Hiring Amid Change: Retaining and Attracting Talent In The Wake Of The Pandemic

2021 is turning out to be a great reset for many companies. The industry is coming back in full force, and suddenly we’re in a candidate’s market. This unique set of circumstances is making it a tricky time, but also a chance to recruit great talent. Summer often moves at a slower pace. Many people take time off to recharge and plan a holiday and thus hiring is usually sluggish, with August invariably being the slowest time of year.

This year, a lot of companies are celebrating the advent of the vaccines and gunning to get back into a more typical workflow with in-person events, business travel and – yes, we dare say – a return to the office.

That said, there is a feeling of exhaustion seeping into these well-intentioned plans. People are tired, and the last year has been a collective trauma that’s left many people reevaluating their lives and careers. I talk to candidates who have a sense of relief but also a need for a break.

This exhaustion is part of the reason it may be harder to engage with prospective new talent. People are recharging and figuring out what is important to them, in both their home lives and careers, and asking questions like:

  • Do I want to commute and miss the flexibility with my family when a Zoom would be just as easy?
  • Am I willing to go to the office five days a week, or perhaps try a combination?
  • When is the right time to see my colleagues, share a lunch or take out my clients?

The ad tech landscape is a unique space that bridges technology, media and humanity, and there is always competition to find and secure these “bright lights” who can fill these rapidly evolving roles.

Successful companies are versed in building custom solutions for their clients, but the candidate’s market we’re seeing now demands that they find ways to build custom solutions for their employees as well. Most great candidates for ad tech roles can translate technology and explain it in a relatable and human way. They excel at listening and responding to meet client needs in the toughest of situations.

How to Build and Motivate a Game-Changing Team

For employers, showing your team that you care by learning what is important to them will retain your best talent and set a precedent for the future. To attract this talent, leaders must turn their ear to their team members and to the prospective candidates and ask them what they need, what they want and what makes them enabled to work productively. Is it compensation? Or flexibility? Or is it simply being appreciated for their work?

Every person is unique, and each of us has a different dream and idea about what equals success and happiness.

A salesperson probably wants to be out and about and is money motivated. An ops person may want the option to work from home and be less “client facing.” There are the product developers and marketers who may need the serendipity and collaboration of face time to come up with a game-changing strategy, then time apart to analyze and execute.

On the somewhat opposite end of the spectrum are data scientists and analysts that may prefer a “quiet place” and less team interaction.

The best leaders listen, and the strongest companies adapt and build in times of change. How we work is going to look very different in the next few years, and forward-thinking companies who listen and find flexible, custom solutions are going to find themselves with a wealth of talent and leading the charge for innovation.

This originally appeared as a guest “Data Driven Thinking” column on 8/9/21 at AdExchanger here.
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Kelly Herrick

Kelly Herrick is the founder of Searchlight, a digital recruitment firm specializing in media, advertising, and emerging technology. Originally from Texas, Kelly has made NY her home and lives with her husband, son, dog, and three cats in Westchester.