Yet another blog was chucked out today about the lack of talent in the industry and frankly, it’s getting boring.
We’re in a rapidly growing and fast changing industry so naturally it has its challenges. Keeping talent development at a pace with the growth in the industry is of course something agencies, clients (and probably society) should be worried about. Universities acknowledge the issues and in Leeds, for example, the universities work hard to develop talent, make them accessible and work with leading agencies and bodies to create a clear path from education to employment. In Leeds, it works well. However, that’s half the problem!
I saw an article by one of the big four digital agencies in Leeds taking about how closely they work with the universities as they are seeing ‘rapid employment growth from education bodies’. What does this mean for clients? It means an agency full of inexperience, low income earners, fatter margins for the agencies and lower standards of work. No agency can argue that experience doesn’t count and I am yet to see one of these agencies reduce rates in accordance with the experience of the team working on the account.
The bigger the agency, the more critical a lack of available talent becomes which results in increased employment of graduates, greater hierarchy and a heavy weighting towards the bottom end of that hierarchical prism.
Don’t misunderstand me. Graduates come with enthusiasm, a passion for learning, a desire to develop and an assiduity gained from degree education. We employ graduates. However, they are blended into the wider team with limited reach but masses of learning room.
Getting back to the point of ‘talent being scarce’ I have to strongly disagree. The industry is teaming with talent. People who claim there isn’t industry talent are lacking the skills to find the talent.
There are critical errors agencies make when looking for talent that restricts them. Firstly, they don’t cast their net wide enough. People tend to look in the small pond that is there local area; Leeds agencies looking at Leeds agencies, web development agencies looking at other web development agencies. The talent you need might be in London, or Manchester or Bristol. If using recruitment agencies why not engage with agencies outside of the region to cast a wider net? People willing to move will be more hungry and more considered in their applications. Further, stop looking at me-too agencies. We work with some brilliant collaborative agencies and meet skilled individuals. I’d love to employ some of the account managers we have worked with because finding talent is the key. Part of being talented is the ability to learn, quickly, and on that basis agencies need to look for better people who have skills in account management, team management, client liaison, time management and more. If they can do all of that, there is a very good chance you can teach them the core skills quickly. This means they are less of a risk socially in terms of client facing skills, and that they will hit the ground running.
Beyond that, what agencies should acknowledge is that better agencies acquire better talent. Strong brands, growth businesses and those with clear career development opportunities will always be an attractive proposition. If you’re struggling to find good people, consider that the good people don’t want to work for you.
For us, we have a recruitment and retention strategy around ‘Gain, Train, Retain’. To ‘gain’ we focus on identifying the best talent and stealing it from other agencies. Of our last seven recruits, one was a grad, one was from a recruitment agency and five we pinched from competitors after researching the market, speaking to associate agencies, asking for recommendations, identifying good work and finding out who did it. It’s tough, its time consuming, but it’s rewarding for us and our clients.
We are a people business with Social Capital as our core currency. We guarantee our five people are better than five people in any other agency.
If you think finding talent is a problem, perhaps you’re not talented enough to find it?