Get more job candidates at your digital agency

Need to get more job candidates at your agency? Follow this advice to find the right people faster!

Hiring at your agency? Sometimes, you’ll get hundreds of job applicants. Other times, you’ll struggle to get a dozen… and none of them are qualified.

More candidates typically means you can be more selective about hiring, which tends to produce better employees. Follow this advice to get more job candidates, based on my experience as a digital agency coach.

Note: I assume you’re focusing on local-ish candidates for full-time roles in a metro area of 500,000+ people, and you’re using an Applicant Tracking System instead of wasting time on email and spreadsheets.

Choose job boards

Job boards are the fastest way to get your job in front of a lot of people. (But not all of those people are the right people.) Here are some options—you probably want to pick 1-2:

  • Craigslist: Hit or miss, but you should probably post here.
  • Indeed: General board, broad reach.
  • Monster: Big site.
  • SEEK: Top job board in Australia.
  • ZipRecruiter: Aggregator and syndicator to 100 job boards.

Use local or specialist job boards

There are lots of specialist job boards, by region and by role. They have a smaller reach, but (in theory) a more-qualified audience. For instance:

If you subscribe to the Bureau of Digital community’s Slack group ($20/month), there’s a jobs channel. It’s currently restricted to past event attendees, but they’re planning to open the group in 2018.

Connect with local marketing associations

You should already be plugged into your local marketing associations. Go to monthly meetings at the minimum, and consider getting further involved as a volunteer (but be careful about time commitments).

For digital marketing, that typically includes the American Marketing Association (AMA), American Advertising Federation (AAF), and design organization AIGA:

Many cities have local groups, too, ranging from casual tech and marketing meetups to regional organizations like AZIMA in Phoenix, KickassPM in Austin, and SEMpdx in Portland.

Some have formal job boards. Others have an informal way to share postings—for instance, via their social media channel, or by email amongst board members. Make it easy by sharing a link that points directly to the job you’re promoting.

Warning: Don’t just show up and act entitled if you’ve never had contact with them before—if they share your posting, they’re doing you a favor.

Connect with industry-vertical trade associations

Your agency specializes, right? You should be plugged into your clients’ trade association(s), too. They often have job boards.

Even if there isn’t a formal job board process, the association staff may be getting inquiries from people seeking new roles. And if you’re a sponsor of the association, you may be able to get an email promo or two about the position.

Consider LinkedIn job postings

I see agencies getting mixed results through LinkedIn job postings—sometimes they get good candidates, sometimes not. It tends to work better in larger metro areas.

Important: To get higher-quality candidates, do NOT enable “Let candidates apply with their LinkedIn profile and notify me by email.” (Otherwise, you’ll be flooded with one-click, zero-effort applicants.)

Share with your personal network

Post on social media, and email people directly. People can’t help you if they don’t know you’re hiring. But don’t overdo it—posting daily on your personal Facebook profile is probably a bad idea.

Make it easy for people to share—as I noted above about associations, this includes having a deep link that points directly to the job description. No logins, no extra clicks. The link needs to stand alone.

Send directly to influencers

Asking influencers to help works best if you have existing relationships—but people will consider sharing (especially via social media) if you and your agency seem credible and the role seems valuable. (Remember, they’re sharing to help their network, not to help you.)

If you’re hiring for an entry-level role (or one that’s targeted to people within 1-4 years of graduation), consider sharing the posting with professors and career services contacts in the fields you’re recruiting from. Ideally, you’ll have built those relationships before you need to call on them.

I know if I ask one of my marketing contacts at NC State, “Who are your best current students?” and “Do you have any recent grads who may be looking for a new role?”—I’d get some leads.

Decide whether to use a recruiter

If you’re still having trouble finding people—or you don’t want to spend the time to do it yourself—you can hire a recruiter.

Hiring a recruiter is an expensive solution. Typically, recruiters charge a placement fee equivalent to 15-25% of the role’s first-year salary. Often, this comes with some level of guarantee—if the candidate doesn’t stay three months, you get a free replacement.

They don’t get paid unless you fill the job. This is good—they keep working—but also creates some incentive alignment problems—they won’t dig too deeply to vet a candidate because your saying “no” on a finalist candidate means they don’t get paid.

Some recruiters work on a freelance hourly basis, rather than a percentage (contingency) basis. This approach may work if you’re trying to source candidates but plan to handle the rest of the process from there.

Next steps for your agency

Lots of options, right? You’ll need to choose the approach that works for you. In general, I recommend doing a combo of job boards, local associations, and influencer outreach.

You can expand this strategy if you have a team member who can take the lead on this—and you may need to if you don’t get the right candidates in Round 1… or Round 2. If you’re still not getting good candidates, consider that you aren’t making the job sound appealing. After all, recruiting is a two-way street—you’re looking for what you want, but it needs to be something candidates want, too.

Recruiting can be time-consuming—but as an agency owner, building the right team is one of your most vital jobs. Good luck!

Question: How do you find the right job candidates at your agency?

Image credit: Now Hiring photo by Amtec Staffing