Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Twenty Recruiter Pet Peeves

1)   Candidates who don't return calls or emails

2)   Clients who don't return calls or emails

3)   Clients who give job specs with a certain range in salary and then offer less money than is in the  spec

4)   Candidates who exaggerate their salary

5)   Candidates who want an offer only to negotiate a raise where they are

6)   Candidates who move for money rather than an opportunity

7)  Clients who give us specs but then reject a candidate for a reason not in the specs

8)   Candidates who are not honest with us about their current situation

9)   Clients who fail to tell us an account is in trouble or who omit other pertinent information when giving us an assignment

10)  Candidates who are so desperate that they deal with ten or more recruiters

11)  Clients who are so desperate that they deal with ten or more recruiters

12)  Clients who look at recruiters as suppliers and not partners

13)  Clients who do not give enough information for us to find appropriate candidate

14)  Clients who promise things to people while they are interviewing and fail to live up to their end of the bargain          

15)  Candidates who don't tell us they are also interviewing elsewhere or who are even entertaining another offer     

16)  Clients who won't let recruiters talk to hiring managers

17)  Candidates who resign before receiving an offer letter

18)  Clients who give us assignments before receiving authorization to hire

19)  Clients who give us an assignment and then promote someone internally after we have spent time working on their search - and then don't even apologize
20)  Candidates who don't understand that the best time to meet a recruiter is when they are not looking for a new job

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What's With These Ad Agency Names?

I was delighted with the news that JWT was going back to J. Walter Thompson. It is their name – earned over 150 years.  I was equally pleased when I heard that Draft/FCB was going back to just plain FCB; I wrote about this several months ago.  

These changes got me thinking.

I am a big proponent of agencies being called by their principals’ names.  After all, clients like knowing that the people whose names are on the door are going to be involved in their business.  There are few, if any, really well known agency leaders any more – partially because their names are no longer on the door. I have had candidates ask me about the senior executives at many of the new agencies.  They just aren’t well known.

Once upon a time, when one got to the top of the profession, their name went on the door.  Today not so much. 

This is probably a generational thing.  The new company names are young, hip, modern. The world may be changing and names along with it.  Many of the “new” ad agencies are smart and successful and I am sure they deserve their success. Some do superb work.  But, I think that if I were a client, I would prefer to entrust my business to someplace where the boss’s name is on the door.
Its only a guess, but one reason many of the new (some are 20+ years old) agencies don’t have the principal’s names on the door is because they are trying to be more democratic.  Not having a personal name on the door makes it easier if a partner leaves, which happens with some frequency; corporate names don’t have to be changed in that case. But having a name like Mother or Taxi or Strawberry Frog or Big Duck (you get the point) does not lessen employee turnover. Nor do these contemporary names mean that the work is better or fresher.  It isn’t the name that counts, it is always the work. 

Agencies which don’t use their principal’s names on the door are at a big disadvantage because advertisers and others in the advertising business just don’t know who their executives are.

When you talk to these agencies and go on their websites, there is often a clever explanation (sometimes not) as to the meaning of their name.  But I miss the names of their leaders on the marquee.  The advertising business needs a new generation of leaders.  Unfortunately, the business has few leaders of stature. I believe that some of these leaders are known in the creative community, but not so much within the larger business.  Unfortunately, their company names make and keep them invisible.

We need new icons in the business.  I understand that by not putting their names on the masthead, the theory is that the whole agency gets credit.  But it isn’t the whole agency that presents at a sales meeting or to a corporate board. It is a strong and powerful individual.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Good Riddance To Publicis/Omnicom: Five Reasons From A Recruiter

I wrote last July, when this merger was announced that I thought it was a bad idea.  I am writing now to say that I am happy that it fell apart.  Months ago, I told a friend that I couldn’t believe that this awful merger would come to pass.  I don’t know a lot about the French side of Publicis, but I couldn’t believe that Omnicom would give up financial control.  In my opinion Omnicom is the best run of the major holding companies, partially due to their financial controls and policies.

Be that as it may, good riddance.

Here are five reasons why:

    1) Creativity would suffer.
During the heyday of creativity, in the sixties, the really good creative agencies figured out how to limit their own bureaucracy.  The star system was born.  Since the advent of the holding companies, there are no stars.  Adding a humongous bureaucracy on top of the one that already exists, could not have been good for the business.

2    2)  This merger may have been in restraint of trade
Anything which limits competition is, in my opinion, restraint of trade. The P/O merger surely would have limited competition.  The holding companies have too much power.

3    3) This monumental merger would have hurt career advancement.
As a recruiter, we are often given assignments which agencies are unable to fill themselves – even with their minions of in-house contract recruiters.  The problem is that we and they are precluded from introducing a person who works at any one of the holding company’s agencies to another within the network.  I wrote about this some time ago.  And even though, for instance, Publicis, has a procedure with which its people can apply on line to move from, say, Saatchi & Saatchi to Digitas, it is an underutilized mechanism.  The reason for this is fear of being found out and being fired by an angry company or boss.

