Attracting and retaining great talent is a significant challenge for many in the media world, in particular digital. With a relatively low level of unemployment amongst the wider economy, and digital media experiencing double digital growth yearly for the past decade, getting the best to come to your company and then keeping them motivated and inspired to stay is a key advantage. A common phrase you hear from managers and senior execs tasked with building teams is that ‘finding good people is bloody hard.’
One person that aims to help with this is David Jackson. He is the CEO of S2M recruitment, who work with numerous media and marketing companies to help find them the right people to build their business. Talking Digital spoke to him about the recruitment challenges facing the industry and the much discussed talent shortage.
Talking Digital: Is the recruitment industry fundamentally misunderstood by many?
David Jackson: Yes, I think the recruitment industry is a misunderstood industry but I can’t blame the clients for that, we must look at the people we employee as recruiters because I think it’s the extremely low barriers to entry that have had a huge impact on the perception of recruiters.
For example I opened an office inSingaporein July 2009 and at that stage the company had to be a registered recruitment business with a registration number that is used on all invoices. It’s actually against the law inSingaporefor a client to pay a recruitment invoice if this number is not valid. Fast forward 2 years and now to work as a recruitment consultant inSingaporeyou must have completed a 4 day government run course to register yourself. I praise the Singapore government for this regulation; it’s cleaned the industry up tenfold inSingapore.
My experience is actually double edged because after wages and rent, the next biggest line item on my P&L is recruiter’s fees. Yes, we in fact use a recruitment company to source our staff, because good recruiters are extremely arduous to find and our business has rapidly grown and to keep up to speed we are constantly hiring. We’re 16 strong now inAustraliaand without having a good rec to rec firm we’d never have got here. I can see from the client side why many misunderstand recruiters because it took me 4 years to find the right recruitment company to partner with to source our staff. We negotiated suitable terms and have built a good line of communication with the company so they know what exactly we’re looking for and they just call me when they see it. But in the meantime I’ve got recruiters calling me day in day out with their talent as they know we’re in hiring mode but without having that relationship it’s a waste of all our time meeting every single candidate presented to you. Clients need to understand recruitment is all about sales for the recruiter so without giving one recruiter the exclusive commitment you’re not going to get the recruiter working long hours for you sourcing the right talent for your businesses…..and it’s this fact that’s the most misunderstood. Clients naturally think that by giving the brief to several recruiters you are going to get the best person on the market, but often the reverse happens as you fail to commit one recruiter to the job so no one actually does any of the hard yards as they are not guaranteed of being paid for their time so they move onto a client who does commit to an exclusive agreement. This is when clients then say “recruiters never call me back” etc.
I also think that the turnover in the industry is misunderstood……recruitment is sales, it isn’t all about talking to people, yes we do talk to people all day long but that’s not the job. When I hear a potential employee say “I’m a people person” I run the other way…I want them to say “I’m a sales person and I understand the ABC, that a client wants features and benefits, you must then overcome objections and of course close the deal.” So it’s hard for clients when staff are constantly changing, hard to build and trust a relationship but this is where if you have the right procedures in place at your recruitment firm you can easily transfer the client to another consultant to get the same if not better results.
I could go on about all the other misunderstanding but in summary if the Australian government had a training and development requirement to help with retention, a TAFE course for recruitment and some form of programmed in place on the “fly by night” guys then the misunderstanding would dissolve….like Singapore!
TD: How do you view S2Mr? Recruiter/partner/advisor? All of the above? None of the above? Why? What makes S2M different?
DJ: All of the above. First and foremost we are a recruiter but as a recruiter we are partnering with our clients/candidates and advising them every day. I just placed a CEO and helped him across the line with my advice on how I’d drive this new dotcom start-up; he was extremely thankful, win-win for all three parties. My business partner and I have been working with some of the same clients since 1999 when we started in the industry so for over 12 years….if we weren’t all three then we couldn’t stand testament to these long lasting client relationships!
TD: Is there a talent shortage in the Australian media and creative market?
DJ: Yes there is, but I’ve been hearing this since the first dot com boom in 1999. The talent is there, it’s finding the quality that’s the problem for clients and why partnering with an exclusive recruiter solves most of their problems is securing talent for growth. We are bringing in a lot of talent from our UKpartners and via the Singaporeoffice.
TD: Is the industry doing enough to up skill its people (training, education, mentoring) to adequately fuel future growth and career development?
DJ: Probably not, but I do see a lot of courses these days for up skilling on Mobile or Project management…..I think AIMIA is leading the way and trying to continually educate the talent. I had a coffee with Claudia Sagripanti yesterday and she’s now started Digital Nation that will solely focus on up skilling and training the industry. Digital Cadet started a few years ago and is doing a brilliant job at the entry level. I’d like to see the government get more involved actually, and offer incentives to the agencies to train their staff…I know that I’ve secured sponsorship rights due to the amount of money we spend each year on training our staff, which is great for the industry, it’s help grow it and is helping us overcome the staff turnover issue.
TD: As someone who speaks to a lot of people looking for a new role, or companies seeking to fill a vacant role, what are the key reasons people choose to pursue new jobs?
DJ: More money is the number on and has been for years…. as the talent knows they are in demand. Working on better client accounts is the second factor and the final one is work life balance as lots of agency talent is looking to move client side to get away from working all the long hours agency requires to pay the bills!