“You just can’t understand something unless you have experienced it!” Isn’t that true of agency life? An agency is a place that can be exciting, and even a little addictive, to some, but it can be flat-out scary and overwhelming to many. The bottom line is, agency life is just not a fit for most people. As a result, finding people who can be successful in an agency can be difficult. One of the issues in finding those people is that many agencies try to only hire those with agency experience. While agency experience is valuable, the challenge is that there is a fairly limited pool of candidates with agency experience. This means an agency may have to look outside the established agency talent pool in order to find the talent they need. So how do you find great hires that do not yet have agency experience? It starts with asking at least four questions:
Can this person keep up?
All agencies run at a pace that is somewhere between fast and, well, faster. However, different agencies run at different paces depending on the clients they serve. Different roles also run at different paces. For example, the account manager that is also developing new business is likely running faster than your SEO specialist. However, they are all running fast. Finding evidence that a candidate can run at the proper pace is critical.
Can this person juggle?
At its heart, an agency is a juggler: a juggler of changing priorities and deadlines. If you are going to work for a juggler then you likely should be able to juggle. Each role in an agency has some level of juggling as everyone is likely making decisions about priorities to meet deadlines. Your project manager maybe juggling five projects at a time, while your campaign manager is juggling twenty-five. Finding evidence that a candidate can handle the appropriate level of juggling is critical.
Can this person make the decisions necessary to be successful in the role?
Each day, in every role, a person makes decisions that determine whether or not they will be successful. Your strategist may be making decisions about how to most appropriately leverage a budget, while your development manager maybe determining the way to most profitably re-use code. Identifying these decisions and the related critical thinking skills is necessary. Finding evidence that a candidate can make these types of decisions successfully is crucial.
Can this person conduct the communications necessary to be successful in the role?
In every role, a person must communicate to be successful. Your UX lead may be selling people who can’t even spell “UX” on best practices, while your analytics lead is educating your designers on how to use data to improve conversion rates. Understanding what must be communicated successfully and to whom is critical, especially in a high speed, communications-centric setting like an agency.
If you cannot find enough people with agency experience then these four questions will help you expand your candidate pool. What are some questions you ask when considering whether a person is likely to succeed in your agency? Let us know in the comments below.
If you have questions on how to improve your agency’s recruiting please contact us.