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
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,
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.