Where to Find the Right Digital Agency Talent

By Jason Swenk on August 5, 2014

In this episode I sit down with Amy Hoover, CEO of Talent Zoo. Amy is going to talk to us about how to find talent, developing a recruitment and hiring plan, and what to ask in the interviews.

Amy is adamant that you need to develop a recruiting and hiring plan. Finding someone is a multi-prong process, involving personal contacts, former coworkers, job boards, head hunting, and paid recruitment.

Rarely does just one of these prongs end up working, so you need to come up with a plan to help you hit many of the angles at the same time.

The plan.

  1. Start internally. Develop an “employer brand,” including why it’s great to work for your agency and why your employees think it’s great working there. And don’t forget to put it on your website!
  2. Look at options for getting your employer brand out there. Get the word out through your personal and professional networks, as well as agency-specific resources.
  3. Identify who needs to be involved internally. Do you have a HR person or a hiring manager? Think about involving potential peers in the hiring process.

Whatever you do though, don’t involve clients. Even if the person will be working mainly with the client, don’t involve them. Having clients involved in your hiring process is a disaster waiting to happen.

  1. Be specific in what you’re looking for. Small to mid-sized agencies have a hard time planning what the new hire will actually do. You need to clearly identify what the responsibilities will be so you can find the right person.
  2. Always be recruiting. That means you should be constantly on the lookout for that amazing someone for your team.
  3. Create a tracking method. Whether it’s a spreadsheet or a full-blown applicant tracking system be sure to have a way to save and easily retrieve resumes.

What to look for in a potential hire.

Make sure you vet their resume as much as possible. You want to be sure that they can do what they say they can do, as well as that they have actually done what they’ve claimed. Also, look for someone who is going to be a good cultural fit. You need someone who will jive well with your agency’s culture.

Finally, let your team at them. The team may pick up on things you missed in your conversations with them.

Remember – a bad hire can be costly. Hire slowly, fire quickly.

Hiring from competitors.

Hiring from your competitors does not guarantee a good fit. It may be tempting to try, after all they do the same kind of work you do, with the same type of clients as you. Still, hiring from the competition is super limiting. You’re keeping yourself from getting completely fresh eyes.

Also, making the transition from large agency to a small one can be really difficult. So hiring someone from your bigger, more successful competitor may actually do your team more harm than good.

The interview.

Ask questions that will showcase the person’s actual personality, not just their work personality. Invite them on a skateboarding outing with the team or find out what they do in their spare time. Ask what they loved about their first job. Anything to break free from the normal interview questions will help you see what they’re really like.

I used to dress like a race car driver in my interviews. Seriously, full suit and helmet (with the visor down). Once, I even dressed like a ballerina. I wanted to see if it would rattle them, or if they had a sense of humor.

For those that don’t know, Talent Zoo is an industry-specific job board. They cater mostly to tech, creative, marketing and PR listings, and they’re a great place to find talent. They also put out a whole ton of original content around hiring and hiring trends.

 

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