How To Hire Creative Talent, Fast

By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms.

After spending weeks reviewing resumes and portfolios, and interviewing candidates for an open design position at your company, the hiring committee finally decides on a top pick. But when you call to tell the prospective employee the good news, you discover she’s already accepted another job offer — and you’re back to square one or have to go with your second choice.

Challenges lurk within every step of the recruitment process, especially in today’s low unemployment climate. And organizations that don’t move quickly once they identify promising candidates risk losing them. In a recent Robert Half survey, 69 percent of workers said they lose interest in a job if they haven’t heard from an employer within two weeks after the initial interview.

This is why you need to accelerate your hiring process to land highly skilled creative professionals. Here are six tips for tightening your timeline.

Identify what you really need. Hiring full-time employees takes time, money and effort. Do you really need a new designer on staff to work 40 hours a week? When evaluating job vacancies and project needs, consider faster alternatives. For example, if you seek an art director, first look within the organization to see who you could promote. For seasonal initiatives like annual reports and holiday campaigns, bring in interim professionals or assign work to freelancers — two options that maximize talent and flexibility. Specialized staffing firms can also connect you with project-based creative pros.

1.  Expand Your Pool. Recruiting is more efficient when you have several great applicants to choose from. Besides posting an opening on job boards, spread the word via your company’s social media channels, including millennial-friendly platforms like Snapchat. At design conferences and networking events, don’t overlook passive job seekers — people who are content in their current jobs but are open to the possibility of switching if the right opportunity comes along.

2. Establish A Timeline And Stick To It. Contact all stakeholders — your boss, human resources and members of the hiring committee — and come up with a timeline that everyone commits to. Decide who is responsible for what, such as contacting short-listed candidates and signing off on the top choice. If there is a delay at any point in the process, figure out how you can expedite next steps.

3. Streamline Interviews. Speed up the first round of interviews by conducting them over Skype, FaceTime or other video software. To keep the playing field level, be consistent and ask all candidates the same interview questions. Have candidates meet with all stakeholders when coming in for in-person interviews, whether it be in short, one-on-one meetings or group interviews.

4. Keep Candidates In The Loop.  It’s discouraging to apply for a position and never hear from the employer. To keep job seekers interested in your company, as well as to make a positive impression on top talent, keep the lines of communication open throughout the recruitment process. If you use an applicant tracking system, set up a cordial automatic response to those who submit a resume. Follow up with the most promising candidates via a personal phone call or email to set up an initial meeting. After interviews, let short-listed candidates know when you expect to make a decision.

Make your move. While reference and background checks are obviously essential, they take up valuable time. Once you’ve decided on a top choice, notify the person immediately and make an offer contingent on the results of those checks. Be prepared to negotiate salary and perks on the spot.

Hiring the right people is one of the most important decisions a manager can make, and it shouldn’t be rushed. But a long, drawn-out process comes with the risk that top creative talent will get away. An accelerated schedule optimizes the chances of landing your first picks, quickly and efficiently.