Although recruiting talent is a primary responsibility of the agency CEO, prospecting for the next great hire should be top of mind for every team member. Whether you are acquiring young professionals through the draft or enhancing your mid-and upper-level.
With free agents, the two best sources for prospects are inbound candidates—those who complete an online form or submit unsolicited resumes—and social candidates—students and professionals who separate themselves through their use of social media. Let’s examine nine steps agencies can take to build strong pipelines of both inbound and social candidates
Most importantly, include a yes/no field for “it” factor. If you are not sure, the answer is no. Not all A players have the “it” factor, but you will know it when they do. It is usually obvious within the first minute of the interview.
When Is It Time to Hire?
Agencies are most productive and efficient when functioning near capacity. The heavy, yet manageable, workloads keep professionals focused and in rhythm. Hiring too early and overstaffing in small and early-stage growth agencies are dangerous propositions that can lead to cash-flow crunches and productivity losses. If there is not enough revenue-generating work to go around, it is only human nature to relax and not push as hard.
Temporary lulls can be beneficial to recharge professionals, but challenges arise and bad habits form when they start to extend beyond a few days. There is no perfect formula to tell you when it is time to hire, but, with the right system, agencies have far greater intelligence to make educated decisions. Let’s examine the key elements of a reliable system.
So we know the agency has the capability to deliver just less than 500 hours in a month at a 100 percent productivity rate. In theory, the team is performing at its peak, and the agency is very profitable at this threshold. However, this is what I consider a soft capacity, meaning that there is room to flex above if needed to meet short-term demands for major projects and campaign fluctuations.
These one-time spikes can create false hiring signals, so it is recommended to take a quarterly approach to forecasts when nearing soft capacity. Exceeding soft capacity for one or two months is not the right trigger point to hire. Although there are exceptions, you should be able to predict sustained growth for at least three months before you commit to a new hire.
It is important when forecasting and determining when to hire to leave room for a 20 percent spike above the soft capacity, or what I call the absolute capacity. In other words, if soft capacity is 490, and next month’s forecasts call for 540 client hours (approximately 10 percent above soft capacity), you should be able to deliver up to standards with the current staff. You will notice in the example agency that the CEO, vice president, and senior account executive all have some room to pitch in during heavy months if they temporarily shift priorities.
However, if forecasts exceed 588, or 20 percent above, then you are in the danger zone. Your team will be spread too thin, deadlines will be missed, and quality will suffer if you do not take action. This means either making an immediate hire, outsourcing to a trusted partner in the ecosystem, or, as a last resort, delaying project deliverables.