Recruitment in the digital age

Recruitment in the digital age


Recruiting for digital, social media and technology based roles is hard.  Really hard.  Mainly because the majority of agencies “turning digital” are doing it all wrong.  The most common mistakes I see?

  • No digital career path – they’re not here to be your stop gap for the next 5 years
  • No thought on structure – how is this one ‘digital’ person going to integrate into your existing structure (politically)?
  • No thought for culture – digital folks and social folks come from a very, very different culture than say, PR
  • No support – one ring them to rule them? No way.  That’s why Frodo won. Support them! Financially, with teams and with direction and mentoring

Recruiters – love them or hate them, they make a huge difference to businesses everywhere.  I recently got a chance to talk to Dorota Dopierala – founder and managing director of Nuclei – who has been supporting the growth of our agencies across the region. Here’s what Dorota had to say:

In a job market where traditional marketing is considered old school and digital is the new black, candidates are chasing the biggest and brightest roles with gusto. Fortunately for us, plenty of our candidates actually know what they are talking about, they are passionate and excited about what they do. And that’s the group our clients are after.

What are candidates looking for in their careers, not just their next job

For some it’s centred on a pay rise, stability, working hours or location. For others and generally the more passionate marketers it’s about their careers.

They want employers with access to resources, tools, data, global or regional reach, so you can share the experience. They want large, exciting accounts, which are prepared to invest or have innovation budgets, allowing them to try new things, be at the forefront of marketing and allow them to make the difference. They also want an employer which is forward thinking, companies that are one step ahead of the latest industry developments.

But what I believe they really want and need is true leadership. They want to learn, progress, be challenged and be looked after.

What are companies looking for in their first ‘digital’ hires

Aside from the regular requirements, such as their technical skills and proven experience in a similar environment, companies really want to see passion and potential for growth. They want someone who loves what they do and someone who will share that love with the wider business.

If this is their first digital person on board, they need to have a broad understanding of the whole picture and be able to help others to move into digital. Excellent communication skills, patience and ability to educate others are a necessity. It would be ideal if the candidate had either experience or “respect” for traditional disciplines as it would help them to implement the changes the company would be going through after moving towards and into digital.

What are experienced digital companies looking for in their next digital hires? 

This would really depend on the level of the hire. For juniors, digitally focused companies would like to see candidates who are passionate about digital and hungry to learn from others. Not just to learn about digital but to learn the company operations or the brand.

For senior roles, companies look for proven performance in previous roles. They still need to show hunger, passion and be able to help others grow. In a senior role you will be focussing on strategy, client retention and people management, so you are already expected to have these skills.

It’s much easier to verify senior candidates’ previous experience and skills, hence it’s often the junior or entry level roles where companies experience the most difficulty bringing on a new hire.

The hard part is how do you truly test whether someone is really passionate?

What are the challenges with all this 

Companies seem to struggle to define their unique offerings and or culture. They talk about their key clients, “work-life balance” or their brand. They seem to forget that their competitors use the same arguments.

Everyone has their individual needs and you need to listen to them. There is no one unique reason why people would move. It might be that candidates don’t really share their needs or the employer doesn’t care. A lot of employers seem to think that it’s all about paying more and just using the next resource who would take your job.

On the other hand employers struggle, as they want “ideal” employees. Everyone needs to have the perfect technical background, be an outstanding speaker and client manager, be able to educate others and have ‘passion’. They don’t think about what’s really important and what they could teach or coach. Maybe they are missing the true leaders in their current management?

What are your recommendations for candidates and companies alike 

Be flexible – in a candidate short market, finding the “perfect” candidate is not always an option. The same thing should be noted for candidates, maybe your “dream job” isn’t really the best option you can have. Talk to others in similar roles, maybe pick a good recruiter and ask about their opinion and trends in the industry?

Be patient – whether it’s waiting for the right candidate or waiting for the right job, take your time as you don’t want to be in the same position 3 months down the track you are currently in, simply because you jumped at the first option.

Understand your value – employers should be able to describe how they are different from their competitor. Candidates on the other hand should be very clear on what they can bring to the company.

Prepare for the interview – it’s a two way process, which often companies forget. It’s your chance to ask all the important questions, whether you are a potential employer or employee. And be passionate, candidates want to work for companies which love what they want!


Dorota Dopierala is the founder and managing director of nuclei recruitment, a specialist digital media recruitment agency based in Sydney


Jye Smith is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy & Operations, Asia Pacific at Weber Shandwick. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, Jye a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital and social media strategist.