OPINION: LACE ON ... GRADUATE RECRUITMENT

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Those of you who spend part of your lives thinking about graduate recruitment will currently be sitting in meetings, talking about milk rounds, budgets and exactly how many graduates you think you might need in 18 months’ time. Furthermore, you’ll also be discussing just what you plan to do with the graduates who are arriving in two months’ time.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Those of you who spend part of

your lives thinking about graduate recruitment will currently be sitting

in meetings, talking about milk rounds, budgets and exactly how many

graduates you think you might need in 18 months’ time. Furthermore,

you’ll also be discussing just what you plan to do with the graduates

who are arriving in two months’ time.



One of the key dynamics in the recruitment discussions will be about

precisely when the other agencies are offering jobs to hopeful

graduates.



This dynamic leads to what I call the ’December Frenzy’ in which Agency

X will be attempting to offer someone a job at 9am because they know

that Agency Y will be making their offer at 1pm.



The madness of this lies in neither agency being secure enough in their

own profile, or their own body of work, to be confident of being the

graduate’s first choice. Mind you, that’s a separate debate.



For too long now, the advertising industry has been torturing itself

over why it is losing some of its best graduates to either the City or

management consultancy. The response of agencies has been to start

travelling round the universities presenting themselves aggressively as

recruiters of business people rather than creative people.



And by creative people, I mean those who think creatively, work

creatively and are interested in the process by which every single piece

of work is created.



I think this is exactly the wrong way to go about it. It’s time for us

to ignore those graduates who want to be management consultants or sell

their soul to the Square Mile - for two very simple reasons. First, I’ve

never met anyone who has a job in either of these disciplines whom I’d

want to employ. Second, and equally important, I’ve never been able to

persuade anyone who is about to go into one of those professions that

they should join us.



If, as so many people argue, we have to attract those graduates who

instinctively want to go into other, better paid industries, then we

might as well just pay them pounds 30,000 a year to sign up and stop

pretending that any other argument holds water.



On the other hand, there is a far simpler, and more satisfying,

solution.



In this year’s round of graduate recruitment, I’d urge everyone involved

to celebrate the strengths of our business and not apologise for the

fact that we can’t offer what other industries can.



Go out and tell graduates that ours is a business which embraces

entrepreneurialism, creativity and the individual. While you’re at it,

you might also tell them that it’s a business in which very good people

are ultimately very well rewarded.



On the other hand, try and pretend that we are more business-oriented

than a management consultancy, that we are more financially viable than

the City and that we’re happy to embrace dull people solely on the basis

that they’re intelligent, and you’ll probably get what you deserve - a

bunch of people who, 18 months into their working life with your agency,

will leave to join Arthur Andersen.





Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



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