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Grey Group Malaysia’s HR director on the biggest candidate turn-offs



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The advertising industry is competitive and cut throat. As such, agencies are always on the lookout for the best talent that will blow them away. While hiring practices may differ among agencies, one thing for sure is that individuals are expected to be passionate about the job and be knowledgeable about the industry.

Alicia Tang (pictured), HR director, Grey Group Malaysia shares her honest opinions on traits that she looks out for when hiring account/planning directors, and certain things that turn her off.

Q: What do you look out for when trying to hire an account director / planning director?

He or she should be highly aware of a broad range of marketing, industry and popular phenomena and trends. Today, it’s not just about the consumer. You’d have to know what’s happening in politics, science, music, technology, language and a bunch of stuff that impacts people’s interests, their communication and behaviour.

Individuals should also have a capacity for empathy. Most of the time, you work with brands that are absolutely nothing like you, so empathy is very important. Applicants must be able to put themselves in the shoes of others.

I also look out for the ability to sell. In this day and age of information overload, the ability to consume, assimilate and distill lots of information into a clear concept is important. An idea is only as good as your ability to convince your client or team. One needs to be good at expressing that concept with compelling language, build a case around it, as well as defend and generate excitement.

Employees need to have a loud and convincing voice and dare to be different, even when everyone thinks it’s wrong.

And of course, the ability to write convincingly is important as well. Last but not least, he or she must have balls. Employees need to have a loud and convincing voice and dare to be different, even when everyone thinks it’s wrong.

Q: What are some of the things that turn you off completely?

Being unprepared or clueless about the company. Other things that turn me off also include turning up late, being arrogant and boasting about oneself, making disparaging comments about one’s previous company or boss, blaming others for mistakes and focusing on perks rather than the job itself.

Q: How important is word of mouth references from employees?

Very important. One or two phone calls can make or break the deal.

Q: What are the new skill sets required to be successful in today’s creative ad world?

Core skills remain the same. You just need the ability to adapt to the changing environment, products, services and behaviour, and change accordingly. One needs to be flexible, actively learning, as well as monitoring oneself and others.

Photo / Provided


This interview was first published in Marketing Magazine.

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