Ask any agency founder: what is your biggest challenge? It certainly has to do with recruiting good talent and retaining them. Hiring good talent in the digital agency world becomes really tough especially in a rapidly evolving industry. Besides you can’t have the age-old boring recruiting techniques at a time when the choices for an employee are way too many!
Aside from the money, focus is also on the agency work, culture and other factors. The scenario becomes a little tricky when a sizeable portion of your staff are millennials or young minds. Then you really need to raise the bar.
For instance, a Minneapolis-based agency used geofilters for a new purpose: to enlist interns for its summer program at college campuses across the country. Space150 started creating filters for college campuses, its own offices as well as public locations. The agency’s filters prompted the students to follow it on its Snapchat handle, where they’ll be given a creative brief on the basis of which they can apply to the internship program.
Earlier this year, Dentsu-owned Fetch’s New York office set up a Tinder profile to find potential interns within the app’s roughly 50 million users who skew between the ages of 18 to 34. In total, Fetch matched with 270 potential applicants—150 men and 120 women—in January, and the agency spent three weeks talking to them before whittling the competition down to five in-person interviews.
In early 2014, digital agency, Experience Commerce had launched ‘Mission _i_ing’, a two-month social recruitment drive where managers and teams used videos to pitch directly to potential candidates. Themed around ‘When HR goes missing’, the recruitment campaign was launched to fill up 30 positions in the agency. 7 managers along with their teams had created videos to pitch directly to the potential candidates.
Sapient India, a part of Publicis.Sapient, is in the move to attract talent now. It has rolled out its latest campaign called Troublemakers. Hinged upon the insight that disruption breeds innovation, the agency is on the lookout for what it calls ‘a rare breed of extraordinary minds that are not afraid to break boundaries in digital innovation and transformation’.
We decided to ask Indian digital agency folks what they are doing out-of-the-box to hire young minds. The idea was to understand whether our agency folks are using their creative juices for hiring too, other than serving their clients.
So here are the edited excerpts of the email conversations we had with 10 digital agency founders:
Sandip Maiti, Founder & CEO, Experience Commerce
Sandip informed that right now most of the hiring is happening on recommendations. Though last year when the agency had organized a techie’s day out, it had invited a lot of tech people to join and be a part of the event. The idea was to see if the agency could grab some talented tech minds.
Besides all this he personally spends a lot of time making the new joiners adjust with the culture and imparts in-depth knowledge about the agency culture. In the coming months, the agency will turn a decade young; it plans on having a grand employment drive with cool campaigns.
Chaaya Baradhwaaj, Founder & MD, BC Web Wise
Millennials want opportunities to do great work for great brands. The best talent among them isn’t likely to be found on job sites. We regularly get queries from candidates through our Facebook page, which is where we share most of our internal news and updates. The perceived work atmosphere of the agency plays a big role in attracting good talent.
To attract millennials, the agency has to inspire them. For instance, we do hiring ads on Facebook and LinkedIn.
We never simply state our requirements or claim to offer a once in a lifetime career opportunity like everybody else. Instead the ads represent our personality and vision. They are not job postings, but creative invites with a human side. We’re not offering a job, instead inviting the best talent to collaborate with us. The ad tells candidates that we’re not looking for just another resource, but someone who wouldn’t ever be satisfied being just another resource.
Rohan Mehta, CEO, Social Kinnect
Hiring has been a core focus for Social Kinnect, considering the dynamic industry we work in. As talent is our only asset, picking talent who collaborate with our vision and fit into our culture is integral for us.
One of our key pulls to excite young minds to join Social Kinnect has to be our L&D team’s initiative KinnectEDGE (Enhanced Development & Growth Ecosystem). From personal development to hands on experimentation, to grooming leadership programs, an in-house repository of learning we give them the EDGE, over others. Apart from that, they also get regular mentoring from me, Chandni, Srinivas (L&D Head) and other senior team members who collectively have a vast experience in this industry.
Khushboo Maheshwari, CEO, Prodigitz Media
India’s 700 million millennials are the youngest working age group on the planet, and the highest educated generation our country has ever seen. As the “Chief of Everything Officer” of my 2-year-old agency, I know I need them. We’ve entered an era where talent doesn’t recognize old boundaries and rules. And while a solid reference is still the best recruitment avenue, I have also looked for future ‘Prodigies’ on Facebook, Twitter, and Tinder (yes, Tinder – and I happily found one as well!).
I know that Prodigitz has a bright future because my millennials are building it side-by-side with me.
Shweta Thakur, Director, Graffiti Collaborative
Millennials are young, dynamic, smart and impatient individuals always looking for something new and challenging. This is the exact profile that we hire! However, our hiring process is very stringent and only very few of the candidates make it.
Graffiti understands the digital behaviour of millennials and hence have been advertising on Facebook and Instagram, don’t find the usual job portals effective. We have floated some quirky and witty recruitment ads targeted to the relevant people. We do not shy away from taking a dig at ourselves, since millennials appreciate this sense of humor.
