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Whether you’re looking for an in-house marketing specialist or an integrated marketer who can keep up with agency life, the easiest way to make sure you’re filling a role as effectively and quickly as possible is with the help of someone who knows what the brightest potential hires are looking for and how to align that with your business needs. 

In essence, an integrated marketing agency is one that can deliver a huge range of marketing deliverables for their clients, from websites and graphics to social media content, videos and blog pieces – and everything in between.

In many cases, the ideal candidate skill set for an integrated marketing agency is subtly different to the kind they’d need when working for an in-house marketing team. But why is this?

To help give you an up-to-date answer, we asked Andrew Midgeley, Henry Nicholas’ Principal Consultant, to share some insight. With over a decade of experience in recruitment and the marketing sector, Andrew has been deeply involved on both sides of the equation, helping top talent secure integrated marketing roles across the country while consulting decision makers on how to attract the best of the best.

Understanding the agency model and the client services team

“When I speak to candidates interested in applying for roles at an integrated marketing agency, I often have to explain to them about the function of the client services team,” Andrew said. 

Working for the client services team is primarily about managing the client work and being the interface between the client and the agency specialist teams – the web development team, content team, design studio, and so on – but non-specialist marketing skills may also be part of their job responsibilities.

Personality can play a big part in the selection process. Integrated marketing agencies work with a wide range of clients of all different sizes. “It takes a certain type of personality to hold your own in meetings with global brands,” Andrew says. “My clients look for gravitas without the ego – a quiet confidence.”


Integrated agencies versus in-house teams

Generally speaking, there are a few key nuances between working for an integrated agency and an in-house marketing team that should be taken into account. It’s important for clients to accurately communicate these differences in their job specs and during the interview process to ensure that candidates know what to expect.

The first major aspects to note are the kinds of projects you can offer as an organisation and the level of impact individual marketers will have on their success.

“If you’re part of an in-house team with a brand, you can watch your work layer up as the brand evolves and projects come to fruition,” Andrew says. “In an agency you’re often delivering a number of different projects simultaneously and then quickly moving on to the next on completion.”

At the same time, in-house marketing teams often don’t have as much freedom – particularly if they’re a large, established brand. The bigger the organisation, the more likely they are to have strictly defined brand guidelines. On the other hand, integrated marketing agencies are more often approached to do innovative work, giving their teams the opportunity to flex their creative muscles.


Attracting the cream of the crop

In a nutshell, attracting the best integrated marketing talent hinges on two key elements. The first is being clear on when a candidate’s personality and goals aren’t right for a role, even if their skills are a perfect match. The second is being competitive with your benefits packages.

“Agencies often prefer candidates from agency backgrounds,” Andrew says. “They want someone who isn’t phased to sit down in a meeting with a giant brand or switch quickly from project to project.

“It’s a unique pace, and candidates who prefer becoming one with a single project or brand over a longer period of time might be better suited for in-house roles.”

To really get the best talent on the market knocking on your door, you also need to focus on your benefits packages. Traditionally in-house roles have led the way here, although integrated marketing agencies have been scaling their packages left and right to keep up. This can cover everything from annual salary through to pensions, healthcare and the option for remote or hybrid working. 

But that’s not all. These days many candidates also want to know the company’s commitment to sustainability, their ethical values, and whether they offer time off to engage with charitable or community initiatives. 

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Bridging the gap from in-house to agency

It can be difficult for an agency to bring in a candidate from a specialised in-house role, but it is certainly possible for them to make the transition. After all, integrated marketing agencies often have their own specialisms, like social media or performance marketing.

For instance, if a candidate is coming from a role as an in-house video specialist, they can bring that focused experience and level up what the agency can offer as a whole. While they might not have experienced the unique pace of agency life, they can potentially bring a wealth of experience in a particular specialism that could be a great asset to the agency’s offering.


“Sometimes there’s a danger that someone can get siloed in a particular niche,” Andrew says. “If they come to an agency as a specialist in video or SEO, that can become all they’re known for.” But if agencies are aware of this, they can strike a balance by hiring a candidate to bolster that niche while offering them exposure to a broader spectrum of skills and projects to add more strings to their bow.

That can go both ways, too. “I recently placed a candidate from an integrated marketing firm into a packaging and design specialist agency,” Andrew says. “To the untrained eye the role wasn’t a perfect fit for their background, but I knew how adaptable the candidate was and what they could do.

“I had to reach out to the hiring manager and ask them to trust that I was sending the right person. After meeting with the candidate, they were so impressed they offered her the job.” 


With decades of experience recruiting top candidates for companies around the country, Henry Nicholas’ experienced consultants are ready and waiting to help you get started. Read their 2023 Salary Report for more insight on the current market for creative and marketing salaries, or get in touch today to start the conversation!