(Published in NewMedia September 1999)

Here, Talent, Talent, Talent...



Start with a dynamic crew that everybody wants to join.

Offer a good work environment with all the best toys and equipment.

Give your designers high-quality assignments that engage their hearts and minds.

Give designers room to grow. Involve them in the entire creation process, not just the "design" phase.

Support your designers' decisions -- client choices are not automatically right.

If the company makes a lot of money, your designers should too.

Finding Web producers and designers has always been a challenge, but it is especially difficult these days, given the overtapped market for creatives. High demand has left companies scrambling for skilled designers.

"It's not a tight market for finding designers," says Len Sellers, managing director at Razorfish San Francisco. "It's a tight market for finding good designers." Sellers receives more than 100 resumes a week, many coming unsolicited through the corporate Web site.

As far as recruiting goes, Sellers, like everyone else in the business we chatted with, says there is no single method that results in a magical fit. He advocates taking a multipronged approach to recruiting: Use your contacts, join listservs, sponsor industry events and parties, and -- above all -- involve your current employees in the search. At Razorfish, employees are rewarded with free trips to Hawaii if the person they refer for a position gets hired.

Don't look to expensive outside agencies when you've already got the best recruiters and screeners in-house, Sellers says. In addition to their regular duties, designers at Razorfish meet and interview candidates for open positions. "The staff is the best filter," declares Sellers. "They're doing all the hiring. I just put the final stamp on after they tell me thumbs up or thumbs down."

Thus far, this approach has paid off, and not just in profits. The company's San Francisco office, now numbering some 50 people, has had only one person leave in the past 12 months.

Sellers is quick to admit that Razorfish has an inherent advantage over much of the competition: its name and reputation. People desperately want to work there, and that buzz also brings in higher-level recruits. Still, whether your company is known or not, you have to be more resourceful than ever to entice the best of the bunch these days. Razorfish's formula is good common sense for all companies seeking skilled people: Rely on your informal contacts as much as anything else.

Paul Hicks, Internet art director at iXL in Charlotte, North Carolina, agrees. It's rare to go to an outside agency anymore, he says. iXL recently completed a corporate site redesign and has expanded its online recruiting efforts. But Hicks says that's not enough. "Informal networking" is the name of the game, along with scouring local professional organizations for fresh talent. "The pattern with young people in multimedia is unique," says Hicks. "Their loyalties are not to a single organization these days, but rather to the profession."

To get the best people in such a competitive market, attractive incentives must come together in one package. Both at Razorfish and iXL, the winning combination has three parts: challenging work, a comfortable work environment, and good pay and benefits.

According to Michael Forrest, president of JobOptions, rated this year as one of the three top recruiting sites by PC Magazine, the Web is playing an increasingly big role in hiring multimedia talent. "The medium is a major part of the message you want to send," Forrest says.

And Web recruiting is a clear cost saver, according to a recent study by Jupiter Communications. Average cost per hire is $1,500 for recruiting done via the Web; offline recruiting, using traditional print strategies, averages upwards of $5,000.

Still, finding the best people isn't the only challenge; you need to get them to stick around. When it comes to both hiring and retaining designers, Sally Peel, a corporate training manager at Organic.com, thinks a lot about the big picture. In addition to Organic 101, a monthly speaker series, Organic features regular in-house training and development. These programs must be exceptionally strong if a company wants to stay competitive and attract top-quality designers, Peel says. "If they're getting what they need here, then they're not going to be looking elsewhere. They're just not going to want to go somewhere else."

Inside Edge  September 1999

<< Back