Hiring digital marketing professionals for your digital agency has become increasingly difficult, with competition for digital marketers increasing.
Quality digital marketers have recruiters and other agencies reaching out to them with opportunities constantly, and if you are interviewing an SEO Executive or Digital Marketing Manager, it’s not uncommon for them to be interviewing at other agencies and businesses.
Which is to say nothing of the risks of making a bad hire, and the £10,000’s that can cost your business!
All of which means it’s never been more important to understand how to perfect your hiring process and hire quality digital marketing professionals for your digital agency. In short, it looks like this:
While this does give you a good outline, it doesn’t really tell you much.
Now let’s have a look at the full step-by-step guide, to give you all the information you need.
The first step of any hiring process is understanding exactly who you are looking for.
This means sitting down with the hiring manager, the candidate’s future manager and the team they will be joining to take a detailed brief and understand what the business needs from the candidate. This will include questions such as:
Asking these questions (and probably more that are specific to your agency and the role), will help you to build a job profile of your ideal candidate, while still giving you flexibility.
Once you have the job profile that will help you to identify the right person for the role, there are some other questions to ask that will help you to attract the right person. Such as:
During this process it may be worth reflecting on your own internal salary bands: To make sure that you won’t run into any issues with bringing someone into the business at a higher salary. Consulting salary surveys (such as ours here at Herd Digital) or looking at salaries of job adverts online can be a great place to gain information from outside of your organisation.
Before you speak to any candidates, it’s worth time thinking about what their motivations for moving are likely to be.
There are a few common reasons people move in digital marketing:
Understanding these motivators can help you to sell the opportunity and pitch to candidates. Of course you can only find out a specific person’s motivators by talking to them, although not everyone is forthcoming with sensitive topics like feeling burnout from being overworked.
With how competitive the digital marketing industry is for hiring, it’s important to know how to set yourself apart from the rest. And this relates heavily to understanding your candidates motivators and appealing to those.
This can be things like:
The list is practically endless. But only you can say which your agency does better than everybody else’s.
And when you find out a specific candidate’s motivators for moving roles, that’s your opportunity to reinforce how joining your agency will alleviate these issues.
Once you’ve got your job profile and selling points sorted, it’s time to put pen to paper and write your job adverts.
Posting your job adverts on as many job boards as possible will obviously maximise your potential candidates. Your own website, Indeed, Reed and LinkedIn are the places to start, although some are free and some cost money, and aren’t cheap either.
Advertising your new role on social platforms is also a great way to spread the word about your hiring. We advise LinkedIn, Twitter and even Threads, as these are the most professionally focused social platforms, where you’re more likely to reach digital marketers looking for a new role. Although it can also be worth your time exploring Meta (Facebook, Instagram etc).
If your hiring needs are urgent, it may be worth considering paid advertising. However, this can be expensive and time-consuming, if you receive an influx of applications who aren’t right for the role.
And if your job advert is bringing in hundreds of applications then great! Unfortunately, that does mean more work for you!
It can take a lot of time to really go through and thoroughly check each applicant, and they may end up all being unsuitable anyway. If that’s the case, then it’s time to focus on reaching out to potential candidates.
Reaching out to candidates and outbound leads we’ve broken up into two sections: identifying potential candidates, and reaching out to them.
A great place to start is to look in your existing talent pool of potential candidates, and previous candidates.
This can include people in your network and industry who you know are actively looking for a new role, or someone who has applied to a role with you previously. If you’ve kept a record of these, this can be a quick win for you.
Next comes searching job boards and LinkedIn. Searching through LinkedIn profiles can take days depending on the specific requirements for the role. For example, there are thousands more SEO Executives to choose from, than there are Head of SEOs.
If your agency pays to have access to job boards like CV Library, Reed and Indeed, then you can search for relevant CVs there. Although this can sometimes be more time and money than it’s worth, as the best candidates aren’t always actively searching for new jobs. Because they have recruiters constantly approaching them.
If you don’t have access to a potential candidate’s phone number or email, then you’ll need to reach out on LinkedIn.
Although this carries its own risks, as LinkedIn can penalise and even ban your account for suddenly reaching out to and adding too many people in a short period of time. Additionally, if you don’t pay for a LinkedIn premium account or Recruiter account, you will be limited with the amount of people you can connect with each week.
And as we mentioned, the best candidates aren’t usually actively looking for a role. Which can mean you need to do some headhunting: Calling people while they’re at their desk and selling them your opportunity and company.
Additionally, a lot of the people you speak to or try to speak to, won’t be available during the typical work hours. Which means you may be forced to be flexible and work outside of those work hours, calling them before and after work, and even on weekends when necessary.
And a lot of these busy professionals may not have a CV ready to hand either. But in our opinion, if someone looks like a strong candidate from their LinkedIn profile and from a chat on the phone, it may be worth interviewing them without a CV. Because you can get much more information and understanding from them about their skills and experience than you can from 20 minutes going back and forth via email, getting a CV, and then reading through it.
