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Where is the advertising industry looking for fresh talent?

24-July-2006
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Where is the advertising industry looking for fresh talent?

There have been enough talks on the dearth of talent that the advertising agencies are facing today. Taking the premise that it is difficult to get the desired workforce that agencies would want on their board, there has to be an alternative hunting ground to recruit people. Crunch or no crunch, recruitment is an ongoing process that agencies can’t duck.

Ashutosh Khanna, Chief Operating Officer, Grey Worldwide, considers this as a pressing issue because agencies today can’t match the fat pay cheques that MNCs offer to ace B-School graduates. Unable to give competitive and comparable salaries, what options do agencies have?

Khanna informs, “We have stopped going to management schools and have started exploring other alternatives. We have started going to the IITs and other premier institutes in a big way. In fact, this year, we went to St Stephens college (in New Delhi) and we got very encouraging results. Enthused by the response, next year we are planning to go to more colleges such as Xavier’s and Presidency in Kolkata.

Rohit Ohri, Senior V-P, JWT, gives his take on this. “True, the best of talent is no longer being lured by advertising. We have moved on to hiring from MICA and non-IIMs,” he says.

Santosh Desai, President, McCann-Erickson, India, who himself is a postgraduate from IIM Ahmedabad, is clearly disappointed by the churn-out that happens at the entry level. McCann has now started looking for talent across communication schools and second rung management schools, which Desai calls “a decent lot”.

He also feels that at the entry level people are not too sure if they want to remain in advertising hence, they too are experimenting. For him the quality of talent is only determined if a person stays in the industry for at least two years and gains some kind of experience in the industry. While hiring, Desai looks at two essential qualities – overall curiosity for their surrounding and an instinct to understand.

According to Amar Wadhwa, VP, Strategic Planning, Publicis India, “All of us today are experimenting with different models and trying to come up with right answers to tackle this issue. Some 12 years back, all the top level people came from premier MBA institutes, then there was a phase where graduates from Symbiosis, Narsee Monjee and IIMC were joining in droves.”

He adds, “Today, the scenario is such that MICA, which gave some of the best advertising professionals, is even shying away from the industry. Now we have to look at direct recruits from colleges and mass communication institutes.”

McCann’s Desai, however, is categorical that the agency is not keen to recruit students who are fresh out of college. His reasoning being that in today’s day and age a college degree offers a short-lived career opportunity, with people themselves wanting to pursue higher studies quit their jobs after a short stint.

There is also the issue of lack of structured HR policies that prevent many talented people from joining advertising agencies. The agencies need to package themselves attractively as there is a sea change from how advertising was ‘the’ thing to go for while looking for an unconventional profession. Today, with options galore in media, films, the Internet and other related fields, there is no dearth of lucrative openings for such aspirants.

A possible solution to this situation could be of an industry level initiative to come up with an academy for advertising professionals more on the lines of MICA (Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad). Though this is easier said than done as we are talking about the same industry that is busy fighting over awards without reaching any consensus and finds it difficult to come together even for a cup of tea!

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