How do you recruit the right people?

 |  By: Kate Jones In: Managing resource | Growth and scalability | Trends

What do you look for when recruiting for your agency, the perfect CV with all the skills you’re looking for right now or someone with the right attitude who’ll grow and hopefully stay a long time?

Increasingly agencies are looking past the CV for their recruitment. A number of agencies in our network actually recruit based on company values, using these values to ascertain how the potential recruit feels about a team environment and their general attitude towards work.

Of course, it’s a little idealistic to ignore skill and experience altogether but it’s not only about skills and increasingly agencies, and other companies, are recruiting off more than paper. They’re offering office experience days, early-on company adventure days (you can learn a lot about someone when they’re cold, tired and halfway up a mountain) or other non-role related ‘tests’.

In this blog, we look at some non-taught traits that have been proven to make for great, long-term, employees. How you make sure your potential new recruit has these traits is up to you.


Ideally, you want employees to stay with you for a long time. The longer they’re with you the more they know about your agency, your culture, and your clients. We all know how unsettling it can be for a client when their account manager or project manager leaves. It can feel like they’ve hired a new agency. If that happens a lot, clients can get a little suspicious about what’s going on.

But as you strive to recruit long-standing team members, you don’t want them to stand still. If someone is with you for ten years, you want to make sure they’ll want to move through the ranks, for example, account executive to account director, and have the ambition to push themselves on.

Employees can only help your company if they want to help themselves. Forbes.

The other side of the coin is you need to recognize talent and the right ambitious attitude and give it an outlet and opportunity. In return, you’ll gain a loyal, home-grown super team.

Ambitious cat


Honesty is a positive trait in pretty much anything so it’s no surprise that it’s appeared on this list. But honesty in a project-based team environment is a different kind of honesty. It’s about pro-active honesty, sharing when you’ve made a mistake or forgotten something. All-too-often people try to cover up their mistakes, or worse blame others, and it adds layers of complication onto a mistake that may have already caused a significant setback. Worse still, it can involve ill-informed and perhaps contentious conversations with clients, when really the mishap is internal. Mistakes happen, but when someone is upfront about it they’re a lot easier to put right.

Able to embrace your agency’s culture

We’ve written a lot about the importance of agency culture. You may remember our blog 3 leading agency MDs share how their internal culture gives their team purpose.

Culture is very important and it’s also very fragile. If it’s forced it loses its meaning but equally, if it’s not baked into the agency then it fizzles out and becomes a wish list of attributes written on your website somewhere and nothing more.

So the best way to build and retain a culture is to recruit people who naturally hold the attributes you want your culture to embrace. Assessing how any potential recruits will fit in with your culture is key. A culture based on collaboration will need a completely different type of person to one based on ownership and independent working.

But before you can recruit on your culture, you have to be honest about what your culture is. Telling a self-confessed social butterfly that you’re a very sociable office, if you’re not will only disappoint them. Similarly, there may be some elements of your culture that you’re looking to stamp out but in the meantime, you have to be open and honest about them. And once you know your culture, you’ll need to be very committed to it, which at some point is bound to mean turning away talented people.


Emotionally intelligent

This term has been around since the early 90s but it seems to have exploded more recently, and for good reason, it’s extremely important.

Understanding your behavior and how it makes others feel, is an immeasurable skill to have in any role that involves communicating with others. Knowing how to motivate others can only increase productivity.

Take the role of project manager, they need to be direct, firm and in control but if they’ve no empathy for their team, they’re unlikely to get the best out of them or to be able to focus them on deadlines. People don’t have the same drive if they’re not understood or appreciated. If they constantly get the stick when all they really want is the carrot, the project is sure to suffer and the project manager’s job will be immeasurably harder.

The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions. -John Hancock, 1737 American Revolutionary

From the client’s point of view, they may find their projects are delivered on-time and to-budget but if they’ve hated every minute of delivery and the team weren’t very engaged, is it a success? Would you say that person is an effective project manager? This type of client/agency relationship leaves very little room for forgiveness if there are hiccups down the line.

And it’s not all about empathy, emotionally intelligent people are said to be more flexible adjusting more easily to change and they show more self-control. Crucial skills for any successful agency member.

Cat in glasses

Our partners, The Agency Works are currently running a survey about wellbeing within agency workplaces. If you have two minutes they’d love your thoughts. (survey now closed)

If you'd like to know more about Synergist, then there are a few ways you can get in touch. You can drop us a note, book yourself a 15-minute one-to-one demo or you can give our implementation partners the agency works a call on 01455 553246. We’d love to see if we can help.

The Agency Works

Our exclusive UK implementation partner

Providing on-site demonstrations, training, experience and consultation.