Partly Cloudy: The 2018 Creative Staffing Climate

Where are all the creatives?

In the Cella In-House Creative Industry Report that was just released, 37% of in-house leaders stated that they were planning to increase full-time headcount this year. In addition, 89% of in-house agencies plan to utilize flexible or freelance staff in addition to their full-time team. If you are among these leaders, be prepared for recruiting and even retention challenges. The current unemployment rate is only 4.1% (a mere 2.3% for anyone with a College Degree). To complicate matters more, the in-house creative industry has very low turnover – less than 5%. So, if there is no one unemployed and no one willing to leave their current positions, how will your organization meet its goals of increasing staff or utilizing freelancers?

As staffing providers of Creative, Digital, and Marketing talent for the past 30 years, The BOSS Group, Cella’s sister company, faces this challenge on a daily basis. We are in the trenches identifying available talent for our clients so that they can accomplish their 2018 hiring goals. Certainly, in this economic climate, it hasn’t been easy and we are coaching hiring managers to be creative and strategic with their hiring practices.

Here is how we have found success…

Heavily target passive job seekers:

Since nearly 98% of the candidates you are in need of hiring are already working in some capacity, it is critical that you are targeting passive job seekers. Attend local creative industry networking events to make connections and build relationships with individuals in your field. We also recommend using online tools such as LinkedIn and that when leveraging those tools, you take an additional step and schedule a call or a meeting with identified candidates to further build those relationships. Even if those individuals are not open to new opportunities now, it will help you build your bench of candidates for future positions.

Build your referral network:

When looking for referrals, we don’t ask: “Do you know someone who ___?” We ask: “WHO do you know who ___?” Almost everyone knows someone who is qualified for your open position. It is not important if the individual knows if the referral is looking for a new job. What is important is that you make the connection with that talent who could be a potential hire, learn about his or her career goals, and determine if there could be a match either now or in the future. Build your network and consistently ask your new connections who they know in the industry. It doesn’t hurt to offer a bonus for any referrals that are placed, but we have found that people are more motivated by the satisfaction of helping their friends and colleagues than an associated monetary reward.

Build and promote a strong group culture:

Having a strong group culture is a powerful magnet for attracting talent and it is more than offering nice perks like a casual dress code and free lunch. Company culture is the vibe people feel when they walk into your in-house agency. It’s the mood and tone your team creates through their practices, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s important that your candidates experience and understand that culture through your initial outreach and subsequent interviews and agency tours as well as from your personal passion for and embodiment of your group’s culture. In addition to helping you recruit top-tier talent, knowing your culture also helps your candidates determine if they would be a good fit for your group.

Offer flex or work from home opportunities:

Today’s employees often want the freedom to set their own work schedule and the flexibility to work from home, and companies need to adapt to these expectations if they want to recruit A-team players. Offering flexible schedules or remote work opportunities are now critical to not only attract candidates but also retain them and even existing employees. We’ve even seen candidates opt for a lower salary in exchange for more flexible working arrangements.

Offer competitive rates and salaries:

The salaries that worked to attract talent in 2010 are very different from what the market demands today. Salaries across all industries have increased by 3.2% year over year and top talent are demanding and getting highly competitive salaries. Do a market analysis of rates to ensure what you are offering will garner the type of talent you are seeking.

Use the interview to sell your opportunity:

Your hiring managers are obviously using interviews as a tool to determine a candidate’s fit for an open position and your organization, but are they also using these same interviews to sell your group and culture? With so many job openings and so few available talent, it is important that you and your hiring managers use the interview process as a way to sell your company as a great place to work. And this should not be a practice the hiring manager handles alone – identify strong passionate team members in the same role the candidate is interviewing for who can meet with the candidate to discuss their “day in the life”, focusing on the benefits of being part of the team.

Hire for attitude and aptitude not necessarily skill:

With today’s talent gap, it is likely you won’t identify a candidate that checks off every box on your job description. Hire talent who have the attitude and aptitude to do well in your organization, and train them to fill in the skills and/or specific experience gaps. Not only will you be meeting the needs of your open position, but you will also create loyalty by providing a robust learning and development program for the individuals you hire.

In summary

Candidates are being more selective than ever, often with several offers to choose from, so it’s critical that you ensure that your candidates feel valued and leave the interview process understanding your group’s benefits and culture. And move quickly! A slow recruitment and hiring process will kill almost every potential hire.  Proactively build your bench, maintain those relationships, and ask for referrals. All of these practices will help you achieve your goals of growing your team in 2018.

Maria Sommer has 15 years of Creative, Marketing, and Digital staffing experience.  She currently holds the role of Director of Key Accounts at The BOSS Group and is responsible for developing and overseeing strategic staffing operations for multiple Managed In-House Agency clients.

Maria holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Penn State University, as well as a Certificate in Digital Media from Moore College of Art and Design.

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