Our website talks about love and that makes the candidates feel welcome before they join us. However, what really stands out for them is our ‘work with us’ page. The questions we ask have nothing to do with their skill set. We assess their attitude and thought process. The form is nothing like anyone has seen before! And they instantly know that they have reached the right place.
Nishad Ramachandran, SVP Digital Head, Hansa Cequity
We have done a few things to recruit young people – the technology team has conducted hackathons in the last many years to recruit tech talent.
Hansa Cequity has been aggressive in B Schools, tier two IIMs specifically, in the last two years to find good people. Personally I have recruited from the schools I have conducted guest lectures. A sort of catch them young approach, where on the day of the guest lecture itself, I am pretty sure who are the better kids in the class. And we have been lucky with them in the last 3 years or so.
One really innovative idea we had used many years ago for recruiting was by running promotions in pubs where young people hung out.
We handed out these free bowls of peanuts to unsuspecting young minds, who when the peanuts were eaten read a promotional message: “Don’t fall for peanuts” Created some mildly embarrassing laughs and a few people applied to the mail id that was part of the message.
Vineet Gupta, MD, 22Feet Tribal Worldwide
22feet is an extremely young organization with the average age across 180 people being a little over 25. Less than 10% of the staff comes from an advertising background.
While handling such young and ambitious talent, the one thing that we consider seriously is to leverage their passion points. We hire them for what they want to do/are passionate about and give them work that does justice to that. For example, we have hired climbers and trekkers to work on an outdoor brand and ensured that a major part of what they do is to go out there and help us create content, instead of sitting in office and filling time sheets.
We actually go out of our way to make this possible. We even have initiatives like www.untold.in that allow our people to express themselves freely through their work, instead of hiding behind lame excuses such as clients not allowing them to do work they want to. Anyone at 22feet (and now even people outside of 22feet), can contribute to Untold. We’ve been amazed by the response so far.
The other important factor is to build a culture of trust and empowerment. However clichéd this may sound we truly live by it. We do everything possible to kill bureaucracy and create an environment where each of our employee is empowered to take decisions and make mistakes.
Lastly, we do not advertise to hire people. We’ve been blessed to have a team full of 22feet ambassadors. Majority of our hiring happens through referrals.
Ashish Patkar, Founder & CEO, Monk Media Network
Millennials, as a demographic, are people who don’t like things in the constant. They look for enriching experiences rather than just enriching themselves through money. At Monk Media we recruit people who don’t want to just work with us but have ideas in which we can partner them for mutual growth. Our team till date has come up with ideas for 2 digital platforms and a mobile app, which are all under development. The future of agencies like mine who recruit millennials isn’t through the campaigns that we release but rather in the products that we develop.
And that is a key motivation for millennials as they seek to use their talents to effect a larger change in society than what a Facebook post or a campaign for a brand can affect. The millennials are rewriting the rules of mass communication by developing ideas that are making it to one mobile handset at a time.
Harshil Karia, MD, Schbang
From our understanding, millennials are ‘Generation Me’. Our company philosophy on recruitment is – “keep those who are inside the agency happy, you will automatically attract the right people”. Bearing the same in mind we do a few things for the millennials which in turn leads to the right millennials applying to us:
Let them leave their mark: We’re a young agency – just about a year old. We recently created an ‘Art Day’ at Schbang wherein we wanted every member who has helped guide the agency through its first few months to leave a piece of themselves on our walls.
Everyone had a great time and everyone wove themselves into the fabric of the culture we’re trying to create.
Credit correctly and give credit where credit is due: This is a slightly more obvious one and perhaps not as big a deal but very often in larger agencies there are many stories from members of the junior staff on ideation not credited enough when the final product releases. We ensure that with clients and in any releases alike, we’re crediting the right people – no matter how senior or junior.
Rohit Raj, Co-Founder, The Glitch
Millennials are 10x smarter and brighter than we were, so to hire such focused people with attention spans lesser than gold fish, it’s important to create a culture that attracts them and show them a future they can’t say no to.
We at glitch put a lot of emphasis on the culture. A culture where people are allowed to make mistakes as long as they learn and grow from it. A culture where hierarchies don’t stand tall to smart ideas. The beer and the pizza are just byproducts of this. And this culture has always helped us attract talent. Every member who has been a part of the team would have experienced this culture and ends up talking about it to their peers and thus we managed to create a brand for ourselves. Every time a new opening comes up, a recruitment recommendation program called BLIMP is activated where anybody at glitch can recommend a person they know off for the role. If the person nominated joins the company, the team member who nominated the person gets a cash reward. This has helped us scout the best talent amongst the pool of rockstars.
We also have a very welcome intern policy where we pick a set of interns for each department from some of the top colleges. These people experience the work, the atmosphere and the madness for 2 months and then decide to join us when they finish with college. More importantly they go back to college with stories about the place and during recruitment season, we end up getting multiple applicants from these colleges.
That said, in today’s day and age, the millennials need to be shown a place they would enjoy coming to work to and work that drives them passionately to pursue and more often than not they will be attracted to working with you.
Culture is a key take away in my honest opinion or as the millennials would say it IMHO.
Has your agency hacked interesting hiring techniques to net young minds? Do share with us in the comments.