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Agencies have reduced their on-campus recruiting presence, starting pay levels are not as competitive as other professional services firms, such as management consultants and agencies are viewed by many candidates as “sweat shops” with low pay, long hours and little loyalty.Sadly, once a young graduate joins an agency, some of these perceptions too often mirror reality.

In light of the 4A’s annual talent survey findings, which found that “most entry-level salaries” for agency personnel “were between ,000 – ,000,” most agency insiders understand the challenges in attracting and retaining top tier talent.The question, which has not been addressed is; “Why aren’t agencies paying more to secure top college graduates?” If a capable young person armed with a college degree can earn a starting salary of ,000 by going to work for Accenture, Mc Kinsey, Booz & Company, Adobe, Google or Microsoft then it stands to reason that advertising agencies must close the salary gap if they hope to attract their fair share of talent.This will require ad agencies to begin with rethinking entry level pay, which pales in comparison to what a college graduate can earn by going to work for another professional services or technology development firm.There is no sense in ratcheting up the on-campus recruitment effort, if an organization is not willing to back that up with a competitive compensation program. Sir Martin Sorrell called it right in 2011 when he called the agency talent situation “criminal.” In the past, agencies were able to leverage the industry’s reputation as an energetic, forward thinking, collaborative, fun sector and the agencies themselves were thought to have engaging cultures that helped candidates look beyond compensation.

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