Digital Agencies Keep Getting Recruitment Wrong…


The war for talent in the digital agency world is fierce, brutal and often resembles the Premier League in football. Big rich football clubs fighting over signing players, salaries rising hugely each year and more and more players playing for several clubs over their career rather than just 1 or 2. Digital is booming and everybody is searching for talent and spending prodigious amounts acquiring it. So why then do so few invest in retaining it? Why are so few digital agencies trying to keep their best talent? Surely at the heart of a digital agency’s recruitment strategy should be a policy and structured plan of how to retain their best people? Currently the most popular staff retention method used by agencies is a range of clumsy, transparent pay rises given to staff when they hand in their notice in order to tempt them stay.


Lots of agencies do have development plans for staff, and many I do believe think they try to keep their best talent in place. However the facts are alarming; employees are moving from job to job in digital faster than ever and as a result, employment in digital is becoming a clinical short term transactional process.


At Digital Minds we are keen to work with our clients to ensure they focus as much on retention as they do on the acquisition of staff. Speak with us or your other digital recruitment suppliers and find out their thoughts on what you can do to improve retention rates. Recruiters speak daily with candidates looking for jobs in digital, they know why your staff are leaving, their frustrations and why they came to be looking in the first place. Yes it is sometimes about money, but many times it is about stupid things that escalate when they don’t need to. One of the key mistakes is that digital agencies don’t speak with their recruitment suppliers about how to help them retain staff. Or, from an acquisition perspective, get advice on how they interview and run the recruitment process. For example I recently asked a digital agency client if they would like some free advice from me as I have worked as a supplier for them for years and have highlighted several ways they can be more effective. They said “Thanks Simon but our HR people know what they are doing and our Managers are very good so I think we have a grasp on what we are doing.” If they had said yes please always open to hearing thoughts from our suppliers hear are 5 things I would have told them…


  1. 1.  Send an email to each unsuccessful candidate who interviews with you. Understand that the people you reject can have a big impact on the people you want to hire.


Currently it takes me at least 5 days just to get basic feedback from this client which is unfair on candidates and leaves them with less than a positive impression.


  1. 2.  Ensure the people who interview candidates are fully prepared on how to sell and promote your agency. Ensure they are in the right frame of mind to interview and have researched the candidate just as they expect the candidate to research them. Understand candidates have multiple employment choices in digital, so those who do this best secure the best talent.


Currently this agency has managers running interviews who are sometimes clearly not in the mood to interview. They’re unprepared, rushed and sometimes don’t sell the company at all.


  1. 3.  Move faster. Logistically it can be difficult sometimes but prioritise recruitment and ensure you can complete the process faster than you currently are doing as it is losing you candidates. The best people are on and off the market fast – go with it or lose the best talent.


Recently they have missed out on some of the best talent in digital because they could not meet people outside core working hours and lacked flexibility when other agencies made it happen.


  1. 4.  Invite a candidate you are interested in hiring to the pub or some kind of social outing with your team, meet them in an informal environment prior to hiring and allow them to have transparent and open chats with your team about the business. Good and bad!


Currently they don’t do this and it means when a candidate has a choice of them or an agency that they have socialised with and it’s a tight decision, they most often go with the latter. Candidates appreciate that no job is perfect so hearing what it is really like from the team over a beer does not put them off but provides reassurance. The social meeting is also when they build rapport and it really works!


  1. 5.  Have a strategy for keeping in touch with a candidate once they have accepted a job with you but are still working notice with their current company. If you take anything from this blog this is the most important thing.


Currently they don’t keep in touch with candidates and just believe the candidate will start. They don’t realise the other company is trying to tempt the candidate to stay and is working hard to get them to reverse their decision, which they often do. After a candidate has accepted a job but has not yet started and is working notice is the most crucial part of the recruitment process and employers need to understand that.


Some of the points above should also be done by the recruiter and we do do it, but to have clients committed to it too makes all the difference.


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