How to attract and retain top creative talent

According to data from The Creative Group, more than 7 in 10 hiring managers said it is challenging to find talent with up-to-date digital skills. And, in New Jersey, it is hard to find talent. Period. The unemployment rate in New Jersey, as of September, remained at 4.2 percent. And, for most creative positions, it is even lower. For example, the unemployment rate for a creative designer is 1.2 percent.

Bottom line: if you are looking for a talented professional in the creative field, it might be a long search. And, if you have a team of creative professionals, you need to do everything you can to retain those employees.

What positions are in greatest demand?

Not just in New Jersey, but nationwide, creative hiring managers are seeking professionals who can leverage new technologies, use data to enhance the customer experience and deliver superior products and services. The hot positions are:

  • Content strategist;
  • Digital marketing manager;
  • Digital strategist;
  • Email marketing specialist;
  • Front-end web developer;
  • Marketing analytics manager;
  • Project manager;
  • SEO/SEM specialists;
  • Social media manager;
  • User experience designer.

How do you differentiate?

Research shows that most turnover on creative teams occurs among entry-level professionals. The reason? Limited growth opportunities and, simply, boredom. If you’re an employer in New Jersey, or anywhere for that matter, how can you avoid losing your creative talent?

  • Reward creativity and risk-taking. You want to ensure that your employees are empowered to work differently. Younger professionals in the creative field want to know that they can take chances, make mistakes and ultimately be rewarded for thinking outside the box.
  • Invest in career development. Education is a lifelong journey. Especially for creative professionals who are continually looking for advancement opportunities and ways to grow. If they’re not able to do so, you risk losing them to a competitor. And, as mentioned, finding top creative professionals isn’t easy to begin with.
  • Assign responsibility. Give your talented professionals a bigger role. Encourage them to own certain ideas and manage projects. This will give them the sense that they are taking the next step in their careers.
  • Check in often. This might sound obvious, but it is possibly the most important aspect when discussing retention. Don’t just assume that everything is OK — check in with your team and get a sense of morale and culture. If you can uncover any issues ahead of time, you might be able to avoid turnover.
  • Offer competitive salaries. Money doesn’t buy happiness … but it can help. Make sure you’re up-to-date on salary trends, where they are heading and what certain jobs require. Because of demand and low unemployment rates across the state, competitors will be willing to pay. If you want to retain top talent, make sure you are paying your top talent.

There is no magic recipe or guide to hiring in the creative or marketing field. But if you are looking to hire, or retain, creative professionals, you need to do your homework. The market is hot, the demand is there and if you aren’t paying attention, others are.

Rory Butler is vice president and metro market manager for The Creative Group.