27/05/11

By Mark Bower, MD of award-winning digital agency Coolpink

The creative industry has been on a turbulent roller-coaster over the last couple of years riding the wave of budget cuts, but digital in particular is finally starting to have a place in Marketing Manager's strategies and budgets. So, recruitment is back in the spotlight as one of the key focuses in business expansion for many creative agencies, but it brings with it many challenges.

So how do you build a team for the future without putting yourself in an early grave? How do you find the best of the best? How do you ensure your team is focussed and working to their full potential and not wasting your hard earned cash being unproductive?

This is something I've addressed recently, so thought I'd share my take on things... The key is in getting the right people on board from the offset — well obviously... but it's not as easy as it sounds.

So, how do you do this?

With so many recruitment options out there and millions of newly qualified 'creatives' storming the HR inbox, finding the perfect candidate is a time consuming experience — but it actually needn't be. Here are some tips from our experiences.

1).Finding the perfect match - Have they been tested?

The talent is definitely out there in terms of creative skills, but where many candidates often fall short is on their business focus... practical experience in a working environment goes a lot further than talent alone. So, why not trial them out first? Find out how dedicated they are to work and how much motivation they have by 'testing' them out — offering them a placement day to see how their ethics and personality match your brand values.

Work experience is often the best option for both parties, and in many cases can help sieve through the incompatible parties (both employer and employee) and find the perfect match.

Take time to really get to know the candidates. Thinking back, it amazes me how quickly we used to recruit — but these people are the core to your business. Slow things down and really get under their skin.

Don' be too hasty however much you need them - this will lead to a disaster in the long run.

2).Be the people's person — Aim for happy campers

Essentially, most business owners should own a good management 'style', but this sometimes falls short in terms of people management. Being a people's person is a critical element of managing your team effectively and making sure everyone's happy. I've learnt the hard way.

This starts during the recruitment process. Often, we can be to eager to fill a position, and we don't listen to the candidates tell tale signs which could indicate conflicts in working styles, between the employee and company culture.
Moving forward this point relates to the structure of the overall business. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them, but also take time out (no matter how busy!) to ensure that they are happy in their role.

This not only makes life a lot easier in the long run, but happy workers equals lower staff turnover — you could also look at a scheme to reward your team to show they really are valued.

3).Old school Vs new school

Over the last few years, there has definitely been a lot of movement in the creative industry as a whole. It's moving away from being run by old-school ad men and is now being influenced much more by the generation which has grown up in the digital world. I also think the industry itself has matured in many ways, and started to take itself a bit more seriously - staff need to buy into this and conduct themselves in the right manner, to effectively represent your business.

There is a hell of a lot of talent out there, so it's important to sift it. Realign your recruitment method to position it against the company culture making sure you recruit staff based on their values and how they would fit within your team.

Recognise the differences between the old world and new world, and play to the strengths of both. A combined team can be very effective if they compliment each others skills.

4). The Social Network — The world is watching

Social media has been used in recruitment for years, however it is more visible than ever. The realisation that potential employees potentially choose their employer as much as vice versa, means that agencies need be conscious of identifying and appealing to the right candidates and make sure potential staff are seeing their messages and understanding their brand just as much as potential clients are. It's also a great tool from an employers perspective to be able to research candidates in advance of meeting them.

5). Go for gold — strategy for success

Only accept the best. A can do attitude and staff with a history of overachieving — that's our winning formula — we now accept nothing less, but reward those who do fit the bill.

The end result is happier people, more productivity and a much stronger sense of 'team'.

We are proud and confident in saying that our team is comprised of the best digital thinkers in the industry. We're excited about 2011 and the new team members we are to bring on board. To see our current roles visit www.coolpink.net