It’s not often talked about, but believe me, it’s a major concern for agency owners and businesses. How do you retain your top digital talent? How do you keep them happy? And, how do you keep your eye on the next hire?
Recently, I’ve heard from a number of trusted sources and friends that a number of agencies and businesses are struggling to find the right social talent. Not at all levels, mind you, but in some spots, these organizations are having a tough time finding the right people.
So, it’s critical you not only have a retention plan in place for these folks within your orgnization but you’re also working hard to identify and cultivate the next wave of talent you need and want for your business.
How do you do it?
A few ideas:
* Keep the pipeline full. Just because you are fully staffed now doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Obviously, on the agency side things can change quickly. One new account and you may need to add 2-3 people–quickly. If you have a pipeline full of potential hires, this process won’t be nearly as painful–or lengthy. I love what local Minneapolis branding agency, Fast Horse, is doing along these lines. Using Facebook to keep in contact with future hires, so when the opportunity comes along, they have a number of candidates to pull from.
* Network where the geeks live. Another way to keep that pipeline full? Attend local events where people with digital talent hang out. In Minneapolis that usually means events like the monthly MIMA sessions, Social Media Breakfast or any number of the local tweet-ups around town. In order to make sure you’re making the right hire, you need to get to know these people. Find out what inspires them. Where their long-term interests lie. What they enjoy doing in their free time (remember, culture fit is as big as skill fit). Learn all this and more by investing a few hours a month attending these networking-type events.
* Start a dream employee list. Agencies have dream client lists–why wouldn’t they have dream employee lists (and the same thing applies on the brand side)? Think about it. If you want to be the best–you need to employ the best. And, chances are they don’t *all* currently work for your team. So, start a dream list. Why is this important? Because it stretches your thinking. So often, we stop at “well, we’d love to have (insert individual here) but he’s happy over at (insert agency/business here.” Instead, think about how you might stay in contact with that person so when the opportunity presents itself, you can offer your help. Remember, life happens people. Marriages. Kids. Family illnesses. Spouses change jobs. All can lead a rock star to think differently about his/her current employer–even if they love what they do. Larger point: Start by thinking about your dream team and figure out creative ways to bring them on board (without being devious and out-and-out recruiting your competition; I’m not condoning that here).
* Get to know the next generation. Often, one of the bigger needs on the agency and corporate sides is at the junior level. After all, the higher you go in any organization, the fewer jobs there are available. So, start cultivating these relationships by getting to know the kids who are still in school. More importantly, get to know the professors (or, if you have the time and wherewithal, BE the professor). The professors know the rock stars. Add these stars to your dream list. Track their progress. And keep them on your radar until the time is right.
* Make your own game. Don’t like the strategies above? Fine. Make your own game then. Kinda what we did with HAPPO last year. Sure, our main motivation was to help PR pros across the country in a number of ways (finding jobs being the main MO). But, I also gave thought to what HAPPO might mean to my business. As an organizer, I would be able to get an insider glimpse into who was looking for work. Important as I need to identify and find a certain kind of sub-contractor that can work within my business–they’re not easy to find (got lucky with Scott Hale–true diamond in the rough). Making your own game is one of the big lessons I learned from Keith Ferrazzi a while back–and you can make it work for your agency/firm, too.