European recruitment consultant Harry Kew discusses his experience of working with digital marketing job seekers in both single-country and multinational agencies across Europe.
Is life at large international agencies as exciting as it may seem?
The European Digital Marketing landscape – it’s a diverse and ever-changing outlook. It’s one that I as a recruiter specialized in performance marketing and paid media candidates get to see in all its complexity, working with digital marketing job-seekers across the continent.
As much as it is my daily task to find great talent for my clients, it’s also a key part of my role to work with candidates and help them uncover career opportunities across the market which match their ambitions and professional goals.
One of the big decisions that a job-seeker has to make is the type of organization they wish to work in, and in the European digital agency scene, a major component of that choice is whether to sign up with a regional/domestic agency or to opt for a larger, multinational employer who operates across international borders.
At the heart of the matter – what’s the difference?
Does working for a domestic agency shut you off from opportunity and long-term potential offered by a multinational agency?
On the flip side, does the excitement and ‘international opportunity’ commonly associated with larger agencies ever actually materialize? Are the perks just a mirage?
They’re great questions, and ones that can have a major impact on new hires if their expectations don’t match the reality once they start in a new role.
To look at domestic agencies first
It’s self-evident that the corporate infrastructure doesn’t allow for inter-office transfers or other obvious ‘international’ perks. Nobody is sent to train in an exotic overseas HQ.
However, there are plenty of other things to weigh in the balance. First off, supporting a surging domestic economy in a single-country agency creates a far more exciting work environment than working in the regional hub of a ‘glamorous’ big-brand agency in one of their slower international markets.
Secondarily, regional or domestic agencies can have more focus, unity of purpose and coherent daily operations than a bigger, sprawling international giant. This can be a big irritation in some global agencies – the absence of a sense of direction and collaboration. The company’s goals and growth can extend so far beyond each individual office as to create a sense of isolation. Not all agencies suffer from this, but some do.
On top of that, with the digital employment scene now embracing regular international candidate relocation in response to an urgent need to onboard key skills, many ‘single nationality’ agencies are in fact thriving hubs of multinational and multilingual professionals. The large majority of Adaptive’s digital agency clients are highly cosmopolitan organizations, even if their print on the map is confined to a single country.
Looking at the multinational agency scene
My personal experience working with candidates has been mixed. There are definitely agencies out there who embrace their global structure and work hard to open it up to their employees. Some of the biggest even offer rotational programs, specifically designed to give marketers the chance to work from their London, Paris and New York locations.
Plenty also offer a higher degree of international collaboration, even if it doesn’t take the form of regular inter-office travel. Agencies with specialist hubs across Europe often offer the feeling of global collaboration through regular video conference calls and cross-functional projects that international job-seekers are looking for.
However – does this sometimes hinder efficiency or complicate communication in a way that single-location agencies don’t have to worry about? Possibly – depends on the agency, but it’s a candidate criticism I have encountered.
When weighed in the balance, it’s a very tough topic to call – generalizations don’t get the job done, as the daily reality is so specific to each agency.
As I work through this issue with candidates, we look to build a ‘wishlist’ of factors that they are seeking in their next role, and make sure these are matched in the opportunities we explore together – regardless of company structure.
One thing’s for sure – to judge a company exclusively on its layout or number of offices is a mistake.
It takes a deeper dive and more detailed conversation to make sure you know what’s happening on the inside, and avoid making assumptions from the outside!
Feel free to reach out to him on LinkedIn for a networking conversation.
Tel: +44 207 193 2046
E-Mail: harry.kew (@) adaptive-digital.com
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