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Six ways agencies can nurture your talent

Posted: 30 May 2017

Written by Lead Consultant Eloise Gottlieb

As a recruitment consultant for brand, design and content agencies, I am privileged to be part of London’s unrivalled creative community. The people who work in it are the most talented bunch you’ll meet and the work they produce is world-renowned.

But a recent report cited by Marketing Week suggests agency talent is increasingly moving client-side. I for one am definitely hearing from more and more agency folk telling me “I want to move client-side” - but why? I take a look at the six main reasons candidates are giving me, to see if the wonderful world of agency can still provide what you’re looking for:

“I want to focus on just one brand.”

It’s true that in agencies, you’ll often be working on multiple clients and projects. Some people love this variety, while others would prefer to be the go-to expert on one brand. Well, if you’re in the latter camp, this can still be achieved as an agency account handler or planner. Don’t believe me? We work with dozens of brilliant agencies who have deep, strong relationships as trusted advisors to their clients, where you’re 100% dedicated to their business. The best bit in an agency is that you can work as a brand expert, while staying close to the strategy and creative work that makes a brand so strong.

“I want to work for a brand that I really love.” 

I meet many people who want to turn their hobby into their job. Sport, fashion, beauty, charity, lifestyle… these are often the holy grail for agency candidates wanting to make a client-side move. Let me flag a few words of caution here. While of course it’s super important to love your job, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a personal affinity with the brand you work on. For most people, job satisfaction is derived from working with like-minded people, feeling challenged and making a difference in a company whose values and culture you share. Great marketing people – whether agency or client-side – are those who can transform a failing or troubled brand into one that connects brilliantly with its audiences. If the sector really is still your key driver, then maybe focus your job search on an agency that specializes in an area close to your heart. From luxury to charity and drinks to tech, we work with a whole host of different agencies. Or furthermore, you could use your spare time to make something more of your hobby: write a food blog, fundraise for charity, coach football...that way you can really indulge your passions without letting the day job ruin the fun.

“I want a better work-life balance.”

Hmmm, that’s a tricky one and it’s the reason I hear more often than any other. Agency bods often think that their client counterparts have an easier, or at least a more flexible work-life than they do. How many of us have been at the receiving end of a new brief at 5pm on a Friday, when the client can slip off home? Well, the reality is that your client has probably given you that brief as they have 101 other things to deal with. It’s true that some agencies can have a culture of longer hours, but I know many agency HR professionals who’ve made great strides to change this. Similarly, the agency approach to flexible and part-time policies is gradually changing and I’ve placed more part-timers in agencies in the past couple of years than ever before. However, if switching to a flexible working pattern is your main driver, the truth is that it’s easier to do this in a company that already knows and values you – whether that be an agency or client-side.

“I’m fed up with client service.”

The role of account management can vary hugely from one agency to another. Think about what you do and don’t like about the job, and you may just find that moving to a different agency with new clients will give you a fresh burst of enthusiasm. If not, you might discover an alternative agency role that ticks the boxes. Want to focus more on strategy? How about moving to a brand agency that really values strategic input from its client managers. This could be a great stepping-stone towards a pure brand consultant or planner role in the future. Don’t want to be client facing, but you love dealing with the studio? Look at roles for an internal-facing project manager. What if you decide it’s a broader marketing role that you’re really after? Then how about transferring your skills to be the marketing manager of an agency? If you still love the agency environment but not the role you’re doing, we can help so just let us know what it is you really want.

“I want to work for a bigger company with more progression.”

Maybe you’re thinking this because you’re in a small or medium sized agency. Investigate a move to one of the bigger, global agencies and you’ll find that the structure, benefits and career progression opportunities are just as good as you’ll find in a client-side organisation. I’ve placed candidates who’ve been transferred to overseas offices, promoted to run big teams and who enjoy generous holiday and sabbaticals in their agency roles.

“I want to work for a start-up.”

Well, small start-ups are quite the big thing and who wouldn’t want to be a part of it? There are two agency-side options for you here: firstly, how about joining a start-up agency? Here, you’ll be doing all the same things as you would in a client-side start-up and have a very varied role: securing funding, business development, defining your positioning, creating all your own marketing – as well as servicing clients, developing strategy and most importantly making the tea! One sugar, or two? If it’s working on a cool new innovation that motivates you, you’d be surprised by the number of agencies that are working with start-ups to define and create their brands.

So, before you wave adios to agency life, have a good think about your motivations and whether the brilliant creative and, yes, sometimes chaotic world of agency can in fact nurture your talent.

If client-side marketing is still calling, then perhaps it’s time to take the leap of faith. Read what our founder, Claire Owen, advises when thinking about Switching Sides and get in touch today to see how we can help.

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