I admit I’m a sucker for Digiday’s “The Confessions” series. When I started writing my columns for Talent Zoo back in 2002, I did it anonymously because I feared repercussions. So I get that there are those in power who can’t talk freely.
Like this “holding company agency exec” who complains about the lack of staffing at his agency and the workload backlog it’s causing.
It’s hard to feel sorry for this guy. Because his complaining comes under the guise of the supposed “war for talent.”
There is no war for talent in the ad industry. There never has been.
There have always been more people wanting to get into and stay in the advertising industry than there are jobs for those people.
Tens of thousands of people were laid off last year in the ad industry. Many have found another gig. Still, others haven’t. Not to mention the ad schools, universities, diversity initiatives, and mentoring programs training new talent to enter an already crowded industry. Why do we think there’s a lack of available workers?
Yet this “war for talent” notion keeps perpetuating itself. Lauren Ranke, the Director of Talent for Wieden + Kennedy, recently posted an Art Director position on LinkedIn. And it got a lot of attention.
Does anyone actually believe W+K needs to advertise an art director position? It’s ridiculous. They’ll generate hundreds of responses from eager creatives thinking they now have a way into one of the world’s best agencies. How many will be seriously considered? How much time will be spent considering each applicant?
It might be rare for W+K, but most agencies do advertise open positions even if those agencies ultimately use recruiters or internal recommendations to fill positions. And those posts generate reams of responses. So it’s ludicrous to suggest they’re having a tough time finding people. Agencies need to look at their hiring process: What happens to an application from a jobseeker once it’s submitted to an agency applicant tracking system? Or routed some other way?
Nowhere in the Digiday Confessions article about the supposed “War For Talent” does it mention how his agency claims to want to win this war. I’d be curious to know if this “holding company agency exec” has any idea about how to apply for a job at their agency, or who’s been applying, or how applicants get filtered, or their interview process, or the salaries being offered.
In the ad industry, the interview process is an appalling mishmash of being ignored, ghosted, dismissed, lost, delayed for months, forced to travel to interview at one’s own expense, lowballed, asked to take an unpaid “skills test,” or being told you’re not a “culture fit” or “not quite what we’re looking for.”
This is bigger than ageism, sexism, classism, or any other -ism. Any agency having trouble attracting talent needs to look in the mirror. And look at how job seekers actually experience the process. Odds are agency management has no clue how it actually works — because it’s not working.