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Profit & Growth Tips for Digital Agencies

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5 Tips to Improve Your Digital Agency’s Hiring Strategy

Posted by Laura Hernalsteen on Apr 28, 2016


Your employees are central to the success of your agency, and in order to grow you need to be able to make informed and appropriate changes to staffing levels, hiring new team members if your workload is regularly overloading your existing team, or shrinking your core team if staffing costs outweigh revenue.

Today I’m looking at 5 tips to help you improve your agency’s hiring strategy.

1) Know When You Can Afford to Hire

In the US, the average cost of recruiting a new employee is around $4,000 – and that’s not counting ongoing salary costs. Make no mistake: taking on a new team member is expensive.

With any new hire it takes time to onboard them, including training and learning any new tools or technologies, before they can start making tangible contributions to your revenue. So as a minimum, you want to know that you have the cash to sustain the new hire and all associated overheads for at least three months.

2) Know When You Need to Hire

As well as having the cash-flow to sustain a new employee, you want to be sure that you have enough work to keep them busy in the long-term – and that you’re not just experiencing a brief busy period that will abate after a couple of weeks.

Using a resource management tool such as Scale will give you an overview of your agency’s upcoming work and deadlines. This will help you balance the workload against your current staffing capabilities and identify whether you have a long-term staffing need or if it’s just a short-term problem that would be easier and more affordable to solve by working with a freelancer.

3) Know Which Skills to Hire For

You also need a good understanding of the skills that are most in-demand in your agency, as this will shape what role you hire for.

The best way to gain this understanding is to inventory your agency’s existing skillset. For example, you can label employees in a resource management tool to display their skills, and label projects in a similar way to identify skills that will be required for that project. This means you can match employee skills to project requirements, allowing you to track trends and identify shortfalls.

Knowing what skills your agency needs will help you clearly define the position and role requirements, so you know the level of seniority you need to hire for, as well as the skills you need.

4) Avoid the Panic Hire

A good resource management tool can act as your advance warning system, providing you with a long-term view of your upcoming workload. This reduces the likelihood of you being caught out by a sudden staff shortage when several big projects all overlap.

An unexpected staff shortage puts the pressure on, when you have a staffing hole you need to fill now, and lead to a rushed recruitment process which can mean you hire a poor-fit candidate to fill an immediate need, rather than a candidate who would be a better long-term fit.

5) Have a Rolling Hiring Process

In the same way that you should always be on the lookout for new customers (making sure you’ve got plenty of prospects and leads coming in), you need to adopt a similar approach to hiring staff.

A rolling hiring process, which encourages job applicants and interested parties to get in touch with your agency year-round rather than when you have a specific vacancy, will dramatically improve your agency’s hiring strategy. It means that when a position opens up, you will have an existing list of potential hires who you know are interested in working with you, rather than having to start from scratch and hope that the right applicant finds you during your short recruitment period.

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