2016 Symposium Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

Brands are struggling to entice recent college graduates to seek careers in advertising. According to the Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF), this is due to a lack of communication between marketers, professors, and students. The ANA and AEF’s new research initiative, “Bridging the Marketing Talent Disconnect,” seeks to not only identify the causes of the talent problem but to offer proactive solutions. For instance, young people today are more interested in having a positive impact on the world than in climbing the corporate ladder, so brands need to reframe the conversations they’re having with students. At the AEF Symposium event held during the ANA’s Masters of Marketing Conference, Chris McCann, president of McCann North America, offered three tips for recruiting top talent into advertising jobs.

Tip No. 1 for Recruiting Talent: CMOs need to be Chief Talent Officers.

Creative, versatile skill sets are critical to the survival of the advertising industry, but senior managers have lost sight of their responsibility to bring in top talent. The business of advertising is changing rapidly, and advertisers are updating the ways they work to reflect this. However, they’re not updating the ways they approach recruiting and don’t go after top talent with the same determination they use to develop strategies and campaigns.

Tip No. 2 for Recruiting Talent: Brands need to manage the talent conversation.

College graduates don’t accept what people tell them without doing their research, so, instead of talking at potential candidates, brands have to find ways of talking with them. Eighty-four percent of young people believe brands can have more of a positive effect on the world than the government and that they need to take their role in changing the world seriously. Millennials also insist on working for companies that are aligned with their core values. Brands can connect with them by creating content on topics that are of interest to them that also fall under their own editorial authority.

Some brands are successfully reframing the recruiting conversation. When McCann was helping a brand client hire entry-level employees, it used a “no-resume” policy. Instead of sending in their resumes, which in the U.K include photos and dates of birth, applicants answered four strategic and four creative questions. This approach communicated that the brand wasn’t looking for people who went to specific schools but for creative problem solvers.

Tip No. 3 for Recruiting Talent: Brands have to market marketing and advertise advertising.

Marketers have forgotten that they have to entice the next generation to pursue advertising careers. Young people want to feel what they do is important to the broader economy and the world. Brands have to prove their contributions with actions, not words. The last really exciting development was TV, but now things change constantly, and marketers are not telling that story well. This is the biggest and most challenging disconnect.

2016 Symposium

"Honestly, the speaker made a career in advertising sound so attractive that I am considering changing my major."
— Student at University of Tulsa after AEF sent Speaker from Insight Creative Group