Most agency recruiters focus on filling their openings. Right now I’ve got two new business searches going. So I spend time looking for professionals that can find and win new business. But you might be looking for strategists right now. So you’re spending your energy on finding planning candidates.
But as advertising recruiters we have to maintain an agency talent pipeline. So that when you have to hire, for example, an account director or a creative director, you’ve already got a list of great candidates that are good fits for your agency. Having this list can dramatically lower your time to fill and drive recruiting efficiency. It can also lower your outside recruiting costs.
But how do you do that? While at the same time, keep presenting those urgently needed account planner candidates to your team?
One of the ways I maintain a pipeline is to use something I call a “relationship valentine.” Here are few hundred words on what it is and how advertising agency recruiters can use it to maintain and build a relationship with people you may want to eventually hire for your shop.
Relationship Valentine: thoughtful love without expectations
Back in the day, account folks would rip out an article in a trade magazine, attach a quick thought, and send it over to their client. It could have been an article about anything, really. Usually, though, it was business related. Something relevant to a matter at hand. It was thoughtful. And it demonstrated you were their advocate, you’re paying attention and are thinking about them and their business. (This kind of thing still happens, of course. It’s now a link instead of paper.)
Sometimes, there would be a follow-up conversation with the client. But not always. When yours truly used this technique in new business, I emailed hundreds of agency prospects a quick relationship valentine. Without any “sales” message from your truly and without any expectation on my part. For example:
Good afternoon. Here’s a story <link> that ran in today’s WSJ that discusses “the new consumer” and how some brands are reacting. It’s a little long, but interesting: think of how the trend might impact your innovation going into the new year. It can also provide context and support for a need to change.
And another one:
Here’s a fun thought-starter: the New York Times pulled together a cool interactive graphic <link> that shows how Americans spend their time each day. You can drill down by demographic. It can help remind your team of your consumer’s daily reality and how your brand fits in; provide some media planning context for potential purchase or consideration moments; and/or spur some promotional thinking.
A third example:
Hope you had a great Halloween. thought you might appreciate knowing what Kohl’s will be up to this holiday season. This article < link> broke last Thursday…
These were HTML emails, so I could get a sense for opens, clicks, agency website visits and more. But notice there’s no sales language in any of the examples. They’re just quick ways of staying on someone’s radar screen and demonstrating a little bit of smarts (without being self-serving).
Relationship valentines work for candidates, too
Why not do the same thing with candidates? After all, new business prospects for your agency are just like great candidates that you might want to hire later. And while you can certainly send them things about your agency over time (which agencies rarely do, by the way), you can also send items that are brief, thoughtful, relevant and interesting.
This technique is particularly helpful for passive candidates. People that are happy now at their existing agency, but may be good fits for your shop in the future.
Relationship valentine topic areas for candidates and agency recruiting
Here are a few thought-starters:
- Career thinking and advice
- Discipline or department-specific how-to
- Book reviews
- Podcast suggestions
- Local lifestyle tips
A side benefit of all this? This is material that can easily be repurposed and used for things like staff retention. If you go the how-to route, for example, you’re beginning to build a learning and development library. A cool idea might be to create a series of departmental how-to (coming from your leaders) that can be made into posts, newsletters, videos, podcasts, etc.
And of course, from time to time I’d want to include some information about the agency. This could mean a list of openings you might have, which can increase the size and efficacy of your talent pipeline. Not to mention incoming apps from qualified candidates.
If you’re thinking this is all just a form of content marketing, you’re right! One could easily take the lessons learned from content marketing gurus from places like Copyblogger and apply it to staying in front of prospective agency talent and job candidates.
Anywho, hope this gets you thinking about ways to maintain your agency’s brand awareness with your best candidates. Thanks for reading!
Other ways to lower your recruiting costs and lower your time to fill can be found here:
- Earn more referrals through check-ins and “you’re awesome” messages
- How to use client-side job changes to identify agency talent
Photo credit: Ben Kerckx