Integrated Creative Agency | Head of Photography

by Julian Briggs on 07/06/2019 0 comments

Categories: Case Studies

Marketing & Advertising Agency Recruitment | Head of Photography
This Creative Agency recruitment case study illustrates the importance of managing the recruitment process. This assignment tested our skills beyond anything I’d seen before. In fact, beyond anything I’m likely to see again. Challenged by circumstances beyond our control, we achieved success, & the desired outcomes for our client & candidate…
This Creative Agency recruitment case study illustrates the importance of managing the recruitment process. This assignment tested our skills beyond anything I’d seen before. In fact, beyond anything I’m likely to see again. Challenged by circumstances beyond our control, we achieved success, & the desired outcomes for our client & candidate…


This creative agency recruitment case study summarises an assignment for a the top integrated creative agency. The Head of Photography was a newly created role within the agency. It was also a new discipline for us to recruit. However, the challenge wasn’t the talent attraction phase of the recruitment process. Our ability to research, identify and head hunt creative talent enabled us to present our shortlist within weeks.

Perhaps we found the agency’s ideal candidate quicker than they expected. However due to circumstances beyond our control, affecting the timeline from brief to offer, our management of the recruitment process was tested way beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. In fact beyond anything I’m ever likely to see again.

Drawn out over eight months, our management of the recruitment process delivered a succesfull outcome to this protracted agency recruitment assignment.

The recruitment process

Before the case, first of all I’ll briefly explain the recruitment process. Or at least our recruitment process.

For companies, dependent on their recruitment methods, in-house or outsourced to a different agency, the process may differ. This is also true for candidates who may have had, or receive, a different experience from other recruitment agencies. Or indeed from companies own internal recruitment processes.

However, to simplify the recruitment process for the purpose of this case study, I’ll briefly explain the talent attraction and talent acquisition phases.

Talent Attraction & Talent Acquisition

Talent attraction and talent acquisition are terms covering the complexities of the recruitment strategy and process.

Talent attraction describes the front end of our recruitment process, from brief, through the identification and screening of potential candidates. The talent acquisition phase describes the later stages of the recruitment process. From interview through to offer negotiations, resignation management and on-boarding.

The recruitment process should always be well executed. Integrating a seamless transition between the two phases. To clarify, a poor candidate experience can be detrimental to the success of the immediate, and future recruitment efforts, damaging the employer brand of the business.

So, with the process terminology explained, here’s the case study…

Creative Agency recruitment case study

We’d worked with the agency for several years. Assisting their evolution from a traditional above the line and below the line marketing agency to becoming an integrated creative agency.

Experiencing a rise in photographic briefs, in particular one of the agency’s key accounts wanted them to pitch for their on and offline photography work. Up until this point the agency had used freelance photographers. However, partly driven by their client, but also the desire to bring photography in-house, the agency wanted to recruit a Head of Photography.

However, the agency had a dilemma. Did they currently have enough photographic work to make the Head of Photography role commercially viable. Then again, could they risk losing a key account as a result of not having  in-house photographic capability.

Head of Photography | Brief development

The initial agency recruitment breif we was fairly sketchy.

In order to attract the best creative talent, the agency wanted to offer an attractive package. However, the need for the role to be commercially viable was also required. Therefore, the brief required the obvious creative talent, but the Head of Photography would also need to be willing, and capable, of championing photography as a revenue stream.

To further aid the commercial viability of this new position, we also recommended tweaking the initial creative agency recruitment breif.

Our suggestions for brief development included adding additional skills that would benefit the agency’s current creative output. In essence, seeking candidates with additional skills to support both the investment in the role, and also the agency’s creative output, whilst proactively developing photographic revenue.

The agency recruitment assignment

As much as the Head of Photography was a new role for the agency, at the time it was also a new discipline for us to recruit. Our talent attraction strategy combined the full mix of our recruitment methods.

The talent attraction stage of the process

Our ability to proactively target and head hunt creative talent delivered results within a matter of weeks. Having been briefed in mid November, we’d conducted an extensive search of the talent pool, presenting our shortlist in early December. First interviews for all but one candidate, were conducted before Christmas. However one persons diary couldn’t sync with the agency teams availability. Therefore preventing their interview from taking place before Christmas.

Following the Christmas break, extended holidays with some of the agency team meant the final first interview couldn’t be booked until late January. Over the weeks leading up to this point we not only liaised with the agency, and the candidate to arrange the interview. We also needed to keep the people interviewed before Christmas informed and engaged.

However, following the final candidates first interview, the agency decided they were the right person for their Head of Photography role. So, a second interview was arranged. Again due to diaries it couldn’t take place until mid February.

continues below 

Mind the Gap safety notice

The gap in the recruitment process

The second interview in mid February went well. Both the agency and the candidate were keen to progress. However, due to a number of internal issues, including holidays, medical issues with one of the agency’s key decision makers. A delay to the agency photography pitch to their key client, in short there was a gap in the recruitment process.

In order to keep the candidate engaged, and the agency updated on their situation, we maintained regular contact with both parties. By early April, the agency were ready to push on. However, due to busy diaries yet again, including the candidate being on a photo-shoot on another Continent for three weeks, the next meeting couldn’t be arranged until the end of May.

As a result, having been the sole contact between the two parties for several months, we suggested a phone call between the candidate and Creative Director. This was important, given the gap in the process, we wanted to get them back in direct communication, and start rebuilding rapport before the meeting in May.

The talent acquisition stage of the process

Following the return from their overseas photo-shoot the meeting between the agency leadership team and candidate was arranged. However, it also materialised that whilst working away, the candidate had been made an offer from the client they’d been working for.

With this new development to also contend with, we successfully navigated through the remaining interview, offer negotiations, resignation and notice period. As a result achieving the succesfull talent acquisition of the new Head of Photography for the agency. And also secured the desired career move for the candidate.

Creative agency recruitment conclusion

End to end management of the recruitment process, and candidate experience, at each touch-point of the recruitment process is essential. Particularly if you want to attract the best talent. Both for the immediate role and in the future. In short, poor management of the recruitment process damages a company’s employer brand. As a result affecting the success of current and future recruitment campaigns and talent retention rates.

Head of Photography | How we did it

We believe working in partnership delivers the best recruitment outcomes. This is true for all parties – client, individuals and our ability to assist both. The recruitment of the Head of Photography involved working collaboratively with a number of the agency’s senior leadership team. Including the HR Director, Creative Director, who we’d previously recruited for the agency, and the Group Account Director of the key account. Of course, it goes with out saying that throughout the recruitment process we also work closely with our candidates.

Our management capabilities during this assignment were tested beyond exceptional circumstances. Through no fault of our own, the recruitment process from brief to start date took eight months, despite us presenting out shortlist within weeks.

To achieve the successful outcome required extensive, and labour intensive, management. However, our collaborative approach ensured a positive outcome to this challenging recruitment assignment.

Got a creative recruitment brief and want to attract the best agency talent? Talk to us. Our proactive recruitment methods go beyond the low hanging fruit of active candidates, we search deeper, accessing the valuable passive talent pool. Contact us to find out more.

Tagged As