The creative industry has been accused of haemorrhaging talent. According to the Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey 2018, 81 percent of marketers are looking to leave their current role within the next three years. This is a sit-up-and-take-notice stat that, albeit UK research, we know is equally relevant to Irish agencies.
We are going through a recruitment process at present (I would argue that we never really stop, nor should we), and what is becoming increasingly apparent is that traditional agency roles are feeling more and more outdated.
Our modus operandi is never to shoehorn our consultants into specific department roles. Rather, we build client teams around individual skills and talents informed by the client brief and requirements as opposed to strict departmental silos.
Let me explain further with an example. In my current role, I lead our brand division, yet I am also client lead across a number of our corporate and public affairs accounts. I guess you could say that I fall into the more ‘generalist’ category of communications consultant!
Our agency make-up is varied. My own background is journalism and among our wider team, colleagues come from roles in government relations, policy, law, management consultancy, art history, consumer marketing and advertising, digital user experience, social media community management, and graphic design.
Does it work? If you consider how noisy and competitive the current marketplace is for brands and businesses, then a fresh perspective or different way of thinking brings an enormous degree of value.
For creatives in particular, their skillset is something that is hugely transferable across the communications industry. Integrating these skills into agency life is like kicking into an open goal.
For this reason, our agency increasingly finds itself questioning traditional job descriptions, and adopting a softer-edged approach to recruitment and applications.
That said, where job descriptions become less prescriptive then cultural fit carries a greater weight.
Applying for a role
And now, I directly address the applicant. It’s a seller’s market, so don’t sell yourself short! Sitting across the table, we’re as interested in hearing what you want out of a position as we are in what you believe you can bring to the role. We want you to embrace your (perhaps) rougher edges and think outside of roles and responsibilities.
Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear, because you can bet that we’ve heard it all before.
Instead, tell us what you are passionate about, express your attitude through your interests, and ground your work and experience in this passion.
Talent needs to be nurtured and the onus is on us as agencies to give talent the space to grow and flourish. In order to attract good people and ensure good people stay in the industry, then we need to ensure that skills, talent and creativity holds their value in the agency setting. This means putting people above process.
It also means understanding and accepting that good people can eventually move on to pastures new, so the manner of their exit is vital. In a relatively small industry, you are guaranteed to meet familiar faces on your way back around.
I leave you with this observation. If we want to stop the industry exodus and hold on to our best people, then we need to allow our creatives to create. Put another way, if we are masters of our destiny, then we shouldn’t be slaves to the process—or the job title.
I forecast winds of change, and I’m ready to be blown away.
Nuala Ryan is Client Director at PR360 specialising in brand strategy and communications. Nuala helps clients find their distinctive voice and turn their narrative into a creative concept, strategic approach and engaging execution. Wherever there is strong coffee and good company, you’ll find her.