3 Ways to Steer the Right Creative Talent Toward Your Business
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The landscape of opportunity for creatives is growing. Advertising agencies are no longer the only employment option for those looking for full-time work, and career prospects have never been brighter. In the digital, direct-to-consumer era when brands differentiate themselves by crafting unique products and identities, more and more companies are realizing that they need a creative edge. The best way to hone this edge? Assembling in-house teams composed of copywriters, product designers, web developers, graphic designers, content producers and more.
In fact, a 2017 survey conducted by RSW/US revealed that traditional agencies are seeing fewer client referrals than ever before, which Adweek attributes to an increase in brands forming their own in-house teams. For highly qualified creatives, this transition in agency structure provides an abundance of opportunities.
Our company has a unique perspective on the market when it comes to hiring talented creative professionals. When we launched in 2012 as an online platform linking freelancers and full-time creative talent to companies looking for their services, about 80 percent of our clients were advertising agencies. Today, that number is closer to 40 percent, with startups and more established brands moving into the majority position.
With the change in industry trends in mind, it's important to remember that creatives are similar to many other professionals working at a company, which means they’ll be attracted to certain perks and the promise of a clear career trajectory. However, we’ve dug deeper to produce useful insights into the process of hiring creative talent that companies across various industries should understand and utilize.
3 laws of attraction
Each year, we send out a survey to our members to gauge their wants and needs. For example, we ask what they'd do in order to work full-time and what specific attributes they weigh most heavily when vetting potential employers. Our 2017 "Top Companies Working Not Working Creatives Would Kill to Work for Full-Time" survey yielded three major takeaways that can help any company win over the creative talent they’ve been searching for:
1. Look deeper than social media.
In 2016, according to CareerBuilder, 60 percent of companies utilized social media to vet candidates before hiring them. By 2017, that number rose to 70 percent. The problem is that social media only tells a small part of any story.
The New York Times recently documented the ease at which social media followings could be fabricated and that even a legitimately sizable following has very little bearing on the actual skills of a creative candidate. Some of the best creatives are probably the ones who focus more of their time and energy on curating substance and less on sharing it. To find these individuals, search for original ideas and examples of thinking outside the box. Prospective hires should look like they spend more time in the studio than they do looking at their phones.
2. Foster a creative culture.
Regardless of your product or even the industry you’re in, creativity is critical to company success. No one will know or care about your company if important items such as your visual identity, communications and branding don’t resonate. A creative culture recognizes and acknowledges this value, and creatives will value it in return.
A vital step toward building this attractive creative culture involves offering senior-level creative positions. For example, the rise of the chief creative officer position supports this point, and who better to manage your creative professionals than someone who can walk the walk? Of course, this individual’s peers in the C-suite must see him or her as an important business partner for the position to function successfully.
If you need some inspiration, take a quick dive into the creative career structure of one of our clients – Squarespace. The company has a CCO and a creative director, and its messaging and product give off a high-end feel. In addition, Squarespace is always looking to grow its team.
3. Showcase the “creative opportunity.”
A creative's main objective is to do great work to stay marketable throughout his or her career -- in other words, doing what everyone with a professional career should be doing. A 2017 Gallup poll points out that 60 percent of Millennials and 51 percent of U.S. workers overall are looking for new employment opportunities. The gem in this job search is a “creative opportunity” that will allow them to produce meaningful work, broaden skills and open up new doors down the road.
If you can offer these opportunities, showcase them. But if you can’t provide these benefits, don’t try to fake it. Instead, communicate that you intend to revolutionize the company’s creative culture and output, and this is the first step. Then, follow through, or your newly hired talent will be out the door within three months.
To get potential creative employees to consider your company, you need to go beyond matching 401(k)s and ping-pong tables. Showcase what your company has to offer when it comes to a creative career, and build a culture that values original employee contributions. Otherwise, your in-house creative team will be a short-lived experiment.