Farewell 2016... and open your mind in 2017!

29th December 2016

2016? That was soooo last year. 2017 is where it’s at… Well at least in Asia. MCG have found the market to be buoyant, no, correction – exhilarating, to say the least over the last quarter in 2016 and everything is pointing towards a busy, if somewhat uncertain 2017. With all of the unexpected news this year from shock political news; Brexit and Donald Trump and from the sad passing of the likes of Muhammed Ali and George Michael, 2016 proved that nothing is predictable and as such 2017 looks to follow on from this trend.

What can you do to be at the forefront of next year’s evolution, if not quite revolution? My advice to clients and candidates alike is ‘be open’. Embrace the unusual. Meet that candidate that isn’t 100% on brief. Go and have a coffee with a client that you have heard is a ‘pain in the ass’ and make your own judgement. At the end of the day; what have you got to lose?

I started to see a shift in recruitment a few years back in London from agencies having a very narrow search focus (often giving all but impossible briefs desperately searching for that needle in a haystack) and candidates who dismissed interviews at incredible agencies for bizarre reasons (‘my friend worked there in the past and didn’t like the Creative Director’) who started to open their minds, and with this opened the search criteria to allow ‘the best of the best’ through their doors. The only criteria being is you are not GREAT; don’t bother… At certain levels and within certain agencies I would go as far to say it’s not rocket science. If you can manage a strategic rebrand of a global airline and deliver a multimillion dollar project on brief and on time then I’m pretty sure that you can manage a large multi-region roll out of a BTL campaign in a similar space for an integrated agency. Right? Well, up until a few years back – wrong! Clients now have started to see the errors of their ways and with this have been able to hire some of the best talent available and in turn offer up a different view point to a project or a brief that would have otherwise been awash with the same old tried and tested results that served them well (but didn’t win awards or recognition) over the past 10 years. Candidates in turn benefited from the fact that their creative juices were being challenged and they could now push their own abilities in areas that they would not have had the chance to work on had they not been given a chance. Now, let’s face it it’s not all rosy and for every stunning hire there is equally a story of how a client took a risk and paid the price by making a poor hire but with a thorough interview and selection process this should rarely happen.

After a solid 4 months now in Asia I have started to influence clients in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore to do just this. Open their minds to people that are, to coin an overly common phrase ‘out of the box’. Candidates too who were desperately unhappy in their current role but would be worried to meet an agency as they had ‘heard they do long hours’ have started to be open to the fact that perhaps not everything they hear is true and the best course of action is to go and meet someone and ask the questions themselves rather than rely on hearsay. I have always maintained a mantra of ‘honesty is the best policy’ and stand by this with the advice and direction I give clients and candidates. It has helped many people, upset a few along the way but in turn has generally allowed agencies to hire the best people they can and candidates to find the best job they are able to do.

We are seeing a trend here in APAC for clients looking for multitalented candidates. Ones that can one day be a ‘specialist’ but in the next breath have a backup skill or area that they can lend their hand to should the need arise. In turn candidates are looking for more than one client or project to work on so diversity is key, be that through the type of work or discipline in which they will operate in.

So; advice to clients in 2017? Be open… Trust me when I say that this candidate is worth 30 minutes of your time. If you are serious about wanting to hire then there is a reason why any decent recruiter worth his salt is offering up a solution that perhaps you haven’t thought about or had dismissed previously. Statistically clients spend around 5% of their working week on recruitment. Us recruiters spend 100% of our time on recruitment; it makes the best recruiters in the market know what they are talking about. We know your business’ perceptions and what talent you can realistically expect to tempt or how far you can push . So; next time a trusted recruiter says to you ‘I think you should meet X’ go on. Meet them. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

And candidates? Well, if you are wanting to further your career and develop your skills have a clear wish list. I’d say 5 or so points that you want to tick off; if you can get 4 of these ticked then you are onto a winner. Be open to agencies that you would have dismissed last year or locations that you feel are just that bit too far out. If you think you have what it takes, then shout about it! Make yourself heard and seen to be the best of the best.

If we can marry these two ways of thinking from both clients and candidates then surely 2017 is the year for some epic hires. Hires that agencies wouldn’t have thought possible in 2016. Candidates finding roles that up until 2017 they never thought they would get a chance to work on. So come on people. In the late, great George Michael’s words; ‘you gotta have faith’!

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