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Hank Blank - Does Your Agency Know How To Find Great Talent?

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Published on Apr 13, 2015

I know all about talent. How to be surrounded by the best, the smartest. The ones that make you feel dumb and inspire you to strive to be better. You can fill in your rest.

I often sat in my new office chair at an agency looking out at the view from a skyscraper or office tower when I was hired at a great shop or transferred to another office within the network. I had a smile on my face just with the achievement of being hired.

Often the Principal of the firm would take the time and stop by unannounced in my office the first few days after I started.

They were polite and smiled and basically told me you are lucky to work here and implied through unsaid words that I should make sure I didn’t screw it up. I didn’t forget that lesson. Then the agency continued to train me.

Today, agencies can be funny places. Places of innovation and creativity where talent is funneled through HR or even finance people that really aren’t really creative or much engaged in the digital space.

How could an HR person with 75 LinkedIn connections and a weak profile know how to find Digital Marketing talent that is native in the digital world?

The Ying and the Yang of the agency world. The Owl and the Lamp.

Because of my network and online content in the New Normal, agencies and clients often reach out to me to find them great talent.

Find me the people that I can’t find they ask. It is always in digital space first of course but it can also be on the client side where really qualified marketing folks with classic disciplines can be hard to find as well.

Most young people are largely self-taught or osmosis taught today while senior agency management is largely classically trained in the Old Normal so there is a disconnect.

Agencies need to change their hiring lens today for the world they have created. If you don’t train you can’t blame or compare them to yourself. They may not have your chops but you didn’t come out of the womb texting.

I got an email from an agency contact from the other side or Old Normal the other day.

He was playing the part that he knows. The formulas of the past that he learned that I am not sure work today.

He was looking for some New Business folks.

He talked about the opportunity for a prospect to get easy wins because of their rolodex. I didn’t need to spellcheck rolodex because I have heard magical rolodexes before from numerous agencies but haven’t seen one in years. Is it beside the overhead machines, acetates, photocopying, and secretaries?

They wanted somebody with ten years’ experience.

I sent him a great candidate that immediately came to mind.

He had 10 years’ experience but he was 26.

He had started his career journey through his passion ten years ago when he and his buddy were 16. Three years before YouTube.

He and his partner built the company year by year. Youth for sure knows no time.

They have created commercials running on Network TV.

They have given me 1099’s.

I wonder if my contact will be able to see this opportunity.

Probably not.

In the New Normal, agencies need a different kind of hiring lens.

In the New Normal, agencies can’t find the best talent using the criteria of the past.

In the New Normal, agencies can’t build the future using the parameters of the past.

You pick your path.

Or you will never succeed because everybody knows that great talent builds an agency.

And great talent walks in and out of your agency’s doors every day and today they may never come back…

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