Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Sites Match Agencies With Untapped Talent

Source: http://adage.com/talentworks//article?article_id=127681

Employers Can Screen Applicants More Efficiently, Develop New Hires

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Finding talent is a continuing challenge for marketing-services agencies. But a recent rise of online outlets are democratizing talent, letting creative types share and shop around their work to potential employers. Such sites may alleviate some of the pressures for both agencies and job seekers.

NuIdeaExchange, which launched in February 2008, enables agencies and marketers to submit their requests for proposals and then review submissions. On the flip side, media, account-planning and strategy, creative, production or technology specialists can submit their own creations on the site for marketers or agencies to purchase.

The site has already garnered more than 400 registered creative groups, encompassing "a combination of agencies, freelancers and traditional-minded to new-media-oriented talents," said President Dave Evans. The site gives the creative community a chance to show its work to a large audience, he said. On the agency side, NuIdeaExchange enables agencies to keep all of the work in-house without having to share portions of an assignment it may not be able to handle with other agencies.

Nothing to lose
Martin Schell, president-CEO of New Phase Communications, an Oklahoma City-based phone company, is planning to launch his company within the next 60 days. He issued a request for information on NuIdeaExchange six weeks ago seeking a company logo. Mr. Schell said he has received a couple of proposals and is deciding which one to choose.

"The quality of the work was pretty good," he said. "Both of them are pretty promising. Next step is to decide who I want to go with."

Marshall Lestz, a freelance copywriter, plans to use the site. "For a freelancer who is between jobs, this is a great, easy way to see what's out there and potentially land some work," he said. "You have nothing to lose, especially if you're between jobs or after you have called all of your contacts, because you can only call people so many times before you start to annoy them. Even if you're not chosen, you're still going to be able to make a good contact because you're displaying your abilities to a prospective client down the road."

Anand Chopra-McGowan, partner at YouIntern.com, a site that connects aspiring interns with agencies, said given agencies' struggle to find talent, many view intern programs as a way to develop new hires.

"Programs like this allow us to be a college recruiter for agencies who don't already have one," he said.

Filtering applicants
On the site, interns can post reviews about their experiences at past internships that other students can learn from, and agencies can post internship openings. Arnold Worldwide asked YouIntern.com to find four potential candidates for its summer intern program this year. The agency hired two interns who began the eight-week program last week, said Maurice Haynes, VP-director of worklife, Arnold.

"If you equate time with money, then there definitely is a cost-savings involved," Mr. Haynes said. "It's nice to have someone pre-screen applicants that would be a good fit for the company."

Mr. Chopra-McGowan said identifying the right intern can help eliminate one of the biggest issues in the ad industry: a high turnover rate.

"If they're a good fit for the company, they can move on and make them a longer-term offer," he said. "And chances are that person will stay with the company longer."

Drawbacks
So what's the downside to these online talent clearinghouses? "If you don't know what you want and haven't been through the process before, it can be a little tough,"

Mr. Schell said. "The instructions say, 'Tell us what you want,' but there's not a lot of coaching to pull it out of you."

Added Mr. Evans, "I have spoken to holding companies who said this could be a big help to them. The only fear on their side is the dynamics of what it means to the industry," he said. "Some of them are saying they want to talk to us but they are fearful of the fact of how this is going to impact them as an agency. But they have said it's probably better for us to engage in it and work with it vs. trying to fight it."

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