And it helps to stop you from missing out on potential great candidates. But if you’re not sure whether they’d be a good fit or not, then your time may be better spent waiting for a CV.
But how can you tell the two apart? Let’s discuss how to recognise the great candidates from the not so great.
When evaluating candidates’ profiles or CVs, there are a few different things to consider and look out for.
Some clients we work with at Herd, prefer candidates who have stayed at a company and seen genuine progression or a promotion there. And while digital marketers often switch roles to learn new skills, too many roles may paint them as a flight risk.
Recommendation from others on their network can be a vote of confidence in their abilities, showing that they’re as good as they say they are.
If you have mutual connections or acquaintances with the candidate, or someone has endorsed their skills, you can always reach out to ask for a reference or introduction. After all, the digital marketing world isn’t infinite.
This is one that every hiring manager knows to look out for, but it’s one worth mentioning anyway. When a candidate focuses purely on the responsibilities, it may simply be a lack-of-understanding on what to focus on in their CV. Or, indicate that they simply did the necessary and minimum in a previous role.
A crucial element of hiring digital marketing professionals for your digital agency is having established interview questions that allow you to measure responses and evaluate the candidates impartially.
Let’s discuss the interview structure that we’ve found gives the most success for the digital agencies we work with.
Interview 1 should be more of a screening call than an interview. A chemistry meeting that helps you to decide whether they sound like a good fit for your team, and to make sure they are who they say they are. This is best done over the phone, or even on a video call.
Interview 2 should be either over video conference, or ideally in person if logistically feasible. If you have any tasks or presentations for the candidate to complete, the 2nd or 3rd interview are the place to do them. This allows the candidate to show off their skills, and gives you the confidence that they have the skills needed to do the job.
If you like the candidate, then this is the time to try and reduce the risks of them accepting an offer anywhere else while you’re making your decision.
Asking the candidate if they have any questions or anything that would prevent them from moving forward in the process, allows you to address any objections before they surface.
As well as asking them if they have any ongoing interviews elsewhere, allowing you to move the process forward faster if you need to.
In general we would advise having more than two or three interviews in your hiring process. This reduces the risk of losing candidates to competitors, or simply losing their interest and goodwill.
Similarly, if you start to think this candidate is someone you would consider making an offer to, it may be time to start discussing counter offers.
So start off by asking them, what could their current company do or say, to get them to stay.
This then gives you the opportunity to argue why this perhaps isn’t in their best interest. You can even give them an anecdote about a time someone you know accepted a counter offer, or even when you offered a counter offer, and it wasn’t the right decision.
Of course one of the benefits of working with an external recruitment agency like us here at Herd, is we mitigate these risks for you. We coach candidates through counter offers, expedite the hiring process and candidates are often more open and honest with us about their concerns and other ongoing opportunities.
When actually making the offer to a candidate, it’s important to make your best offer first. This obviously increases your chances of the candidate accepting your offer, but also shows that you’re putting your best foot forward and not trying to lowball them.
We would always advise making the offer over the phone, via video call or face-to-face. This allows you to gauge their reaction, and immediately answer any lingering questions they have. We would then advise following up with the formal offer over email, that contains all the necessary information like salary, benefits, and start date.
After they have accepted, have another follow-up call to discuss how they’re going to resign, when they will hand their notice in, who they will hand it to, and what they think the reaction will be.
This prepares the candidate for the potential reactions they will face, readies them for any counter offers, and gives you an excuse to call and check in on them.
Which leads us to what to do after you’ve made the offer. Because even though they’ve accepted your offer, your work doesn’t stop yet.
The time after you make the offer is crucial, to help prevent counter offers and get the candidate placement over the line.
Ask the candidate to give you a call after they have handed in their notice, or book the call in with them. Because when they hand their notice in, that’s when doubts start to creep in…
And there to counter those doubts, is you welcoming them to the team, informing them of their start date, and inviting them to meet the team without the pressure of an interview.
During their notice period you should aim to stay in touch with a weekly phone call, to keep them engaged and excited about the opportunity.
Which will also help to reduce the risk of a counter offer, or the candidate continuing with other interviews during this period.
And once they’ve started and they’re settling into the role, your job doesn’t end there!
Whether you work directly with the new digital marketer on your team or not, arranging a weekly catch-up to see how they’re getting on can help to increase their chances of passing probation and choosing to stay.
Giving them the opportunity to ask any questions, or discuss challenges or issues helps to prevent problems for festering and people leaving during their probation period.
If you’re looking for more information on employee retention, have a look at our guide here.
And if all of the above sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is a lot of work!
Hiring the right digital marketing professionals for your digital agency is a difficult and time-consuming task. Which is why it’s something we do for a living.
If you’re struggling to hire digital marketing or have struggled in the past, it may be worth having an initial chat and a free consultation, to see if we can help support your hiring needs.
We're here to help. Check out our FAQs, send us an email or call us on 0208 629 6006.