Recruiter’s Corner: it’s time to move past recycled talent in adland
Industry TrendsConsumerMarketing, Sales, and StrategyExecutive Search
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August 10, 2021
Industry TrendsConsumerMarketing, Sales, and StrategyExecutive Search
Executive Summary
This article features Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Norm Yustin on recommendations to help marketing agencies attract and retain talent.

Excerpt from the article originally published in The Drum

With supply outpacing demand and client needs changing by the minute, agencies are faced with urgent challenges when it comes to staffing up. In this edition of Recruiter's Corner, Russell Reynolds Associates managing director Norm Yustin discusses the five key changes adland needs to make in order to attract and retain fresh talent. 

1. Agencies need to look outside the industry for C-suite talent. "The biggest ask we get is more diversity at the top. We just mapped the whole market for a major agency CEO search. Of all the global agency CEOs, most are white males. It's almost startling. The agency wanted to bring in more diversity, but it was very hard because they wanted an established CEO. But they also wanted fresher ideas... I've proposed creative solutions and it's scary [for clients.] They say, '[the candidate] needs to know our business and there is a nuance to our business and they need that creative edge.' So, there's 100 reasons why not to hire someone from a different background. But the only other solution is you've got this same group of non-diverse people, over and over again, in every single search. It's all recycled talent." 

2. Agencies need to be willing to accept the 'bomb throwers'. "There is an age old trend where agencies try to bring in all types of different talent and spit them out. I call it 'this too shall pass'. It's just: 'I'm going to do my thing and let this chief digital officer that's coming into the agency to try and make us digital, flame out.' They are the ones who have the legacy client relationships and will just hunker down into their P&L until they survive the bomb throwers... The big challenge is not finding innovative, amazing people. It's whether the agency ecosystem will adapt and change fast enough culturally. It's an acceptance of a new way of doing things which is very threatening, scary and human. I have a lot of empathy for people who go through it, [but] there's a lot of cultural transformation that has to happen at agencies." 

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