People are the primary assets in our industry. "The scarcest resources in any organization are performing people," business guru Peter Drucker said.
FCB founder Fairfax Cone famously put it this way: "The inventory goes down the elevator every night."
With an estimated 30 percent turnover, the ad industry does a ton of hiring every year. But when you talk to agency talent chiefs and hiring managers, this much becomes clear: If your recruiting process isn't woke, it's broke. Chances are, at your agency it's the latter.
The recruiting process dates back decades. It's surprisingly inefficient and antiquated for an industry that prides itself on groundbreaking work and creativity. Here's the red pill prescription to get your process woke.
Do the heavy lifting up front
Every hire should be approached like a mini business plan: objectives, strategies and tactics. Designate the key players and who owns the process. Thinking this through before talking to candidates saves the firm a lot of time down the road and avoids frustrating potential talent.
Craft a meaningful job brief
Does your job description accurately describe what it will take to succeed or is it written by committee and chock-full of industry jargon? What are the problems we need to solve? Do your job description and postings sell the sizzle of working at your agency? Or does it sound flat and generic, like this: "The ideal candidate must be highly motivated, energetic, passionate, analytical, creative, be comfortable with ambiguity, have strong organizational and interpersonal skills and not be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty."
Align all decision-makers
Are all interviewers on the same page about the job? Are they singing the same tune about the values of the company when talking to candidates? What is the interview sequence? Clear calendars and make sure everyone's in town: If you get a veto over the hire, you absolutely need to buy into the process and should be on the interviewing schedule.
Establish a timeline and hold people to it
In answer to the question, "When would you like someone in place?" I often hear, "Yesterday." But hiring takes time: weeks to source candidates and interview them by phone or in person, time to prepare and approve an offer, time between offer acceptance and start date.
How many candidates do you need to see or can you pull the trigger when the right person appears?
Don't forget the need to respond and give feedback quickly. There is a war for talent, especially in this "candidate-driven" marketplace with more jobs available than able bodies.
Know that candidate handling directly reflects on your agency
Don't leave them hanging. Good candidates are often lost during radio silence from agencies. Feedback, good or bad, is better than nothing. As a recruiter, this follow-up lets me do my job and helps the agency's professional image.
If you engage an outside recruiter, make it an exclusive
Clients often do their own recruiting, either through internal staff, referrals or both. I don't blame them—I did too when I was on the agency side. But there are times when it's worth paying an external source. And when you do, you'll get the best bang from a single-source recruiter because you focus your time and resources.
After the hire, track performance precisely
Back to Drucker: "Since World War II, the U.S. military—and so far no one else—has learned to test its placement decisions. In business, by contrast, placement with specific expectations as to what the appointee should achieve and systematic appraisal of the outcome are virtually unknown."
Yes, this is extra work and it's rarely done. But it's the best way to construct a scientific gauge and validate your hiring decision. It also provides feedback for future hires, creating a virtual circle of woke-ness.