How to Attract and Hire the Right People to Work at Your Agency
Read time: 14 minutes
In a people-centric industry, agencies must have the ability to attract and retain top talents. The right people can bring innovative ideas, foster a positive culture, make clients happy, and contribute to your business goals. Conversely, hiring the wrong people can be a costly mistake in terms of finances, time, and productivity.
However, most agencies will agree that hiring is difficult. In our 2023 industry report study, 63% recruiters say that their top challenge is the lack of quality applicants. The “Great Resignation” has led to many employees leaving their jobs, and quality candidates have become more expensive.
During challenging economic times, it’s important to adopt a strategic approach and evaluate your agency to make it an attractive workplace for top talent. In this guide, we’ll explore the hiring strategies for agencies that allow you to attract and retain the best creative talent.
Attracting Top Talent to Agencies
To find the right candidates, you must make your agency an attractive company. Let’s explore some strategies to do it:
1. Strengthen Your Employer Brand
Since the job market has become increasingly competitive, you need a strong employer brand and culture to stand out from other agencies and win the best employees. LinkedIn’s report reveals that strong brands attract 50% more qualified candidates. If you want to attract top talent, it’s time to enhance your brand’s appeal through various approaches, such as:
- Building a positive and engaging work environment aligning with your agency’s mission and values
- Displaying employee testimonials and success stories
- Showcasing your agency’s awards and recognition
- Publishing your agency’s social responsibility initiatives
- Promoting your agency’s unique culture via marketing and recruitment efforts
By reinforcing your employer brand, you can attract good-fit candidates for your organization who are interested and passionate about what you do.
2. Build a Compelling Career Page
A captivating career section on your website can tell talented hires about your agency’s stories and the type of person you’re in need of. Make sure this page is informative and engaging, as it can provoke an interest in the candidates to apply. Here’re some tips to create a career page that converts:
- Classify your page clearly into different sessions like Careers, Jobs, Work for Us, etc.
- Include all necessary information that job seekers might need: company mission, values, culture, job openings and requirements, benefits and why they should join your team.
- Use a visual-telling method to increase persuasiveness. Add photos of your office and teams, include a video to show your office virtual tour, or attach interviews with current staff to review your working environment.
3. Promote Intangible and Lifestyle Incentives
The top talents always have many job opportunities to choose from, so consider offering extra perks to make your ad agency distinguished. Apart from traditional compensation packages like salaries, health insurance, paid time off, and paid sick leaves, you should also highlight non-financial benefits. These perks can reflect an easy-going working environment that cares about the employee’s well-being, for example:
- Flexible work schedules like remote or hybrid work options
- Education benefits such as monthly training or learning allowance
- Additional perks: company outings, in-office events, free coffee and snacks, a relaxed dress code, allowing pets
- Work-life balance lifestyle and a family-friendly workplace
While many people think that hybrid working is the best working model, our study found the opposite. Compared to traditional in-office or fully remote working, hybrid working style has the lowest productivity, with billability percentage dropping almost 10%. This may be due to the extra investment to build a company culture and sense of belonging in a hybrid work setting.
In contrast, remote work opportunities remain popular and more candidates are expecting a remote working option. If you’re a small to medium agency, you should evaluate if a full-remote mode will be better off to increase satisfaction and decrease overheads for your agency.
4. Provide Transparent, Comprehensive Job Descriptions
A thorough and well-defined job vacancy is crucial to lure the ideal prospective employees. Your job description (JD) must highlight the duties and responsibilities of the role, the requirements of skills and qualifications, as well as the work schedule and location. A clear and engaging job description can attract the right candidates and set the foundation for a positive application experience.
In your JD, you should also address your agency’s unique selling points, such as company culture, benefits, or opportunities for career growth. Emphasize your agency’s personality and environment in your job postings and throughout the recruitment process. Job seekers want to know what it’s like to work at your ad agency, which can affect their application decisions.
5. Choose the Right Places to Post Your Job Openings
Focusing on the right channels allows you to seek out and connect with the best-suited potential personnel, thus reducing the time and resources spent on recruiting. Since each channel has its strengths and weaknesses, you should use a mix of channels to reach a diverse pool of candidates. Here’re the most common places to consider:
- Job boards: Apart from popular boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, and CareerBuilder, you can try niche boards to get relevant resumes depending on your hiring positions. For example, if you’re looking for a designer, Behance or Dribble can be good options.
- Social media and industry forums: Utilize social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook where field experts hang out to source qualified candidates who are already interested in your agency or the creative industry.
