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Recruiter’s corner: how agencies must compete against big tech & their own clients

Attracting talent means offering remote working and being ready to pay

Want to know how hot the job market is? There are “five times the amount of job requests,” says Juel Talent Group’s Elizabeth Zea. And more people have taken a job in the last three months than she’s ever seen in her career. So, what does it take to compete, especially as agencies are battling big tech and even their own clients for talent? In our first of installment of The Drum’s Recruiter’s Corner series, where we interview top industry recruiters, Zea spotlights what talent is demanding right now.

What talent is seeking

Staying home. There has been a lot of debate about what the return to work will look like. Well, according to today’s pool of job seekers, it’s going to include a great deal of remote working. This is the number one ask, according to Juel Talent Group partner Elizabeth Zea. They are inquiring, “can I stay where I am and do the job remotely? We recruit very senior people who in the olden days would have had to move for a job. That’s really dramatically changed.”

Higher salaries. “Salaries are going way up. And if you’re a person of color or a woman and a company needs that, there is a premium on that from a compensation standpoint. There’s a real focus on diverse talent and a lot of folks have just taken new jobs so the pool for diverse talent was small before and is now even smaller today... You need to spend 10% to 20% more on a diverse hire at this moment. There are fewer people out there and there’s a huge need.”

What employers are seeking

Direct-to-consumer experience. “Everybody wants more DTC. Clients used to say we can figure that out in the next three to five years. Then [because of lockdown] it was, ‘we have to figure that out in the next six months.’ That was a really big shift.”

Brand and performance marketers, combined. “Often within client organization, brand and performance is separated. It’s really hard to find marketers who are both. Somebody recently said to me, ‘we are looking for Kirk but he or she has to understand Spock, which is the more performance side.’”

What employers are not seeking

Lifers. “Companies want hybrid experiences. That includes having worked at different companies and being flexible and adaptive. So, if you have someone who spent their whole career at Procter & Gamble or at the same agency, it’s less interesting.”

Where agencies can compete

Creativity. “Clients are building out very robust in-house marketing services. That trend will continue to grow and clients can do a lot of things within those teams very well. But what they can’t do is stay at the forefront of what marketing is, whether it be all of the media channels or being at the vanguard of creativity. Agencies are at the cutting edge of what’s next because they need to be in order to survive.”

Breadth of experience. “As a young person you get to work on a lot of things at once at an agency. Google has a very specific business and you will learn a very specific part of marketing. You’re going to be siloed, which is good because you’ll have deep expertise, but you won’t have a wide range of experience. Also, at places like Google and Facebook, its engineers come first, then sales, then marketing and then the creative work.”

Flexibility. “Agencies are better set up to be more flexible and adaptive. They can offer a more dynamic life because you can do it from lots of locations and travel.”

Where agencies can’t compete

Benefits and perks. “Whether it’s the Google/Facebooks of the world or large client-side organizations, it is really hard to ‘outperk’ them. They care really deeply about people and culture and have put programs in place or have had them for a decade or more. Whether it’s childcare, free lunch, flexible vacation... the agencies, because they have a different economic model, have a hard time living up to that.”

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