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Smartphone in one hand, vegan leather passport holder in the other, Kiwi millennials are off on new adventures – and they’re waiting for no one. Resident millennial recruitment agent Anna Bethell shares her insights on the growing NZ youth talent shortage and explains what The Pond’s doing to fill the gaps in agencies. 

Ah, millennials. Entitled avocado addicts to some, career-focused new media assets to others. 

There’s plenty up for debate about our young workforce, whether they’re considering career choices, relationships or travel plans but there’s one thing just about everyone can agree on: millennials are experience driven. 

However, millennials are also more driven and career-focused than many people give them credit for. They’re grabbing every opportunity for advancement with both hands – including eventually moving countries to get a leg up in their career. 

It’s all well and good for the travel-hungry millennials, but what about the jobs and agencies they’re leaving behind? Agency employers are struggling to find, recruit and retain good young talent as they continually eye up their next career move overseas. Local advertising, design and media agencies are some of the hardest-hit businesses, with big overseas agencies and brands offering career-changing experiences that are simply too good to pass up.  

At recruitment agency, The Pond, we’ve got a good grasp on the trends that surround our candidates and we’ve noticed these issues popping up again and again:

    • A lack of intermediate-level agency personnel (particularly in client service roles)
    • An increase in job-hopping within junior and intermediate roles
    • A rise in talent ‘poaching’, as agencies struggle to find good people
    • Offering over inflated salaries for young talent with limited experience
    • A lack of willingness to change jobs at the 4-year experience mark 

There’s a significant shift in how NZ’s account and project management talent map out their careers - particularly in their twenties. As a result, frustration in the industry has never been higher. Good, young agency talent are few and far between creating desperation to fill crucial full-time positions and scrambling to keep projects moving and service key clients.

As recruitment agents, we’ve had to significantly change the way we think about talent acquisition and recruitment. Here are the three things we are doing to help you find the right young agency employee that lasts the distance.


Actively looking for ‘stickability’ 

It’s easy to get someone in for a one-off project but if you’re looking for a permanent staff member to train up, integrate into your team, and trust to stick around, you’re going to need some certainty that you’ve found the right person.

That’s why we’ve put more focus on finding talent with staying power. This can be a tough task when you’re dealing with talent early in their careers, but there’s always positive indications and red flags in those crucial first 1-5 years. Have they already job-hopped? Have they shown loyalty and reliability in the past? What do the people they’ve worked with before have to say about them? And, a key question, how much travel have they done, and do they have any big ‘OE’ plans on the horizon? These are just some of the many questions we agents ask young candidates early in the recruitment process.


Understanding career motivations and mid-term plans 

Actively taking an interest in what candidates have going on in their lives is an important step in placing someone who’s going to go the distance with your agency. We need to know the answer to the million-dollar question: do their short to mid-term goals align with your business growth plans?   

Why are they leaving their last jobs? Are they moving for progression or career direction? Because they were made redundant? And, what are their life goals? Do they want to travel? Buy a house soon? Buy into a business and become a partner?  Or go out on their own and freelance in six months? 

The options are endless, but the goal is clear – to have a clear outline of their motivations for the employer. We do everything we can, so you get an employee that lasts at least 2 years but more than likely completes 4 great years with your agency.

At The Pond, we’ve mastered the art of framing unique and upfront questions to make sure everything is on the table so when you hire through us, you get what you want.


Focusing on talent making the move to New Zealand

Millennial movement worldwide means that just as many are looking to come here or return home.

Sure, we’re losing talent to the big, glittery cities that add star power to CVs. To a certain extent, this has always been the case. The way to win isn’t to try and compete with the pull of the international heavyweight, it’s to look at what we’re gaining through the arrivals gate.

We’re not just enjoying less crowded brunch spots, or a much-needed drop in avocado prices as millennials leave New Zealand. We’re getting some brilliant young creative and account management candidates from some fascinating parts of the world and they already have that highly valuable international experience our Kiwi creatives are so keen on chasing.  

In every new employment challenge, there are new people and opportunities. As frustrating as the millennial talent exodus has been for agency businesses (and for us at The Pond), there are always new ways to adapt and thrive. 

We’ve set our sights on enticing plenty of new overseas talent to join our ranks, and it’s adding incredible richness of experience and wonderfully diverse skillsets to our books. 

In the last year, The Pond’s being putting the proof in the pudding and attracting and placing top talent from around the globe in local agencies. From a super senior Tech Lead moving from South Africa placed at a digital experience agency, to an Ohio based Senior Account Manager placed at a niche agency working in specialist healthcare space, we’re finding and placing top global transformational talent more than ever. 

Global attraction is something we whole heartedly welcome – and if you’re looking for star players like these, we’ve got plenty of talent we can highly recommend.


For more top tips and/or personal assistance in hiring the best talent available in New Zealand, talk to, Anna Bethell, Penny Gambitsis or Leighton Howl at The Pond on 09 373 3791.

Creative. Digital. Marketing. Recruitment.

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