Hiring Based on Category Experience Alone is Bogus…Props to AdAge

AdAge features a great article today, written by another recruiter who works with ad agencies.  The general premise — agencies need to stop making hiring decisions based on category expertise.  The writer states that this mentality is short-sighted and actually could hurt in the end.

There is a paradox when hiring people with this line of thinking. For new accounts, the agency was probably hired because of the insights they developed during the pitch. The agency’s fresh thinking is what won the business in the first place. Hiring for a specific background is anathema. For established accounts, agencies should crave new thinking. Undoubtedly there will be people both above and below the new employee who will know the business; why duplicate what is already there?

I couldn’t agree more.  The only thing I want to  add  is that I think this philosophy should pertain to the client side as well. Case in point… I recently conducted a search for an online beauty site in which the client insisted that we find someone with J&J and/or Unilever experience.  We scoured the market and sent them everyone we could find.  In the end, I just stopped working on it.  The search became an impossibility.  Sure there are many good people out of work, but to find candidates with this kind of myopic expertise, I had to try and convince EMPLOYED people to consider leaving their current, stable jobs.  Not too many were willing to put themselves out there to do so.

I understand clients want feet on the street and if a salesperson already has the connections needed to make things happen fast, it’s a major bonus.  But the reality is, a good salesperson IS going to make things happen and is going to help evangelize your brand and bring in revenues.  Taking the time to invest in the best talent, vs. the person with the client base, might be a better long-term strategy.  I just wish that more hiring managers would see it this way.  Or, at least be open to the possibility.

For the full text of this article, click here.

Carpe diem…

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