Ahead of the talent game: the face of performance marketing recruitment

Streamlining the scrutiny and looking beyond the traditional: just two ways that the process of talent attraction and recruitment is having to adapt

With a talent demand, and scarcely a lack of supply in some areas, it’s understandable that organisations hiring performance marketers have had to rethink their approach to attracting, recruiting and onboarding. 

As part of PMW’s Performance Marketing Workforce series, we delve into the changes, the progress and the outcomes with the lived experiences of our experts and our survey respondents when it comes to bringing people into the industry. Here’s the top tips and thoughts.

1: Widen your talent search 

So short of poaching each other’s staff, where else can performance marketing agencies, and brands hiring for those roles, look for talent?

Dale Fisher, Global Head of Paid Social and Display, Superbet, considers that as an industry we may be over-demanding ourselves. “I think sometimes you can over-engineer what you are looking for,” he says.

“Let’s not hide away from the fact that there are specialisms and you need the skills set to be able to deliver on those, but sometimes we can ask for too much, for example, three years’ experience, or they need to have worked at an agency or have a degree in X, Y and Z. 

“And actually some of the best people I’ve hired haven’t had that level of experience. I’ve hired them on the back of their enthusiasm and their personality and their willingness to learn and give it a go.”

He points out that broadening out the talent search is worth considering – for people, not just roles.

“If you outsource it, even if you use your internal recruitment team or an agency, if you tell them ‘this is the type of person that I'm looking for’ that's all they will look for. Sometimes you've got to be a bit more forgiving and go a bit broader.

“Sometimes you lose track of the fact that you are hiring people. And let's be honest. We have a three month buffer for both sides to figure out whether or not it's something that's going to work out. So take the risk and it might be that you brought someone in that isn't quite right for what you wanted them to do originally, but actually they're a superstar at something that can bring value to your organisation.”

Rakhee Jogia, International Managing Director of Rakuten Advertising, tells us about looking outside the industry, “people who are looking for a change in industry or change of pace, maybe they're in an industry that they don't really love so much and are wondering what they can do next?”

The recruitment talent pool itself is one area that has created opportunities, she says. “We have a fantastic recruiter and he's helped us by sending his talent our way and we’ve recruited his people. And it's been really interesting because I think we're seeing there is a lot more opportunity.”

Location factors have also become much less of a consideration – if you can be flexible, says Farhad Divecha, Managing Director, Accuracast.

“When the pandemic hit, one of the first major organisational changes we had was the realisation that we no longer need to limit ourselves to London when recruiting. The global talent pool is much bigger and for performance marketing in particular, agencies can recruit internationally if they’re willing to adapt to a truly flexible work model.”

2) Don’t skimp on the brief – or the brief(ing)

If you want to recruit exceptional talent, then words on a screen is not always going to cut it. Matt Dailey, Chief Performance Officer at Havas explains how getting in front of your recruiter has made a difference.

"Because in our industry there's so much word salad that we put into things, it's really difficult for people to sometimes interpret accurately"

 - Matt Dailey, Chief Performance Officer, Havas Media Group

“We have an internal recruitment team and we do have preferred suppliers that we go to, but we are having to try and spread the net wider What we’re doing more – and I don't think it's necessarily in response to the pandemic, but it just seems to work better, is we actually get the recruiters in a room.

“We send out the brief and the job spec, but then we actually get them in a room or on a zoom call to then talk them through the brief and answer questions from all of them at the same time. And I found that – in the instances where I've been involved – we instantly get a better quality of candidate, more relevant.

“I think because in our industry there's so much word salad that we put into things, it's really difficult for people to sometimes interpret accurately. And sometimes it's difficult to write the briefs and until you get some of those questions, you almost formulate it as you go.

“It’s been hugely valuable as a relatively new thing. I don’t know how much other people do it, who worked it out before us, but getting the recruiters in and actually walking them through the brief, talking to them about it has been really important.”

3) Get agile – if you want them, see them

The speed at which the industry has had to react in terms of recruitment has been immense.

“People have options at the moment, in the UK, there are more jobs than people out there in our industry. I think everyone's spoiled for choice. We're finding people apply. We respond to them within three or four hours trying to organise an interview – [sometimes] they just don't respond to you,” says Martin Kelly, UK and APAC CEO, Kepler 

“If you see a CV, you have to see the person In the following two days, otherwise you lose people,” adds Andrew-Spurrier Dawes, EMEA Head of Precision at Wavemaker.

Anne Stagg, UK CEO of Merkle agrees: “We had to be very efficient and make sure we moved through the recruitment process. Make a great candidate experience and put ourselves in the best position when it comes to making an offer.” 

Building a diverse pipeline… for over five years

“Looking beyond the traditional sources of talent has been a long term strategy of ours, not only to create more opportunity to people who face additional challenges or inequality but to deliver a pipeline of talent from diverse backgrounds to fuel creativity and drive innovation across the business. “dentsu established The Code in 2017, with the aim of opening the doors of our industry to students from underrepresented backgrounds, through immersive workshops, work experience opportunities and apprenticeships. In the UK, The Code has empowered over 15,000 young people to be the next generation of leaders; hiring these rising stars into dentsu has changed the way we work for good. “Social Mobility is a strategic priority to bring diverse perspectives into dentsu. We removed degree requirements and set a goal of hiring 25% of our early careers roles from underr-epresented backgrounds, achieving 28% in 2021 through working with partners including The Prince’s Trust.” - Les Marshall, Head of Talent & Leadership, dentsu UK