Hiring for FT Creative & Marketing Roles: Tips for SMBs

HR and Talent Acquisition teams at small organizations know that their time is stretched thin – there’s a lot to do and only a handful of people to do it. That’s why when it’s time to hire a permanent employee in the creative and marketing space, it can be a real challenge. Unlike larger companies, SMBs may infrequently recruit for this kind of position. Maybe the company has brought on a new client or there’s a new product to market. Specific skills are needed and the person must fit a tight knit team. A contract worker won’t do; it must be a permanent employee who understands the need and will be committed to the organization’s mission.

Why hire a full-time permanent employee as opposed to a contractor? It’s a good question. Many companies are using independent contractors to fill in needs that are short-term. You can certainly find talent to fill in these gaps but if you have a long-term need, a direct hire is going to be your best and most cost-effective choice. The difference is that you have an employee who is more engaged, connected and committed. They want the opportunity to contribute from the inside, expand within the company and do a specific job with a good team. 

It does mean, however, that more attention must be paid to the hiring process. A bad hire is expensive, up to 30% of the annual salary, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And if the person doesn’t work out, it’s back to the drawing board in a couple of months.

The good news is that marketers and creatives enjoy working for SMB organizations rather than larger organizations. There is usually more creative freedom and flexibility, and opportunity to learn new skills and contribute their ideas. In this way, SMBs can foster a competitive advantage over their large counterparts.

How to Choose a Recruiting Partner

Because creative and marketing is such a specialized field, it can be time-consuming and frustrating for small Talent Acquisition and HR departments to effectively recruit for these positions. The hiring manager knows exactly what they want (often someone who can do everything!) and the position is critical to the success of the department and business – and it needs to be filled ASAP, of course.

In these situations, it’s helpful to reach out to an external recruiting agency that specializes in creative and marketing. Here’s what you should be looking for when choosing this recruiting partner.

Industry expertise. A staffing firm that focuses solely in the creative marketing and digital space understands what your hiring manager is looking for. They speak the language, understand the pain points and can visualize – literally – what is needed. What looks like a nice portfolio to most people may not be the right one for the position. A recruiter with deep industry experience can tell the difference. They understand exactly the type of skillset or talent that’s needed.

Brand ambassador. Big companies have much more brand exposure than SMBs so the number of people applying to their open positions is much greater. This lack of brand knowledge is a weakness for SMBs. You may have a growing, innovative company with a special corporate culture but job seekers won’t necessarily know this. However, an external recruiter gets to know you and what you have to offer, then advocates for your brand with potential candidates. They can speak to what is unique about your company like your culture, the work environment, the opportunities, your DEI and ESG initiatives, etc. And they can find candidates who are the right fit for you.

A wider, deeper net. A SMB posting on LinkedIn might get a hundred unqualified candidates or only 10 applicants because job seekers are unfamiliar with their company. When you're working with a creative and marketing staffing agency, you triple the amount of qualified candidates because when you post the job, they already have a database of qualified people to contact, in addition to their networks on LinkedIn and other sites. They are also constantly sourcing potential candidates.

Saving time and effort. External recruiters are doing the heavy lifting for you – weeding through resumes, verifying backgrounds, skillsets and experience, and making sure that the candidates are qualified. This frees up your time and reduces the frustration of your staff and the hiring manager. The staffing agency presents you with best-fit candidates so that time spent on interviewing and hiring is efficient and, in the end, successful.

Reaching passive job candidates. If someone is currently employed, they may not be looking at your job posting. A staffing agency is continuously reaching out to individuals to see if they're interested in potentially making a move or looking for a new opportunity. This passive job seeker may not realize that there is a better position open, with a better company, benefits or salary. Again, the external recruiter is always building these relationships so that when the need arises, they can contact the qualified people.

Even if you choose to recruit internally for creative and marketing positions, it’s valuable to have an established relationship with a specialized staffing agency in case you hit a wall. Choosing the right recruiting partner before you need them will save you time. Some SMBs reach out to a staffing agency after they’ve exhausted all their options, and some work concurrently with the agency. Whichever you choose, be sure to use a recruiting firm that focuses only on the creative and marketing space, not generalized recruiting. They know the talent you need and understand the business. Smaller companies have much to offer potential employees. Working with an external recruiter is a way to amplify those advantages.  

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Written by
Alexandra Whitmore
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