- Industry events: Attending events, conferences, or workshops is the perfect chance to meet promising candidates in person and expand your network. Consider hosting a booth or signing up as a speaker to introduce your digital agency and attract potential hires.
- Job fairs: If you hire interns or junior positions, never forget career fairs in universities or colleges. These events allow you to connect with young prospects and build your talent pool by having them fill in their information.
- Referrals: Create an employee referral program: offer incentives such as gifts or monetary rewards to current employees who successfully refer the right hire for the open position. You can also reach out to your industry contacts and ask them if they know anyone who might be a good fit.
- Freelance Platforms: To find candidates with specialized skills, you can explore online platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, Toptal, and Freelancer.com. Posting jobs on these platforms allows you to fill positions either on a part-time, full-time, or per-project basis.
- In-house recruitment: Consider implementing a career development program to train and promote current employees who have the potential to fill open positions. For instance, you can offer an intern a permanent position or promote a senior staff member to a team leader role.
6. Offer a Seamless and Mobile-responsive Digital Application Process
The application process is typically the initial interaction between an agency and a potential employee that can impact the overall recruitment experience. As most applications are now conducted online, providing an outstanding candidate experience on your website is vital.
You should create a smooth, speedy, and mobile-friendly online submission procedure. To do that, utilize an intuitive system and reduce the number of required steps. An efficient and straightforward process will create a positive impression for the hopefuls and boost your agency’s image.
Ensure that your site enables e-application, including resume and cover letter attachments. In addition, you should go through the entire process as a candidate would to identify any unclear or complicated steps that need to be fine-tuned.
7. Build a Talent Pipeline
Creating a talent pipeline means finding and nurturing potential applicants before you even have a job opening. You can achieve this by joining industry events and online communities, as well as connecting with target individuals on social media. This way, you already have a candidate list to consider when your agency opens a job.
After collecting the list, don’t forget to stay in touch with job prospects. You can periodically send your company updates and relevant creative news to keep your agency top of mind and show that you care about their professional growth.
In addition, consider providing training and development opportunities like workshops, seminars, and mentorship programs to help potential candidates acquire the necessary skills and experience. Or even better, you can organize a creative contest to find the top talent, and at the same time, establishing your agency as a desirable place to work.
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Best Practices for Hiring at Agencies
Attracting top personnel is only one aspect of the equation. To select the right prospects from a pool of qualified applicants, you must implement a streamlined hiring process. The following steps can help you choose the right people for your agency:
1. Screen and Evaluate Candidates
Once you’ve received the applications, the first step is to screen and evaluate the job contenders. Review their resumes, cover letters, and portfolios, and conduct short phone or video interviews if necessary.
In this step, you can use automated tools such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) to speed up the work. ATSs rank the candidates’ profiles based on their skills and experience to determine those who meet your minimum requirements. It eliminates unqualified applicants early in the process and saves you the time and trouble of interviewing people that aren’t right for the job.
2. Conduct In-Person Interviews
After shortlisting the contenders via screening, it’s time to conduct face-to-face interviews to assess their fit, test their skills, and evaluate their experience. You should develop a standardized interview process to ensure consistency and fairness, which often include 3 main aspects:
- Behavioral and situational interviews: Design questions to understand the candidate’s personality, values, work style, and communication skills. Look for the traits important to your advertising agency’s success, such as:
- Flexibility and adaptability
- A collaborative mindset and strong communication skills
- A passion for client service
- Attention to detail
- Creativity and a commitment to innovation
- Good time management skills
- Relevant industry knowledge
- Expertise assessments and work samples: Create an exam or assessment to test the interviewees’ capabilities based on their scores or performance. For example, if you’re hiring a copywriter, design a writing test for them to evaluate their creativity, logical thinking, brand alignment, and writing coherence.
- Growth direction: Ask about their career growth aspirations in the next 3 years to gauge if they match your agency’s goals.
3. Check References and Background
Next, remember to check references and conduct a background check to make sure you’re aiming for the right person with the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications. This means contacting previous employers, verifying education and certifications, and conducting a criminal background check.
4. Make the Hiring Decision and Send an Offer
The next step is crucial: the decision stage. This is where you compare your top nominees and make the final hiring decision. Review your interview notes and consider each person’s strengths, level of expertise, and past accomplishments, to narrow down your selection and make the best decision for your creative agency.
Once you’ve chosen the right person, it’s important to make a competitive offer that deserves their skills and experience. In your offer email, include the salary, benefits, and additional incentives such as flexible work policies or professional growth opportunities. Be prepared to negotiate with the candidate to find a mutually beneficial agreement.
