5 Problems Leaving Your Agency Won't Solve

Lenny Kravitz sang that he wanted to get away. Whilst this is largely irrelevant the sentiment expressed is shared by a high proportion of those working in digital marketing agencies. Where do they want to go? In-house.

The ever changing digital media market is shifting once more. Agencies are having to work harder than ever to satisfy client demands in a world of narrowing margins and greater client expertise. The ideal of moving in-house and being, rather than servicing, the client is becoming overwhelmingly popular. Sitting in our crow's nest at Neil's Recruitment Company we see exactly how many current agency employed staff are looking to make the move in-house, in fact we've kept a little tally over the past few weeks:

Perhaps not the most scientific experiment of all time but nonetheless an experiment, the results of which are hard to argue with.

So why are people so desperate to move in-house? Well, a perception has started to grow amongst agency folk that working in-house means a life of short hours, relaxed working conditions, great pay, increased autonomy and turbo-charged career progression. At Neil's Recruitment we felt we needed to get to the bottom of this so we spoke to some of the biggest names in the digital world who had recently made the move away from agencies to see if we could prove or dispel five of the most commonly held beliefs about life in-house.

1. You clock-off at 5pm

Shorter working hours is one of the main reasons people cite as their motivation to move in-house. Whilst it's true there is no pitch-work, you will often work long hours if your vertical fast-paced and seasonal like fashion. Darren Bentley of MoneySupermarket says he works much longer hours now in-house but enjoys it: “I am doing work that keeps me engaged. I work long hours because I want to.” It has to be said though that in some cases clocking-off at 5pm actually does happen.

2. You rocket up the progression ladder

This is an interesting one. As well as being restricted to your discipline, Anna Sokhan from ASOS maintained it was harder to progress in an agency because it “takes longer for an agency to trust that you are a dedicated employee” due to the job-hopping culture. So move in-house and become a Head of? The problem here being the scope of progression is entirely dependent on the company. If the team is very small there can be very little opportunity rise the ranks.

3. You can become a jack of all trades

Again this is team dependent. Darren Bentley said that at MoneySupermarket he would specifically hire “people looking for breadth of knowledge and remit” but they have one of the biggest in-house digital teams in the country. More often the case is that there will be an SEO shaped hole needing an SEO shaped person to fill it.

4. You can get a campaign signed off with the click of a finger

This is another of those red herrings as Andy Mihalop of Google and previously MoneySupermarket pointed out. His experience of trying to drive change was the same in-house as it had been agency side. Whilst clients don't stand in your way in-house, you still have “stakeholders you need to convince and different departments are often siloed with their own agendas”.

5. You escape all the boring stuff

No more reporting? No more setting up fiddly PPC campaigns? Wrong. You may join a relatively small client with a three person PPC team that wants everything to be done in-house. That means you have to do everything. There will be cases of outsourcing the mechanics to agencies but this ranges from some to none.

So what have we learned? From speaking to the in-house experts the main lesson is that you're new role is entirely dependent on the size of the team, the operating model and the outlook of the company you join. If you are looking to make the move in-house, be sure to read all the interviews on Neil's Recruitment Company's website which will give you fantastic insight, some great tips of how to improve your chances and how to avoid any potential pitfalls.

Well this has been fun. As Lenny Kravitz said; 'it ain't over til it's over'. And it's over.

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