So, you've briefed a recruiter but you're not getting as many candidates as you'd like?
At Stopgap we work on marketing roles both client-side and agency-side; it's a challenging job market at the moment, being very candidate-led, but especially in the agency world. By this we mean that there are more candidates around than there are jobs (or at least appealing jobs) so the ball is in the candidate's court more than ever, metaphorically speaking. We've been hearing from the agencies we work with that they've never experienced so much counter-offering as they are in the current climate.
With this in mind it's imperative that agencies do everything they can to attract great candidates in the first place. Unfortunately many are falling at this first hurdle; perhaps under-estimating the importance of a few basic factors that prospective candidates consider important when applying for roles. So I've put together some insights that I've gathered over the years from our agency candidates that can shed some light and help us help you get more candidate CVs in your inbox.
1.They haven't got a meaningful job description to look at:
Whilst this may seem obvious you'd be surprised how often a recruiter isn't given a job description for a role that they've been asked to recruit for- particularly in the agency sector! A job description really is essential- even for a freelance or contract position. It's how a candidate gets an initial sense of the role; even if we as a recruiter have been briefed on the role and can tell a potential applicant vocally what you are looking for, they still want a written job spec. to refer to. This doesn't apply to job descriptions that are only a few sentences and vague! Job descriptions need to be thorough, detailed and really give an understanding of the day to day responsibilities that the candidate will be doing in their specific role. It gives candidates a sense of confidence that you care; you've bothered to put time and effort into putting a description together and so they feel it's an organised and professional place to work, and therefore much more likely to want to be put forward for the role.
2. They're put off by the long interview process:
When we talk to candidates about a role, we like to be able to give them as much information as we can about the interview process. It's fantastic when clients can give us a detailed over-view of how they plan to interview applicants. It demonstrates consideration and thoroughness, qualities all our candidates want from a new workplace. However, sometimes, thoroughness can tip into dangerous territory of being protracted and long-winded, putting candidates off. You can literally hear them run a mile! Your interview process needs to reflect the level, seniority and type of contract you are recruiting for. So, having a 3 stage interview process including a presentation for a junior, freelance position is unnecessary, excessive and can even come across as gratuitous. Generally speaking for a freelance position at a junior level, one face-to-face interview should suffice, potentially a phone interview and face to face for someone more senior. A 2-stage interview is common-place for permanent Account Manager-Account Director roles whilst anything more should really be reserved for more senior hiring. An unnecessarily long interview process not only risks putting off candidates from applying in the first place but also threatens a candidate's commitment during the process if it's too long-winded- particularly if compared to other roles they are interviewing for concurrently.
3. They don't have a clear picture of the agency:
More candidates than ever are turning to recruiters like Stopgap to help them with their job search; they're fed up of applying for faceless roles via Job boards or Linkedin. They want to speak to a real human who can tell them about the job they are applying for; if it's not the agency directly, then we are the next best thing. Therefore, if we can't tell them anything about the role or agency workplace and culture, they're going to be put off applying. It's that simple. The more we can chat to an applicant about your role and your culture- the ins and outs of the job, what the office is like, what the team is like - the better the picture we can paint for them and the more comfortable they feel being put forward for the role. So, this is why we ask to come and see you!
4. You're not matching their salary expectations:
Whilst you may feel that the salary your agency is offering is competitive, this could be a major factor why you're not getting as many applications as you'd hoped for, nor getting as many candidates from your recruiter as you feel you should be. Whilst salaries have been fairly stagnant in the agency sector for the last few years, life is more expensive, especially in London, and agency candidates are being tempted more than ever by client-side roles who they feel pay better and offer more work-life-balance. Therefore, agencies need to critically look at the salary brackets they are offering; if there is any ability to stretch them, it will surely mean you attract more candidates. Candidates aren't being greedy; they're reacting to their own financial pressures and above all, great candidates know their worth in the market-place. It's common sense that if a candidate feels valued and well remunerated for their work, they will have a bigger sense of loyalty and be less likely to job hunt. It's also true to say that working with candidates who are looking to move, one of their main motivators is their salary as moving agencies is usually how they can jump up the salary ladder- so they're unlikely to move for the same money or even just a small increase. It needs to be worth their while.
5. Your soft perks/benefits aren't appealing enough:
Some agencies are making great strides in this area and it's brilliant to see. However, there are still a lot of agencies that don't offer as much as others do, nor, importantly as much as a client-side roles do; another reason you may not be getting as many applicants as you'd like. More than ever, soft perks such as holiday allowance, pension schemes, flexi-working and fun initiatives amongst many others, are a big deciding factor for agency candidates when they are applying for a role. Soft perks are now arguably even more important in the work place, considering salaries have stagnated and candidates are looking for an agency that will offer them different perks alongside their basic salary. Any agency that offers just 20 days holiday (in addition to the 8 bank holidays) are frankly behind the times and whilst the candidate may be interested in the role itself, they'll undoubtedly be put off applying. There's been a lot of anecdotal evidence and research that millennials value soft benefits such as a high holiday allowance rather than a higher salary (although in an ideal world they'd like both).This should be good news for agencies who historically haven't been able to offer big salaries compared to client-side roles, but instead can offer other perks that play to their strengths- a fun culture, frequent socials, 'duvet days' etc. One agency I work with have moved to an uncapped holiday allowance model; still uncommon in the workplace but something that is seriously attractive to agency candidates who tend to work longer hours than their client-side counterparts. Whatever benefits your agency offers, we need to know about it!
There will always be a candidate for your agency but the difficult part of recruitment is finding the right candidate and the one that will give you longevity and commitment. You set the tone from the minute you brief your recruiter, so if this part is well-thought out and considered, it makes the whole process easier and you should definitely get higher-quality candidates from your recruiter.
If you are looking to strengthen your agency talent, from Account Handlers to Creatives, we can help. Brief us on a role today.