We have no special talent - We are only passionately curious

Albert Einstein once said that he has no special talent but is passionately curious. Here, Sally Heiser, Account Director at Publicis London explains why an inquisitive mind, curiosity, a creative approach and storytelling are the key to success when looking for talent.

It’s been proven, documented, chanted and preached across the industry – diversity is a good thing for agencies. A necessary thing, in fact, to stay relevant, current, and interesting.

However, turning fine words into actual action is hard because, let’s face it, until now our industry and approach to recruitment hasn’t always been inclusive and far-reaching. We’ve built up a pool of immense talent, but it’s chock-full of the same ‘advertising people’ we have been attracting for the last few decades.

There’s action that can be taken straight away. For one, we can look to recruit from outside the sector. But that’s dealing with the symptoms, not the cause. We need to tackle why people from the broadest possible range of backgrounds don’t choose advertising as a potential career option. 

We need to expose the industry to young people at the point when they are deciding what they want in a career and how they’ll achieve it.  At the moment, there are too many young inquisitive creative brains out there for whom ‘advertising’ doesn’t cross their minds, and certainly isn’t presented to them as an option.

Yet if we want to be considered by a broader range of young people, we need to rethink what qualifications they need to get their foot in the agency door.  The industry has many established and successful graduate schemes. These work well to attract great talent, and will always have their place. But they can’t be the only route in, especially when attitudes to higher education are changing.

According to a Sutton Trust survey of 3,000 students in England & Wales, the proportion of young people not considering going to university is now at its lowest in eight years (around one  in every eight).

The amount of student debt that degrees now rack up is enough to stifle many a creative dream.

Without devaluing the skills that develop at uni (both academic and practical), we need to recognise that there are also all kinds of jobs in advertising that don’t require a degree. Instead, they require an inquisitive mind, curiosity, a creative approach, or storytelling prowess. Nowadays though, there’s limited opportunities to break into the industry for people without a degree. If we can offer a different way in (and make allowances to provide the training they may need), we’ll unlock a pool of potential previously overlooked.  

That’s why initiatives like Advertising Unlocked from the IPA are so important. It’s an industry-wide ‘’open day’’ across participating agencies open to everyone – degree or no degree. Publicis London are using it as a brilliant way to kick off our new offering of paid summer internships (for anyone 16+) alongside our existing graduate scheme to attract the best young talent. Advertising Unlocked shows how agencies can work together to widen our talent pool and rethink our approach to recruitment. We want to inspire a new era for talent entering our industry, no matter where you started. It’ll start by throwing open the doors on 29th September.

Last updated 21 January 2022