Unlock the secrets of recruiting and retaining top talent at your agency

Unlock the secrets of recruiting and retaining top talent at your agency

They say that employees are a company’s greatest asset, and that’s as true of marketing agencies as it is of any business. The right team can help demonstrate your agency’s quality, credibility, and expertise to potential clients. So it only makes sense that you want to find qualified candidates and, more importantly, make sure they’re with us for the long term.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Chances are you’ve experienced this first hand. Perhaps you’ve lost one of your most talented employees or are frustrated by the lack of interest from candidates. Whatever the case, it’s worth taking a look at why that is and how you can change your approach to be more successful.

Why it is difficult to find and retain qualified candidates

There are many reasons why marketing agencies struggle to find and retain qualified candidates. The two biggest factors are as follows:

  1. competition in the labor market
  2. employee expectations

First, consider the competition in the job market. There are more than 14,000 marketing and advertising agencies in the US alone. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for marketing jobs is expected to grow 10% through 2026. However, there are only a limited number of candidates who are willing and able to reach the desired level.

We’re all looking for a certain type of pro, right? The ideal team member has at least marketing knowledge, skills in one or more areas, and the right attitude to succeed. A person with these traits who cares about helping clients grow is hot commodity. Every agency that hires wants them!

In short, the competition is tough. Your competitors are trying to attract the same quality candidates as you. So you have to work extra hard to stand out and encourage them to apply for a job at your agency. And if you manage to get her on board, you’ll have to prove her decision was the right one. Finally, there is no shortage of options available to them.

But that’s not the hurdle you have to overcome…

Add to that the fact that the wants and needs of today’s marketers (and workers in general) have changed.

For example, employee expectations encompass more than just a salary that reflects their worth. People are looking for things like…

  • Positive work culture
  • recognition
  • flexibility
  • transparency
  • Respect
  • Purpose

Unfortunately, these are things that many agencies fail to emphasize when recruiting — or worse, fail to deliver in the workplace. And in the second scenario, this leads to great talent migrating for other opportunities. In fact, by 2022, 62% of professionals are considering a job change.

To say that finding and retaining strong, qualified candidates is a challenge would be an understatement. But here’s the good news – it’s not impossible. It’s all about changing your approach, making good use of your marketing skills and adding value to your team.

Let’s start recruiting…

5 tips to find qualified candidates for your agency

As marketers, we are always looking for ways to improve and become better for our customers. And that should also apply to the recruitment process. If you’re having a hard time finding and inviting top talent to work for your agency, you need to make some improvements.

With that in mind, here are five tips you can use to find qualified candidates:

  1. Create true job descriptions.

A job description is just that—a description of a job. But most marketing agencies (and companies in general) get it wrong. If you’re trying to build a solid digital marketing team, chances are you have a long list of requirements for the ideal candidate.

But that doesn’t explain the job, does it?

Jason Weseman, a Certified Business Coach at FocalPoint Consulting, put it best during a workshop hosted by Viral Solutions: “A job description should define the work that needs to be done, not the skills required to get the job done.”

Explaining why this is so important, Weseman went on to say, “You can find people who fit your description exactly — your needs, your skills, your experience — who couldn’t do the job.”

Plus, if you’re strict with your criteria, you could be missing out on great talent. Research has shown, for example, that women only apply for jobs if they are 100% qualified.

So focus on outlining what the job entails, not what qualities you are looking for in a candidate.

  1. Market the job, not your agency.

As marketers, we are no strangers to branding. And we all know how important employer branding is. But a common mistake agencies make when trying to find suitable candidates is not branding a job.

According to Weseman, “Top talent already knows their competition. They know other companies in their field… What they have to sell is the job itself.”

So, in every job description you write, focus on answering the following questions:

  • What can they do?
  • what can they become
  • What does success look like?
  • What does the future hold?

Highlight the job by explaining how it benefits them them and make life better. Use storytelling to take them on a journey!

  1. Spread the word widely.

When you’ve written your job description and are ready to start searching for candidates, spread the word widely. Go beyond popular platforms like LinkedIn, Monster, Glassdoor and Indeed. Consider posting the position on marketing-specific sites such as MarketingHire, the American Marketing Association, and Digital Agency Network.

And don’t forget the other resources at your disposal! You can feature the job on your social media channels and encourage current employees to recommend qualified candidates they may know.

  1. Don’t ignore the passive market.

To find qualified candidates for your team, Weseman also recommends looking at the passive market.

What does that mean?

It means considering those who are not actively looking for a new job.

This gives you a larger pool of potential candidates. More importantly, it gives you a bigger pool super talent, as they likely have the knowledge, skills and attitude you are looking for. After all, she hired another agency!

The key to convincing someone to change jobs (besides seeing your job posting) is to show that a position at your agency may be an option more. A career change must offer a 30% non-monetary increase. These include job growth, job stretching and job satisfaction.

By proving that a talented marketer can have greater opportunity, greater impact, and greater satisfaction with your agency, you can reach exceptional candidates.

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  1. Rethink your interviews.

The final tip for finding good candidates is to reconsider your interviews. (This is another piece of wisdom from Weseman.) You have a better chance of filling a vacancy with the perfect person if you…

  • Ask the right questions.

“What is your greatest achievement?” is the most critical and effective interview question you can ask. It sheds light on what a candidate sees as an accomplishment and helps you see if they’re a good match for you. If her answer is irrelevant to the position or doesn’t align with your agency’s goals, she probably isn’t the right choice.

  • Wait until you make a final decision.

People come to an interview as the best version of themselves, so first impressions aren’t always reliable. That’s why Weseman recommends waiting 30 minutes. If you love them after three minutes, ask them harder questions for the remaining 27. If you’re not sure after three minutes, ask them easier questions for the rest of the interview.

How to retain good marketing talent after hiring

Finding qualified candidates is one thing, retaining them is another. And it’s probably more important! When a team member leaves, you miss everything they bring to the table. Also, it can cost you a lot of time. Replacing an employee costs an average of 6-9 months’ salary.

So what can you do to retain good marketing talent once you’ve brought them on board?

  • Offer continuing education opportunities.

Great team members strive to learn and grow in their careers. Therefore, you should offer training opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills. Ask what they would like to do better or dig deeper. Then select suitable training courses for them.

  • Create a healthy corporate culture.

Fostering a healthy organizational culture can go a long way in retaining team members over the long term. It can increase satisfaction and keep employees engaged. So make sure your culture passes the test by prioritizing wellness, promoting diversity and inclusion, being transparent, and making sure everyone aligns with the agency’s values.

  • Get involved in career advancement.

If you’ve promised a candidate that your agency can promote them, make a commitment. Give them a chance to climb the ladder once they’ve shown they’re capable. Vertical career growth option increases the chances that they will stay. It also proves that you are true to your word.

  • Reevaluate to stay competitive.

Make an effort to show that your agency is among the best to work for.


From time to time, re-evaluate what you offer your team members. In addition to compensation and benefits, check out the perks that other agencies offer their teams. Increasing flexibility by allowing team members to work from home can also be seen as an advantage.

  • Prioritize employee recognition.

Team members need to feel valued, so make it a point to recognize and reward their hard work. How you do this is up to you. It could be as simple as congratulating someone on a smoothly completed project, or setting up a bonus program for achieving set goals.

In total

If you’re struggling to find qualified candidates to work at your agency and to stay for years, you need to change things. We tell our customers it’s not about them, and the same goes for us! Show how a particular job can benefit a potential candidate and don’t forget to keep your promises. In this way you can build the strongest possible team and position your agency for success.

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