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Here’s how creative agencies can support new talent

Laura Burgess, The Armstrong Partnership

The world of work has changed, and it can be a daunting place for those entering the creative industry.

Employers need to understand the myriad ways they can support entry-level talent, and give them a reason to work with them, says Laura Burgess, Commercial Director at full-service B2B marketing agency The Armstrong Partnership.


Starting out in your career is a daunting moment for anyone – agonising over first impressions, deliberating over your work, and wondering when the right time might be to crack your first joke. We’ve all been there.

Add to that the challenges of working remotely when you’re trying to build relationships with new colleagues – or the fact that those graduating or completing apprenticeships will have spent most of their time studying remotely from their bedroom or sharing a kitchen table – the last 18 months has undoubtedly taken its toll.

As we look around at the next generation of talent, we need to understand the ways in which we can support those entering the world of work and starting out on their own path within the creative industry.

Now that we can be, we must realise the opportunity of being physically together – the coffee break that turns into the next brilliant campaign idea, or seeing first-hand how a designer interprets a brief. It’s time to harness the pent-up creative energy we’ve been harbouring and invest it into developing and supporting future talent.

Communicate your cultural values

Research by Deloitte has found that Gen Z no longer form opinions of a company solely based on the quality of their products and services, but now on their ethics, practices, and social impact.

This means that while you might still attract initial interest from new talent with an impressive show reel and client roster, if you want to keep hold of them you need to be able to show them what you’re all about, and communicate why it matters to you.

It’s about transparency and authenticity – showing new employees how they’ll fit within your agency’s structure and your company’s values clearly, so they can see how they align with their own, and if it’s a good fit for both sides.

Another area to consider is what your company gives back – whether it’s building links to the local community, reducing your environmental impact, or working closely with charitable organisations. It’s an increasingly important factor for people when looking at potential employers, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

“One of the most important things to consider when hiring young talent is to ensure they’re properly mentored.”

Create a clear path for progression

Those starting out in their creative careers today may not have had the opportunity for work experience, and so they need help to understand how they can progress within an agency structure.

According to research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Marketing in August 2021, over a third (36%) of students have lost confidence in their ability.

Agencies need to develop a personalised path for progression for each new team member, including opportunities for them to learn directly from seniors – particularly if you have multiple creative disciplines – to help them to gain more of the practical experience they’ve missed out on and build their confidence. It will also give them a greater understanding and appreciation for how the business operates across all departments.

One of the most important things for an agency to consider when hiring young talent, is to ensure they’re properly mentored and managed by established individuals within your organisation. We’re talking about proper champions – people you trust to onboard and support new team members, that represent your culture through and through.

Without proper mentoring, someone can have a very different experience at the beginning of their career.

While the future remains uncertain in some ways, we should embrace the opportunity to think about what we want our agencies to look like, and the work we want to create. This should be a two-way conversation, and agencies need to engage new team members when determining objectives, and set goals that resonate with their personal drivers to develop a meaningful long-term plan.

Rewards and incentives are good short-term motivators, but setting out a clear path from the beginning will allow new employees to clearly understand what needs to be done to succeed and how to get there.

This can also link to other skills and training that can enrich your agency in many ways, for example developing an employee committee or offering training courses that will enhance creative thinking and encourage diverse ways of approaching new client briefs.

Creating a working environment that offers access to these resources and tangible opportunities to grow and progress will motivate your whole team – not just your newest recruits – to achieve their full potential.

Prioritise wellbeing

If we’ve learned anything over the last 18 months, it should be the importance of prioritising our health and wellbeing. Everyone’s experience has been different, and we must be acutely aware of those for whom navigating the workplace is new territory.

Those starting out in their careers need extra support and clear guidance on how they can ask for help when they need it from the right mentors. This support can come in many ways, from providing fitness and mental health services as part of an employment package, to offering opportunities for teams to get together to wind down at the end of a day or making time for team building and social events.

One thing’s for certain: For all the time that we have spent apart, there’s no greater feeling than coming together again to collaborate and produce brilliant creative work.

Supporting young talent and harnessing their ideas is a hugely important part of an agency’s creative cultural mix.

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