“We are a young, dynamic team. The organisational structures are flat, and doors are always open. Every week there’s fresh fruit and smoothies in the canteen. And for relaxation, there’s a ball pool and table football in the leisure lounge.” Have you ever read that in a job advertisement? Once or maybe more like a hundred times? Our new generation of employees would say: “Nice”. But in my view, the arguments listed above are of less and less use as real reasons for persuading people to move to an agency.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I have nothing against playing table football in the lunch break, a latte from the cafeteria or an apple from the fruit basket. Nor anything against meetings on the patio, home office or flexi office solutions or brainstorming meetings involving all levels of the company. But I am firmly convinced that these are not the deciding factors which prompt young people to apply for a job with an agency. In my eyes, a job with a digital agency has very different attractions, especially for those embarking on a career or switching horses in mid-stream.
1. Learning more, faster
Ever done an internship in a large corporation in Department 4.7 and performed the same job for four weeks straight? In an agency, you get to know the business in a much shorter space of time. And in fact you’re thrown in the deep end time and again. But those are precisely the situations from which you usually emerge with more self-confidence and many new insights as an employee. From independent customer support, via project management and strategy all the way to reporting and evaluations: in digital agencies, there are numerous areas in which you can bring your interests and talent to bear and refine your skills. Of course, Fanta4-like (Fanta4 is a German hip hop band, they had a song called “MfG” with lyrics only made of abbreviations), we also have SSP, DSP and KPI, but in addition we programme skills for Alexa, helpful apps for refugees and invent new advertising tools. Nobody needs an A38 pass with us.
2. Taking on responsibility fast
Constant learning, new knowledge and more skills naturally go hand-in-hand with greater responsibility within a short space of time. Racking up a few years of servitude on the back benches before taking on some responsibility yourself, that makes no sense in our industry. Wherever specialist knowledge is needed, we require experts who can get stuck in immediately. And generalists or strategists who not only can see the wood from the trees but can also construct the most beautiful tree houses from it. Regardless of whether it’s an assignment for a new client or an internal process: anyone can make a contribution in a digital agency, no matter where they stand in the hierarchy. Stultifying committees and working groups don’t fit with a working culture shaped by scrum and the like. You can only sprint if there’s enough room to slow down. Taking on responsibility for the final result is in employees’ DNA in a digital agency. That can be strenuous at times, but usually satisfying is the more appropriate epithet.
3. Climbing the ranks faster
Four more years in a junior post and the next promotion will only come if a colleague is moved or resigns? That’s an absolute exception in digital agencies. If you’re a fast learner and show commitment, you are guaranteed to get the chance to climb the ladder. While employees in a large corporation often have to wait longer in the career queue, it is entirely possible in a digital agency to take the next step in your career every year and to reach a position of team leader after three to four years. These opportunities not only motivate individuals but are also important for the agency to enable it to develop as a company in as agile a fashion as possible. That’s why it’s in the DNA of digital agencies to give their employees the greatest possible leeway.
4. First movers, influencers, checkers
Artificial Intelligence, influencers, chatbots, data management platforms and customer centricity. Quite normal language for us, but just double Dutch to normal people. We are the first to develop the solutions which will later play a major role in people’s everyday lives. Anyone working in a digital agency, doesn’t just have their finger on the pulse of the times. They are among the first movers in our society. We get insights into companies and stimulating markets in a very early phase of development. And the rule for new developments is often that the experts are the ones who are the first to devote themselves to the subject — because no-one else has any experience of it. In the process, we don’t just develop new solutions with the latest tools and technologies, we also have to acquire a keen instinct for people’s motives and the way they behave. This also sometimes makes us influencers in private life when it comes to explaining new developments. Our job is exciting, with every day a fresh challenge. And we learn with every update.
5. Integrated, overarching work
Graphic designers, creatives, media planners, programmers, strategists — a digital agency works most efficiently when it takes an integrated approach. Together with numerous advertising trades, acting as the client’s general contractor. We are the architects, foremen, bricklayers, electricians or tilers of the Digital Transformation. The only difference is that our building sites are called “campaigns”, “applications”, “skills” or “solutions”. The common goal is not a finished building but the financial success of our clients. And because every assignment highlights different aspects, requiring varying strategies and communication measures, the team constantly faces new challenges. Thinking in the round and focusing on the outcome are bread and butter for a digital agency. This also includes mutual understanding. On a personal level, of course, but predominantly from a professional perspective. For this reason, the usability expert must know what the SEO advertising professional does, and creatives have to know how media works. That is not always easy in detail but very enriching in totality.
6. Variety as the rule
Every day by rote? That rarely happens in a digital agency. Different clients from a wide variety of sectors, new tools and technologies. The fast pace of things digital in the world makes demands on us every day. Very little of it can be learned at universities, and every update throws up a new challenge. Digital agencies represent the ideal professional environment for first and fast movers. And salaries and working hours? Appropriate, totally competitive remuneration and flexible working time arrangements almost go without saying in a modern digital agency. We know what a competitive world it is, and we have long since taken the fight for talent to heart. A good salary, a working environment that promotes initiative and a modern workplace are therefore part of the compulsory programme. The freestyle element does not include a ball pool. It is the DNA of digital agencies (see points 1 to 6) that makes us as employers attractive to young people starting out on their careers.