Don’t just say, do: Reject traditional recruitment in favour of inspiring the talent of the future

From big networks to small independents, to turn words into action, we all need to embrace the modernisation of the recruitment process.

Jessica Hollingbery

Associate Marketing Director TIPi Group


Starting my career four years ago I clicked on a Facebook post a friend had put up about an open role working with him at TIPi Group. After briefly reading a job spec, clocking buzz words such as ‘strategy’ and ‘creative’, and a quick interview, I accepted a job in an industry of which I had no prior knowledge.

Within a year I’d handed in my notice and landed myself back at square one.

Luckily enough for me, working in a close knit start up, my Marketing Director had had exposure to my work and offered me a role in the Marketing department which I snapped up after she took me through the realities of the role in detail.

What’s become clear to me is that I was not alone in my situation, with nearly all my friends taking an early career change or sticking at jobs they didn’t enjoy or feel fulfilled by, in order to show that they weren’t ‘quitters’.

In an industry which has been flagged as more untrustworthy than politics, the opportunity to feel like you’ve made a positive difference in people’s lives is quite rare. So, when I saw an opportunity to build something which would help ensure future TIPi Group employees didn’t have to experience a similar false start, I leapt at the opportunity.

In early 2018, Marketing Week found that only 3% of 18-24-year olds saw marketing as their best career option.

Jessica Hollingbery

A lot of talk, but not a lot of action 

Recently there has been a lot of chatter surrounding the talent issues our industry is facing, but there hasn’t been enough action.

Many top agencies take advantage of high demand for a limited number of roles by taking on unpaid interns. These internships are only viable for young people with considerable financial backing and therefore give only a privileged section of society a leg-up into the industry, in turn resulting in a lack of diversity in the industry.

People always say that to get into advertising you have to know someone. And in my case, this was totally true. I found out about my first role through a friend. His first role had also been found through a friend. This leads me onto my next point.

In early 2018, Marketing Week found that only 3% of 18-24-year olds saw marketing as their best career option and suggested that there is a lack of interest in the industry amongst young people. From my own experience, I just don’t think young people are aware of the industry and the opportunities it presents.

With so many agencies courting this 3%, TIPi Group, as a small independent competing against global networks with large perk packages, faced an uphill struggle when it came to attracting the best talent. An inability to source talent in turn damages the potential success of up and coming industry challenger agencies.

And then, even if we do source brilliant industry talent, for many young people entering our industry, it’s unclear what junior roles actually entail on a day-to-day basis, as it was to me. This often leads to recruits starting off in roles that don’t suit their skills or ambition. This can lead to frustration and a lack of career progression. So how do we avoid hiring the wrong people for the wrong roles?

Recently there has been a lot of chatter surrounding the talent issues our industry is facing, but there hasn’t been enough action.

Jessica Hollingbery

What does different look like?

Instead of building a graduate scheme we built a free educational programme, the TIPi Academy, which offers a platform for all junior talent to thrive and learn.

TIPi Academy provides the perfect environment for young would-be recruits to explore new subjects of interest. Current members of staff are always keen to share knowledge and subjects such as strategy, data science and voice search, giving Academists the widespread insights they need to navigate through their future careers. Through TIPi Academy, TIPi Group have uncovered an authentic and compelling way of connecting with a generation who are just setting out into the working world.

We give stand-out applicants, out of a pool of grads and school-leavers, two weeks of free interactive digital training. They spend a fortnight learning about digital and we spend a fortnight learning about them, and at the end of the process we work collaboratively to find a role with TIPi Group that they would genuinely enjoy. At the Academy we don’t select talent on their skills, but their attitude and ambition. We firmly believe that you can’t teach passion.

Not all the Academists get offered a role, but those who don’t, leave with a Google qualification, a TIPi Academy accreditation, a reference, and soft and hard skills that we believe will be invaluable in their ongoing search for employment.

Guest Author

Jessica Hollingbery

Associate Marketing Director TIPi Group


Jess is the Associate Marketing Director at TIPi Group. Alongside working closely with TIPi Group’s leadership, new business and discipline teams to develop integrated marketing campaigns for the group’s four agencies, Jess is also heavily involved in cultural innovations at the group. Jess began her career in the Mobile department of ROAST, the performance arm of TIPi Group, overseeing market research, campaign strategy, optimisation and reporting, as well as managing client relations across the travel, gambling and finance sectors. In 2016, Jess moved into the Marketing department. Off of the back of Marketing Week’s discovery that only 3% of young people singled out marketing as the industry that offers them the best career opportunities, and her own experiences as a junior in the industry, she founded TIPi Academy in August 2018.

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