The ‘ideal candidate’ doesn’t exist — we must invest in potential

Move away from ‘perfection’ and start embracing change, implementing stronger employee value propositions and investing in the talent of tomorrow.
March 07, 2024
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The media job market is increasingly competitive. Ad-focused services battle for the same talent because, by nature, they share the same general model and core need: planning and buying media.

Roles across the board therefore provide similar offerings to candidates and we are all searching the same pool for the most experienced and qualified talent, ie. the ideal candidate.

But does the ideal candidate truly exist? In an equally ideal world, maybe. In reality, securing such talent can be challenging for many reasons, including salary inflation, immense choice in the market and, of course, the candidate’s own preference.

The power of potential

From a business perspective, “ideal” means the delivery of the highest quality of client work as efficiently as possible, often translated as the ability to “hit the ground running”.

Truthfully, there aren’t many people who can step into a new role and immediately pick things up, with minimal guidance, regardless of how impressive they are at an interview.

There is also a growing appetite among candidates to develop and learn. Sphere Digital Recruitment data shows that approximately 75% of candidates in our market now move jobs for more responsibility, career development and remuneration.

Therefore, we must look away from “perfection” and shift our focus towards how we can support top talent through investing in potential rather than unattainable ideals.

Businesses must start implementing fast-track training programmes, focusing on nurturing new employees and building on existing skills, keeping junior talent engaged and progressing through the most important early years of their careers.

Closing the gap

A huge socioeconomic class gap also continues to exist within the ad industry. These overlooked groups often show immense potential and it’s our responsibility to start closing this gap by enabling equal opportunities throughout the hiring process.

We should be striving for evidence-based approaches, which will widen our candidate scope in the market, make room for potential talent and minimise bias at assessment stages.

At GroupM, a range of entry-level initiatives aim to give people from every socioeconomic background equal opportunities. Mindshare’s Declassify, for example, recently introduced pre-interview meetings with entry-level candidates with no connections to the industry.

GroupM also partners with What You Know Digital, a nonprofit training initiative helping to lower the barriers for young people from under-represented backgrounds.

And it’s not just important to diversify entry-level talent. We must provide equal opportunities to people of all ages and experiences, across industries and sectors.

GroupM also works with WPP, Brixton Finishing School and Uninvisibility on the Visible Start programme, which supports women over the age of 45 looking to return to or join the ad industry. This focuses on confidence-building, transferable skills and media skills training.

Selling culture

A candidate’s sway in the recruitment process has unequivocally shifted over the last decade. Whereas before it was largely the hiring manager asking “Why should we hire you?”, it’s now closer to “Pick us — this is what we can give you”.

Selling culture is more important than ever. Bright Network’s latest What Do Graduates Want? report found that culture is a key decision in the application process — 47% of recent and current graduates actively research employer commitment to diversity and inclusion, while 44% look at employee mental wellbeing.

To sell culture, you need to get to know your people, because culture is made up of individual experiences, opinions and contributions. Any qualified candidate can plan and buy media — but where can they add the most value, be the happiest and make the biggest impact?

Mental health allies, regular events and company-wide time off are some of the ways an organisation can highlight the importance of bringing your happiest self to work.

Beyond the ideal

We are an industry of continual change, so it’s time we embrace change in the way we hire. Trust in and partner with your talent team. Have conversations about these changes with your clients. Hire on potential and train skills wherever possible. Diversify talent pools. Sell culture — and stand by what you sell.

As media agencies, we must accept that the ideal candidate does not exist. It’s up to us to lead the way by implementing stronger employee value propositions. Only then can we find and nurture the emerging talent of tomorrow and invest wholeheartedly in unlocking their potential.

Original Article: The Media Leader

Embrace Evolution: Redefine Perfection, Elevate Talent, and Pioneer Tomorrow’s Success. For all your recruitment challenges – contact our HR & digital recruitment specialist Gareth Allison on 02920 620702

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