Add to this that recruiters are precluded from sending someone who is working on an account to any other agency which handles some part of that account.  A person working on P&G at Saatchi cannot move to the Citibank account at Publicis because Publicis is a Procter agency.  (People can move if they get specific permission from their boss and from Human Resources, but that rarely happens. And recruiters cannot do it at all, with or without permission.)

       4) Publicis and Omnicom are run quite differently
Each of these networks is well run.  Their methods and systems are right for their own cultures and have evolved over many years.  One of the reasons the merger fell apart is because they couldn’t agree on who would be running the combined entity.  Neither system would have been right for the other.  The French conduct business very differently than we do – that is not a put-down; it is just a fact.

5   5) Ultimately the merger would have caused more consolidation
Inevitably, just as the corporate back offices would be scaled back, there would be consolidation among their agencies and companies.  Each network already has too many redundant companies.

Too many of their companies have the same offerings, the same tools and the same process (called by different names, but to the same end); this is especially true in media. But consolidation would not be limited to just media agencies. Publicis rolled Kaplan Thaler into Publics and LBi into Mr.Youth (now MRY).  There would have been more of this. And to what purpose?  Efficiencies don’t justify the limiting of creativity.

In my opinion, this was merely a merger of egos.  Every one of the senior executives involved loved the idea of becoming the number one holding company.  It may have mattered to the principals involved, but the rest of the business could care less.

Good riddance.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Why Some Companies Make It Difficult For Themselves To Find Good People

I spoke a couple of weeks ago in Cincinnati. One of the questions which was asked at the end of my presentation was why it is so hard to find qualified candidates.  It is a problem in every market and location. 

I would like to share with you three recent situations where the companies made it almost impossible for me to find good people.  And I hope it helps partially answer this question.

Sometimes hiring managers are just too fussy and completely limit the ability of professionals to find an appropriate candidate for their open job.  Often job specs they create are really nothing more than generic descriptions of a job, but have nothing to do with who they want to hire or what problems they want solved. Bad job specs send everyone on a wild goose chase. And, very often, the salary budget is not aligned with the experience needed to do the job.

I recently had a senior manager call me to ask why I was having trouble recruiting for a fairly senior job which had been open for what he considered a too long a period of time. (It was only two months.)  During our conversation I asked who the client company was and what the brands were that this person would work on (I had previously asked this of the HR Manager, who told me it was confidential).  He also refused to tell me, saying the information was confidential (Effective recruiters know how to handle confidential information). This was not a New York City agency, so finding someone to work in this suburban location is difficult to begin with. However, the double whammy came when he described the combination of experiences that were absolutely mandatory for appropriate candidates to have.  Add to this that I know this is an agency where they insist on hiring people with category experience.  How can I possibly find anyone to work there – except for pure dumb luck – if I don’t know where or how to look for them?  I know that this manager is angry with his human resources people and their recruiters for not being able to move faster.  But he has completely ham-strung us.

To take it a step further, I asked this gentleman to explain the account issues to me and to tell me the skills he was looking for. Aside from telling me that there were no issues (give me a break), he asked me why my knowing this would be relevant.  When I told him that I wanted to understand the criteria he was using to evaluate candidates so I could help him screen for the ability to do the job; he again told me it was not for me to know. 

This is a more common attitude than I can tell you.

In another instance, I was working on a wonderful senior job.  The assignment came with a three page job description which listed all the duties and responsibilities.  I sent someone who I thought would be great and was informed that he was not a good match.  He had never had experience working on a major “icon” account (Coca-Cola, IBM, Apple or the like).  I went back and reread the job specs and description and, of course, this was nowhere in the three pages. In my Ad Age column, I wrote one with the title, “Want Better Candidates? Write Better Job Specs.” If a candidate is rejected for a reason that is not listed in the job specs, the specs need to be revised, since they are the guidelines used to identify and screen candidates. Most job descriptions are simply that – descriptions; they fail to deal with the job issues.

When it comes to paying an appropriate salary, my mother had an expression which she used when I took too much food on my plate and couldn’t finish. She said, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”.  This is often the case with hiring people; companies want more than they are willing to pay.  All too often the finance department dictates the salary level based on the title. But the salary doesn’t take into account that there is 65% travel, a fourteen hour work day and a six day work week, all accompanied by a miserable client.  If a company wants to hire someone under these circumstances, it is good business and smart to pay more than the normal rate.  Years ago, when Messner, Vetere, Berger, et al was in business (today it is HAVAS) they had the MCI account, which may have been the busiest account anywhere, ever.  They always paid a significant premium for good people because of the insanity on the business.  As a result, they were able to attract good people quickly.

The three examples I gave are simply the tip of the iceberg.  Companies are often their own worst enemy when it comes to finding and hiring the people they want and need.
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