Recruiting creative people isn’t easy

Recruiting great creative talent is hard.

The best, most talented creatives are always in demand and have their choice of where to go work. Good creatives have high standards! They aren’t going to work just anywhere. If you need top creative talent, you need to build a culture that allows them to do great work. 


Start by bringing in fresh client challenges. These are challenges that don’t have easy, “textbook” solutions and will require the best out of your current team to succeed. Make sure that these clients need great solutions—that they won’t settle for “pretty good” —because the challenges that they face are huge!

This has a side benefit. Clients with enormous challenges are willing to pay more. (But that isn’t the topic for today.)

If you’ve got those kinds of opportunities (and hopefully some case studies demonstrating how you’ve solved those challenges), you have completed step 1 in the recruiting process!

Laying the Foundation

Creative people don’t want to join a company; they want to be part of a community—like a band, or an artist colony.

They want to hear about the freedom that they have to explore, take risks, and work in a way that works for them. But top-notch creatives don’t just want ping-pong tables, and catered lunches; they want a culture in which they can do their best work. 

Does your company have a culture that’s more than a plaque on the wall? Do you have a community that truly lives by its values?

You’ve built the foundation, NOW how do you attract those star quality creatives?

When you are ready to recruit, tap your existing team first.

Who would they want to have on their team? Who do they know from school? What professors can they introduce you to that will send their best students to you—as interns or young graduates? Word-of-mouth produces the best candidates because our team knows the kind of people who succeed here.

If you need more candidates than you can get with word of mouth, then you have to market your exciting and significant challenges and top-notch work environment. You need to develop your employer brand. 

Screen with creativity

Always conduct a phone screen for the first step, but if you want to go the extra mile, make it a video interview. Easy to do, and you learn a lot more! 

When it comes time for the interview instead of having a candidate meet 3 – 4 people for 30 minutes each; put everyone in the room for a 90 min interview; that way everyone sees the same “performance” and you can go much deeper. 

Sometimes there’s not that much to discuss with candidates that are new grads, so find a project to work on with them. Make it a real project so that you, and they, can see what it’s like to work here. I’m not talking about having them to actual client work for free — just something you could work together on in the interview to see what collaborating with them would be like.

Finally, use a personality profiling tool and check references. You want to get all the information you can when you are making an important decision.

Close the deal

Once you have separated the cream of the crop, make them a strong written offer, and follow up with a phone call to seal the deal. Make sure you don’t leave anything to chance — make their first day special too! They can fill out forms before they come; make the first day about meeting the team and getting right to work.

Learn more about building and developing a strong team on July 30th — I’m part of a panel of experts presenting a free webinar where we discuss how to attract great people in this tight employment market. Sign up here!

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