Find out how to tempt tal­ent away from large agen­cies, and hold onto new re­cruits

Computer Arts - - Industry Issues -


As a small creative busi­ness, it’s of­ten eas­ier to recruit juniors with po­ten­tial and then de­velop them than to find fully formed tal­ent. The Plant Lon­don is one agency that likes to nurture from be­low, ac­cord­ing to founder Matt Utber. “One stu­dent who came straight to us from uni­ver­sity ended up be­com­ing our de­sign di­rec­tor,” he re­calls. “And we’ve had a few oth­ers over the years who’ve done sim­i­lar things. It’s re­ally lovely to nurture de­sign­ers and see them grow like this.”


Friendship groups and ex­ist­ing con­tacts are an­other great way to find new tal­ent. At SteadyGo, the Leeds agency he co-founded, Tom Wade tried run­ning a rec­om­men­da­tion pol­icy for re­cruit­ment: “If an ex­ist­ing em­ployee in­tro­duced a friend we’d pay them £250, or do­nate it to a char­ity. Quite a lot of peo­ple did the lat­ter, which was nice.” And the ben­e­fits of us­ing friendship net­works aren’t just about get­ting in good peo­ple, he adds. “Re­cruit­ing this way has led to a very friendly at­mos­phere. Ev­ery­one has these con­nec­tions that tran­scend day-to-day agency life.”


The sen­ti­ment of our panel was that re­cruit­ment agen­cies are best left as a last re­sort. Not only are they ex­pen­sive, but they’re not al­ways re­li­able. “Once we hired some­one the agent had vet­ted and who in­ter­viewed okay, but had a CV that turned out to be com­plete fic­tion,” re­mem­bers Alec East, founder of Bed­ford agency Nar­ra­tive In­dus­tries. “Re­cruit­ment fees are pretty big when you’re on the salaries we pay, and yet the work this guy did was so bad that in the end it wasn’t ac­tu­ally bill­able.”


Up­dat­ing LinkedIn is not enough to find the right tal­ent. You have to phys­i­cally ven­ture out into the com­mu­nity, be­lieves Joe Ce­cere of Min­neapo­lis agency Lit­tle & Com­pany. “Our phi­los­o­phy is that we’re al­ways con­nect­ing and get­ting out there, talk­ing to peo­ple,” he ex­plains. “We’re speak­ing at events, we’re go­ing to stu­dent port­fo­lio shows. This keeps our name known. We use our net­work of em­ploy­ees and their past ex­pe­ri­ence to keep in con­tact with peo­ple all around the coun­try. So when op­por­tu­ni­ties come up, we’re able to bring peo­ple in.”

“IT’S RE­ALLY LOVELY TO NURTURE DE­SIGN­ERS AND SEE THEM GROW” MATT UTBER Matt is founder and creative di­rec­tor of The Plant Lon­don. Launched in 2004, the de­sign and brand­ing agency has built an im­pres­sive fo­lio of work. Clients in­clud­ing Jamie Oliver, Trop­i­cana, Lon­don Fash­ion Week, CNN Style and Art HK. www.the­p­lant.co.uk

“WE’RE AL­WAYS CON­NECT­ING AND GET­TING OUT THERE, TALK­ING TO PEO­PLE” JOE CE­CERE Joe is pres­i­dent of Lit­tle & Com­pany, a brand­ing and de­sign firm in Min­neapo­lis founded in 1979. Through the com­pany’s his­tory, it has part­nered with big name clients such as Tar­get, Gap, Mi­crosoft, Sealy, Lowe’s, Frito-Lay, Medtronic and Amer­i­can Craft Coun­cil. www.lit­tleco.com

5 JOIN OR­GAN­I­SA­TIONS Join­ing pro­fes­sional or­gan­i­sa­tions can se­ri­ously widen your re­cruit­ing net, says Utber. “Be­ing part of YCN, a small col­lec­tion of agen­cies and clients, has been very good in help­ing us find tal­ent.” Check out lo­cal as­so­ci­a­tions too, adds East. “Here in Bed­ford­shire, re­cruit­ment is more dif­fi­cult than in Lon­don, so I got in­volved in Bed­ford Creative Arts. Part of their re­mit is to pro­vide creative net­work­ing events, and they’ve proved very use­ful with free­lancers or spe­cial com­mis­sions.” 6 CREATE THE RIGHT STU­DIO CUL­TURE Create the right stu­dio cul­ture, and re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing your staff be­comes far eas­ier. That’s cer­tainly been the case at Chicago de­sign agency 50,000feet, says Jim Misener. “Be­ing a small busi­ness means we’ve been able to de­velop an in­cred­i­bly col­lab­o­ra­tive – al­most col­lec­tivist – cul­ture,” he ex­plains. “We keep the hi­er­ar­chy as flat as pos­si­ble, and this has con­trib­uted to our abil­ity to at­tract and re­tain tal­ent, with many cit­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, cul­ture and an abil­ity to make a dif­fer­ence within their teams, prac­tices, and the agency over­all as rea­sons for join­ing and stay­ing.”

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