6 Essential Hiring Tips to Build a High-Performing Creative Team

Colby Flood
Creative Strategy

As an agency leader, nothing is more important than having the right team around me. 

Over the past several years, as Brighter Click has grown from a solo venture to a team that includes members for strategy, media buying, copywriting, design, and operations, I’ve had to learn on the go how to find the right people for every role. 

Unfortunately, being an agency leader doesn’t come with a handbook––but this blog might help. 

Hiring isn’t just about finding individuals with the right skills; it's about cultivating a cohesive unit that shares our passion, vision, and commitment to excellence for every project. As we’ve grown, I've honed my approach to hiring, distilling it into six essential tips that have proven invaluable in assembling and nurturing a top-tier creative team. So, let's dive in.

1. Proactively Recruit Talent 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to steer clear of waiting for an urgent need to arise before filling a position. Instead, I always advocate for proactive recruitment whenever possible. This approach helps us avoid the stress of scrambling to fill positions under pressure, ensuring we always have a pool of potential candidates ready to step in.

Nothing is more stressful than scrambling to fill positions under pressure. Whether you’ve acquired new clients and need certain roles filled to meet their needs or you’ve lost an employee suddenly and have to fill their position, it’s not unusual to find yourself thrown into the hiring process. 

Instead of scrambling, though, I've learned to anticipate our team's needs and maintain a continuous search for top-tier talent. Here’s why:

  • The rationale behind proactive recruitment is simple. By looking for potential candidates even when there's no immediate opening, we create a talent pipeline ready to step in at a moment's notice. 
  • This approach not only ensures that we're prepared for any staffing needs but also empowers us with the luxury of time to thoroughly evaluate candidates, assess their fit with our team culture, and envision how they can contribute to our collective success.
  • Proactive recruitment reflects our commitment to long-term growth and sustainability. Rather than settling for the first available candidate in a moment of urgency, we take a proactive stance, investing in the future of our team and our organization. 

By staying proactive in our recruitment efforts, we ensure that we always have access to the best talent, positioning us for continued success in the ever-evolving landscape of creative marketing.

2. Prioritize Culture Fit

Many technical skills can be learned, but culture fit isn’t something most people can just pick up or adapt to. It’s something that a candidate either has or doesn’t. In my experience, a cohesive team culture is the element that makes everything click. It's what fosters collaboration, fuels creativity, and ultimately drives success.

When it comes to building a high-impact creative team, culture fit is a non-negotiable. While a candidate may have all the right qualifications on paper, if they don't align with our team dynamic, it's unlikely to work out in the long run. That's why I place such a strong emphasis on aligning candidates with our company culture and values. 

A university degree doesn’t guarantee that someone will be a great collaborator or a forward-thinker. So, when evaluating candidates, I consider the following: 

  • I look beyond their resume and skill set to determine whether they share our core values, align with our mission, and fit in seamlessly with the rest of the team. 
  • During the interview, I’ll ask questions about their future goals, what they love about their current role, and what they want to do more of—all of these are good ways to determine what they’re working toward and how they’ll gel with the team.
  • Prioritizing culture fit isn't just about creating a pleasant work environment (though that's certainly a nice perk). It's about fostering a sense of belonging, building trust, and driving performance. 

When everyone on the team is on the same page and pulling in the same direction, magic happens. That's why culture fit will always be one of my top priorities when building our team, ensuring our collective success and cohesion.

3. Have a Comprehensive Hiring Process

Over the years, I've fine-tuned our approach to hiring many times over, and one thing I feel 100% sure about is that a comprehensive process makes all the difference. 

So, what do I mean by comprehensive? Well, it's about covering all the bases. From the initial application to the final interview, every step of the process serves a purpose. Here’s how I approach hiring: 

  • We start with resumes and form submissions to understand a candidate's qualifications, skills, and experience. 
  • The last question of this phase always includes a video submission, where I see a candidate’s personality shine through. I keep an eye out for how well they communicate, how they relay information, and how comfortable they are on camera. As a remote agency, this is especially important for client-facing roles. 
  • Finally, I wrap it up with one-on-one interviews to dig deeper into their skills, values, and fit with our team.

Generally, 10% of applications make it through each phase of this process until I’ve made my final choices for the role. 

Remember: it's not just about ticking boxes and checking off qualifications. It's about getting to know the candidate as a whole person—their strengths, weaknesses, and what makes them stand out. By casting a wide net and taking a thorough approach, we ensure we bring in the best possible talent, instilling confidence in our decision-making process. 

4. Look for Passion and Industry Alignment

As I said, when hiring for our team, I'm not just looking for someone who can check off all the boxes on a job description. I'm looking for someone who lights up when they talk about their work, is always eager to learn and grow, and is truly invested in our industry.

I’ve learned when running an agency that passion is contagious. 

  • When the right strategist, designer, and copywriter work together, they feed off each other, and their creativity and excitement permeate the whole team. 
  • Clients notice passionate employees, too. And they’re eager to work with creatives who constantly bring new ideas and get excited about what’s possible for their brand. 
  • Team members who are genuinely passionate about their roles are more likely to keep up with the latest industry trends, meaning they’re always ahead of the curve and thinking of new ways to push the envelope and improve their work. 

At the end of the day, I want people on our team who aren't just here for a paycheck—they're here because they love what they do and are excited to make a difference.

5. Balance of Creative Strategy and Execution

In a fast-paced business like digital marketing, you need more than great ideas; you also need to bring them to life in a way that resonates with your audience. 

Understanding marketing strategy and consumer behavior is essential. It allows us to develop campaigns strategically aligned with our clients’ goals and objectives. But strategy alone isn't enough. Creative team members also need the ability to execute creatively—to turn those strategic insights into compelling, visually appealing content that captures attention and drives action.

  • When building our team, I look for individuals who excel in both domains. I want people who can think strategically and understand the bigger picture and how our work fits into it. 
  • I also want people who can roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty – who can take an idea from concept to completion with skill and finesse.

By striking the right balance between strategic thinking and creative execution, we ensure that our team is equipped to tackle any challenge that comes our way. It's about combining the best of both worlds – the analytical rigor of strategy with the boundless creativity of execution. 

6. Adapt and Evolve

The hiring process is never set in stone, and no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Instead, it needs to be continually refined and adapted to meet the needs of our team and industry.

Over the years, I've learned the importance of remaining agile and open to change. Here’s why: 

  • By getting feedback from team members and stakeholders, we can continually refine our recruitment strategies to stay ahead of the curve. 
  • This might mean experimenting with new assessment methods, revisiting job descriptions, or leveraging technology-driven solutions to streamline hiring.
  • By embracing a culture of continuous improvement and learning, we position ourselves as employers of choice and build teams primed for success. 
  • It's about staying attuned to industry trends and emerging best practices and being willing to adapt our approach to meet the evolving needs of our team and our industry.

When it comes to building a high-impact creative team, adaptability isn't just a nice to have—it's a key to sustainable success. It allows us to stay ahead of the curve, attract top talent, and drive innovation in everything we do. 

Want more growth marketing strategies?

Check out The Marketing Mindset Podcast, where I sit down with industry leaders, marketers, and CEOs from a wide range of industries every single week! 

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