5. Communicate and Follow up
Job seekers appreciate transparency and updates on their application status. Thus, agencies should communicate with the prospects throughout the recruitment process to keep them engaged and informed.
A thank you email can let applicants know when to expect a response, while shortlisted people should receive updates on their recruitment status, the hiring timeline, and the next steps of the process. Promptly address any questions they may have, and provide feedback after interviews or assessments. Furthermore, you should inform unsuccessful applicants after the position has been filled. Send a personalized email expressing your gratitude for their time and interest. It shows your professionalism and encourages them to apply for future roles.
6. Keep In Touch with Strong Candidates
Sometimes, you may interview a candidate who processes strong skill sets and shares the same values with your agency, but due to limited headcounts, you cannot offer them the position. In such a scenario, letting go of such a strong candidate would be regrettable. However, it is a good idea to keep in touch with the person and convey that you appreciate their spirit, skills, and experience. You can add them to your waitlist and contact them when you have another opening or project that might suit them.
For instance, if you’re hiring a content marketing leader and you come across a candidate with excellent writing skills but insufficient leadership experience, you can consider them for future content executive positions. By staying connected with promising candidates, you not only keep future work opportunities open but also develop your network and reputation as an employer who values talented professionals.
7. Onboard and Train
After the candidate has accepted the offer, make sure you onboard and train them effectively for their new role. You should introduce them to your agency’s culture and values, give them the necessary resources and tools, and let them know your expectations and goals for their performance.
Bonus: How to Attain the Top Talent
While attracting and hiring top performers is crucial, it’s equally significant to nurture and retain these employees. Here are the best practices to keep the top talent stay:
1. Offer Competitive Salaries and Benefits
Competitive salaries and benefits are the 2 undoubtedly factors that encourage senior employees to stay. Conduct market research to ensure your salaries and benefits are competitive within the creative industry in your region.
However, in our recent study, 56.9% of agency owners say that growing salary expectations is their biggest challenge. Planning for the upcoming year, 81% of respondents intend to increase compensation by less than 10%, while 8.9% plan no salary increase at all.
While employers often see increasing salaries as a way to address retention challenges, employees value company culture the most (31%), followed by a good work-life balance (23.4%) and engaging work and projects (15.8%). Therefore, to retain employees, agencies can create a supportive and flexible culture that allows for that strong work-life balance and the opportunity to work on interesting accounts.
To promote work-life harmony, you can implement flexible work hours, allow early finishes on certain days, and track workloads with a resource management app. This way, you can boost morale, identify issues in advance and show that you care for your staff.
2. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development
Top talent love companies that commit and invest in their career development. To do this, you should create opportunities for employees to learn new skills and take on new challenges. This means providing access to conferences, training programs, and other educational resources. Another idea is to offer a monthly allowance for the purchase of books or online courses. You can also organize regular sharing sessions where employees can share what they have learned and how they are applying it in their work. These activities demonstrate your commitment to employee growth and create a culture of continuous learning. Furthermore, remember to regularly review and update your staff development programs to ensure they are progressing on the right career track.
3. Foster a Positive and Inclusive Culture
You need a positive and inclusive culture to retain top talent. When employees feel valued and respected, they’re more willing to stay with your ad agency long-term. To foster such a culture, agencies should prioritize diversity and inclusivity in their hiring practices and promote work-life balance, as well as create a healthy work environment that encourages collaboration, open communication, and constructive feedback. This can involve:
- Organizing employee resource groups
- Providing unconscious bias training
- Listening to employee’s feedback and ensuring all voices are heard
- Creating a reporting system for any incidents of discrimination or harassment
The above methods can enhance employee engagement by increasing their sense of value and investment in their work. Make sure you keep constant communication with team members to imprint the culture into your daily operations. This ultimately results in improved job satisfaction, higher performance, increased motivation, and greater loyalty.
Remember to gather baseline data and monitor employee engagement over time. You can learn from these regular tracking methods: one-on-one meetings (59.7%), employee surveys (35.9%), and HR software (7.2%).
We hope the article has provided you with useful guidance on the recruitment tips for agencies. By following the above strategic approaches to attract suitable candidates and build an effective hiring process, you can make informed hiring decisions. Once you’ve found the right team members, nurture their growth and foster a positive work environment to retain their loyalty. By doing so, you can establish a team of skilled and dedicated employees who will contribute to the progress and prosperity of your agency.