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Hiring picks up pace at creative agencies as business heads back to normal

As the economy opens up and new account wins take place across the industry, there is an increased need for talent at agencies, say experts

After a year of layoffs and salary cuts due to the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, hiring is picking up in the advertising industry as business slowly returns to normalcy.

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The layoffs had led to stress and burnout among employees, who had to work twice as hard on the existing accounts because of reduced strength.

Amit Wadhwa

“Hiring is going on as per business requirements. We are continuously focusing on developing, hiring and nurturing talent,” Amit Wadhwa, Chief Executive Officer at Dentsu Creative India, said.

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“Senior-level hiring is not as frequent given the nature of the roles but at mid-level and junior level, hiring is frequent. At present, business has picked up and things are moving in the right direction. So even hiring is back to normal,” he added.

Joy Chauhan

According to Joy Chauhan, SVP and Managing Partner, Wunderman Thompson, while junior and mid-level employees are often hired, this year they are seeing many senior-level movements. Last year, not much hiring was happening as businesses and the country was adjusting to the new reality of lockdowns and remote working, he explained. However, hiring is more fast-paced this year.

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“We did hire a few replacements. But this year, the pace is much faster and at all levels. Hiring in our e-commerce department and, more importantly, in the digital department has been frequent. Hiring is happening at all levels in all departments — e-com head, business head, creative director and, of course, at mid and beginner levels,” he said.

Rahul Gupta

However, Rahul Gupta, Founder & Chief Creative Officer at IBD India, feels things have changed in terms of client budgets and spending patterns for the ad industry. While some new businesses are flourishing, older businesses are still growing at a relatively slower pace and it’s the new opportunities in the industry that one should look out for.

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“As far as our organisation is concerned, we have hired a couple of new people but it would be very premature to say everything is going to be gung-ho for the industry. We should be able to optimally work with the resources at hand and be cautious about every business decision.”

“We never retrenched even one employee in 2020 when there was a real slowdown. So we have a team of motivated employees working on different brands. However, we have recalibrated our hiring strategy for the near future because things are changing rapidly. I hope and believe there are better times ahead,” he added.

Anand Krishnan

At a time when most agencies were going for layoffs, Sunny Side Up pumped up their hiring strategy, said Anand Krishnan, Founder and Partner. “At Sunny Side Up, the pandemic year and the year after have been the years we have hired the most. Technically we moved everyone remotely in February 2020 itself even before the lockdown started. We pre-empted how things would move and head. In fact, we went after more businesses in 2020, which was the exact opposite of what everyone was doing. Before the pandemic, we were close to about 40 people, right now we are 55 and with five more people joining soon.”

“We have a decent rhythm with the way we work with regular meet-up calls. Our remote working style makes it easier for people to join from anywhere and makes it easier for us to manage newly hired employees,” he said.

Agencies on the lookout for talent with right digital skills

Pallav Jain

Due to the digital acceleration, the new challenge for agencies is to find talent with appropriate skills. Pallav Jain, Co-Chief Executive Officer at Performics India, said the digital boom brought by the Covid-19 pandemic has benefitted them. The agency witnessed healthy growth last year and has been hiring actively ever since.

Jain said they have been hiring aggressively across levels and capabilities such as performance media, performance content (SEO), media-technology, analytics and data science and commerce

“In 2021 alone, we have boarded 100+ employees so far and are looking to double this by the end of the year. Over the last one year, we witnessed significant organic growth in clients in the app-based economy, commerce and media and entertainment spaces. These sectors have constituted our major wins this year. We have expanded our horizons by foraying into the SEA markets and enhanced our business there. We will rise higher than the pre-Covid growth rate for 2021 as per our projections. So hiring has kept pace with this. Our challenge has been a lack of quality lateral talent available in the market to meet our demands and hence we relied on our graduate and management trainee programmes this year as well.”

Saswati Sinha

According to Saswati Sinha, HR Head, Cheil India, "Hiring has opened up and agencies have started to scout talent aggressively. But hiring needs are now more specialised and organisations are looking for edgy skills, whether it's analytics or e-commerce or technology. Talents reinventing themselves with futuristic skills are more in demand."

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