How important is it to research if an agency is right for you before signing the dotted line…
Job searching can be brutal, the job applications with no response, the time spent going into the agency for interviews and the “we wish you all the best in your future endeavours” generic emails are enough to make anyone lose a little sight of what their original career objectives were.
When you do finally get that call back, get that second interview and finally get the offer you may be so relieved to be coveted by an agency you may overlook some of the warning signs you picked up during the hiring process. Although it is an exciting time and a fresh start, it is crucial you slow down and turn down that overly enthusiastic voice in your head saying omg this is the beginning of the rest of my life - I need to go shopping for chic office wear! Take it back to the reasons you left your last role and what you promised yourself you would never commit to again…
Things to consider (and shouldn’t be afraid to investigate):
Most agencies will claim to have a supportive, collaborative, friendly and social culture. Office politics, generational gaps and overworked staff can have a detrimental effect on culture and your well-being, so make sure you do your own investigating. I would recommend reaching out to your network (or just hit them up on LinkedIn), past employees who have recently left the agency and perhaps gently and respectfully (of course) ask how they found the overall culture of the agency.
This is also something you can do some snooping into through the interview stages. If the interviewee asks to go to a café to meet, don’t be afraid to ask to see the office at the end and have a walk around the agency. Never be scared to push for a second or third interview just to get a bit more physical time in the office. Try to take note of how the employees interact with each other and their overall energy whilst at work.
If all else fails – just ask! Company culture is incredibly important and most talent directors or hiring managers will be transparent, remember they want to hire like-minded individuals too.
Look, you may be happy being at your desk 14 hours a day, but just in case you’re not….
Culture check list questions:
- What are some of the recent social activities the team has enjoyed?
- Is there a social committee?
- What are the typical hours of work?
- What are the incentives for the team when we reach and exceed targets?
- How long have most employees been here?
- What are the ages within the agency, is it a fairly young team, if that’s what you’re looking for?
This is another aspect of your new role that you will quickly resent yourself for accepting if there is no path to progression both personally and professionally in the agency.
Typically, in agencies there is always somewhere to go, however, it depends on how quickly you were hoping to get there. A quick map of the agency structure and recent hires/promotions will give insights into if you are likely to receive a quick promotion based on your skills and experience, or if there will be a few road blocks given the current structure and recent hires/promotions internally.
If your prerogative is to be promoted within a certain period of time, firstly consult an unbiased third party to ensure your career objectives are realistic, then be honest with the agency and see what they are able to offer in terms of KPI’s and a structured career progression plan.
This is a big one, you will be spending 40 hours (most likely more) negotiating, representing, communicating, educating, collaborating and at times getting a bit frustrated with these guys. Firstly, do you believe in their product? If you have an ethical issue with your client’s product or service, you may want to rethink joining forces with them.
What kind of client do you want to work with? Some people relish working with a difficult client who constantly challenges and pushes you forward. It can be stressful at times but you will be pushed to be the best you can be at what you do and most of the time pleasantly surprise yourself when you come out the other side of a particularly challenging brief.
Type of work:
What are the specific channels you will be operating across and do they include a combination of skills you already excel in as well as areas you hope to develop into?
If the work isn’t going to challenge or inspire you at some point, you may want to rethink either the level of the role or perhaps the style of agency overall. For instance, if you left a BTL agency because you are totally over POS production and this new agency is also BTL make sure you ask what the typical style of campaign they do is – perhaps you can be exposed to more experiential and events?
Last of all always go with your instincts, take some quite timeout, let the adrenaline of the opportunity subside, and ask yourself what the pros and cons of the role are.
Only you know what’s best for you!
Good luck in your future endeavours. If you need more advice on how to land your dream role, get in touch with me anytime firstname.lastname@example.org