Shops Get Social in New Talent Hunt

NEW YORK When TBWA Worldwide chief digital officer Colleen DeCourcy needed freelance creative talent for her Digital Arts group, she turned her Facebook status update into a help wanted ad that ended with an invitation to call her cell-phone number. The message generated some 400 responses and that same day, after pulling together a handful of colleagues to review work, DeCourcy filled six slots.

DeCourcy’s not alone in recruiting online. Increasingly, agencies have been using social media as a tool to find talent, particularly in the junior to mid-level ranks. Last week, for instance, GSD&M Idea City managing group cd Luke Sullivan used Twitter to broadcast a need for a “really good mid-level writer,” encouraging interested candidates to e-mail him a link to their work. Similarly, Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer in the past has tweeted about job openings. Other shops, including Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Rubicam, use Facebook to vet new talent.

Agency leaders say they’re using social networks this way because they’re fast, direct and free. Also, many leaders are seeking digitally savvy staffers and where better to do that than on Facebook or Twitter? Finally, some leaders put more trust in people they find through their own networks than, say, through outside headhunters.

“They’re all people who I know or are authenticated by people I know,” said DeCourcy, who started using social media sites for recruiting last year. By putting job postings on Facebook instead of job boards, she said, “I actually have already started to friend-source the jobs. So, they quickly become either people I’ve worked with in the past [who] are freelancers [or] people [who have been recommended]. I feel comfortable and safe that the recommendations I’m getting come from people I value.”

Consequently, DeCourcy prefers to use Facebook for recruiting over Twitter, which she describes as “pretty free-ranging. I don’t know who follows my feed particularly.”

Those in the Twitter camp, however, cite an advantage: It tends to reach a larger crowd.

Saatchi & Saatchi New York CCO Gerry Graf found associate cd Chris Beresford-Hill on Facebook last year, after Beresford-Hill contacted him there, saying that a mutual friend had suggested they get in touch. Graf now uses the site to connect with creatives he meets in person.

“When there are people I’m interested in, I tell them to ‘friend’ me,” Graf said. “If you’ve friended somebody, then you’ve already put your filter through it. … It’s better than a cold call.”

Tony Granger, global CCO at Young & Rubicam, still relies primarily on headhunters to find talent, including global director of creative Michele Daly. But Granger has found Facebook to be a “nice vehicle” for fostering a relationship with “people you’ve already targeted.”

Interestingly, Granger and DeCourcy rarely, if ever, use LinkedIn, the social networking site designed for filling jobs. Too corporate, according to Granger. Or as DeCourcy put it, “It doesn’t feel as immediate. It feels very formal.”