How To Find The Right Talent For Your Team

For years, I have relied on the various and sundry job boards to supply quality creative candidates. Whether it’s, Coroflot, Behance, AIGA, Dribbble, AuthenticJobs, or any of the other competitive and viable job listing sites, that has always been the foundation of the candidate search.

In the last couple of years, however, I’ve turned that idea on its head, and to great effect.

Create the team you want

I’ve been doing the search myself. Instead of sitting back and waiting for quality candidates to reach out, HR sifting through applicants, HR forwarding potential candidates to Creative Services, weeding out the candidates we want to talk with, and then HR reaching out to set up phone interviews, now we go directly to the source. Aside from being much less time consuming, it is wildly more efficient.

For each open position, I create new (private, if possible) lists of designers and prospective talent on and Behance, and keep a spreadsheet of potential talent to reach out to via LinkedIn. I send a lot of emails, which yes, is time consuming, but I try to keep them short, just introducing myself, our company and team, and expressing interest in a further conversation.

Much higher yield on time spent

I’d say the response rate is a bump over 50%, and we probably have constructive conversations with half of those people, roughly yielding a 25% candidate return. In addition, many of the designers that respond, but whom aren’t interested in a full-time position, often turn into freelancers that we reach out to when we’re overbooked on projects (which happens consistently for us all, right?). So, the time and effort we spend on this method of candidate development really is a quality investment in the overall future and health of our team.

Reinforce your efforts

My company still posts on job boards as one prong of the approach, as well as listing the position on our corporate site (the yield of which is a total crap shoot), but three of the last four people I’ve hired, I found myself (two on Dribbble, and one on LinkedIn). It becomes more of a safety net in the process, rather than the go-to approach for culling quality designers from the ether.

This process isn’t going to work for everyone, of course. And for others, it just isn’t realistic. But for me, as the Creative Director of DEFY Media‘s in-house agency, it’s what needs to be done. While our company is buzzing and in the news left and right, it’s hard for an in-house creative services team to have the same allure amidst all of the startups and name brand digital shops / agencies.

If you’re HUGE, Google, Big Spaceship, Facebook, F-I, Deutsch, etc., the talent seeks you out. And while we’re building towards that day, of course, this process will have to do, for now…

Please, share your tips and strategies for how you’re finding great talent.

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