agency talent acquisition
Human Resources

Hiring the best talents for your agency


For an agency, which mainly offers services to its clients, the quality and stability of its team is a crucial issue.

So we organized a webinar with Nicolas Darcis, Talent Acquisition Strategist, to talk about how an agency can build its dream team.

The goal was for Sortlist member agencies to get concrete advice on how to build an effective recruitment strategy and attract top talent.

All of these tips are in the notes that follow 👇

Flexibility is non negociable

Today, it will be very complicated for companies that impose face-to-face training to attract talent.

According to Nicolas, you have to have serious reasons and solid arguments to impose it.

In Ask Me Anything, he advises to consider the candidate as a customer, to whom we will propose several options:

  • Full remote,
  • Hybrid,
  • Face-to-face.

It is necessary to let the candidates choose how they want to work and how they want to organize themselves.

This is a crucial element, not only to attract talent, but also to keep them in the long term.

Managing in full-remote

That said, if you decide to give remote access, you’ll need to organize the way you manage your teams.

Especially when you hire global employees remotely, it’s important to cultivate a flexible working environment that accommodates everyone’s needs and preferred working styles. 

This approach not only attracts top-notch talent, but also fosters a sense of unity, ensuring that everyone is aligned and working together towards a common goal.

You need to put in place a method and a culture that allows you to be efficient, even when your whole team is working in different locations.

For Nicolas, this means setting up asynchronous models and very specific rules for remote work.

For example:

  • Reply to a Slack message within 12 hours of receiving it,
  • Use WhatsApp in case of emergency,
  • Etc.

In the end, remote management can work very well, as long as you have a well-defined framework.

The job market’s turnover

Today, we have to realize that the job market has become very liquid.

According to Nicolas, when we think long-term, we think 18-24 months. At the beginning of the century, the logic was to stay at least 5-10 years in the same company.

So the turnover rates in companies have become very fast and you have to accept that the employee does not belong to the company. He is just passing through, it’s an exchange of courtesies, and he will eventually leave.

But be careful, this does not mean that you should use management by constraint, by putting clauses that prevent your employees from leaving. On the contrary, the more flexible you are and the more you let people go, the better you can retain your talent.

That said, such liquidity necessarily costs time and money. And that’s why you need to know how to manage offboarding effectively.

Handling an off-boarding

The principle is simple to remember: red carpet at the entrance, red carpet at the exit.

When someone leaves your team, you have to accompany them in the best possible way.

If the person wants to leave quickly, you have to find solutions so that you can do it together. Then, you should also set up an Exit Interview, to understand why the person has decided to leave.

Be careful with the timing of the Exit Interview. In the AMA, Nicolas advises to do it in the 2-3 days following the departure of the employee, after everything is well closed and the person has no more contractual link with your agency.

This will allow him/her to have a little more distance and to talk to you much more freely about the reasons for his/her departure.

These good practices will allow you to leave an excellent impression on your employee, who will speak highly of your agency when asked about their experience with you.

The culture-fit trap

Many companies use Culture Fit to identify the talent they want to recruit.

But the problem with this mindset is that you end up :

  • Replicating what’s already working,
  • Asking what a candidate is missing to make it work.

In the Ask Me Anything, Nicolas recommends using the Culture Add, where we look to recruit talent based on what they can bring to the company.

Culture Fit can make you miss out on the richness of cultural diversity, in addition to contributing to the feeling of talent scarcity.

Indeed, not only are agencies looking for rare skills, but if they reduce their hunting ground by limiting themselves to culture fit, they really make things difficult for themselves.

So think “Culture Add” instead of “Culture Fit”.

Handling candidates’ expectations

Then, Nicolas advises to be in an approach where the expectations are explicit. For your agency, the challenge is to be able to put in front of a candidate the reality of your company.

Be authentic about what you expect from your talents, and make sure that their expectations are well aligned with yours.

The employer brand’s role

What about the role of the employer brand in attracting talent? For Nicolas, the employer brand is above all an emanation of the company culture.

And the culture of your agency is the sum of the behaviors you accept within your teams.

Therefore, if you want to attract talent, ask yourself which behaviors you accept and which you don’t. This will allow you to establish your culture. This will allow you to establish your culture, which will transpire through your employer brand.

For example, let’s say you have a hyper-effective person on your team, but that person has toxic behavior in relation to others.

What do you do?

If you keep this person, you will create human debt. Everyone around will be less happy, less efficient, and will eventually leave. And above all, you are sending a strong message that you tolerate this type of toxic behavior.

So have the courage to recognize when a collaboration is not working, to privilege the collective over the individual. You will undergo an amputation to avoid gangrene.

Recruiting your first employee

When developing an agency, the first recruitment is a key step.

In Ask Me Anything, Nicolas shares several best practices to follow in order to succeed in your first recruitment.

First of all, take the time to determine the characteristics you are looking for, whether in terms of :

  • Skills,
  • Resilience,
  • Commitment,
  • Values,
  • Personality,
  • Seniority,
  • Etc.

Then, think about the must-haves that the candidate must have and that are non-negotiable points in order to join your team.

Finally, have clear and explicit expectations, and communicate them to each candidate who applies to your company to give him or her every chance, but also to avoid wasting time with those for whom these expectations are not appropriate.

One mistake to avoid

If there’s one thing you should avoid doing when recruiting, it’s taking references.

According to Nicolas, this method (calling previous employers to learn more about the candidate) has no predictability and is of more than modest value.

Instead, try to be hyper-transparent in your communication, so that the candidate knows what to expect:

  • Compensation,
  • Work mode (hybrid or not hybrid),
  • Context (why you’re hiring),
  • Who the team members are and who the candidate will be working with,
  • Etc.

Finally, if there is any doubt, it is because you have not asked the right questions. When you have a doubt about what a client wants, it’s because you haven’t asked the right questions to establish the brief. It’s the same with a candidate.

A recruitment’s steps

Finally, the last question addressed in the Ask Me Anything: what are the steps to include in the structure of a recruitment?

For Nicolas, there is no need to do 15 interviews.

The ideal is to do :

  • 1 interview,
  • 1 business case,
  • 1 review interview,
  • 1 proposition.

In addition, to help you make a choice among the candidates you are going to meet, do not hesitate to list the questions and to couple them with a weighting system and a scorecard.

This will make it easier for you to gauge the candidates in the answers they will give you, and therefore to make a decision more easily, without basing yourself solely on your gut feeling.


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