Disrupting the Talent Paradigm

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Over the past decade, the advertising and marketing landscape has dramatically evolved thanks to advancements in technology.  And the workforce has changed. Digital has shifted power, creating both challenges and opportunities for today’s employers. Yet as an industry, we continue to rely on tried and trusted methods of attracting, acquiring and retaining talent. 

The new generation is in search of experiences. The way in which they learn, develop and connect is digital. They have need for speed, flexibility and innovation – driven by their always-on mindset. They see their jobs as a reflection of their personality, values and lifestyle. And they expect more from their employers – a sense of purpose and help in managing the balance between their professional and personal lives.   

To attract and retain the very best talent, employers must evolve the way in which they engage and connect with today’s modern workforce; being both authentic and transparent in their communications and approach.  

The industry talks constantly about the need to attract better and more diverse talent, yet the lack of action, or potential lack of courage, to do something different is palpable. It’s time to be more disruptive in our approach if we are to hire and develop the next generation of brilliant people. 


With an ambition to be renowned for changing the face of talent management, MEC set out to disrupt the traditional way of doing things; employing new methods to drive innovation in talent acquisition and retention. 

Within the context of its global talent manifesto, ‘Don’t Just Live. Thrive’, MEC has created a culture where employees feel that there are no barriers to reaching their full potential. It wants to be the company of choice for talented individuals to build a career with MEC. And if they don’t stay for longer than a couple of years, it wants their experience with MEC to be the best of their working lives. With people who grow it would be able to create and deliver award winning work to grow its clients’ businesses. And with people and clients who grow, it can create change in the industry.  

To drive real change, it needed to: 

- Deliver unique and differentiating experiences to potential candidates that create buzz, garner attention, and put MEC in their consideration set – standing out from the cluttered recruiting space (e.g., same day hiring practices; MEC Live Hire, TalentLink Open House) 

- Find new ways of communicating the story and building its brand in a relevant and authentic way (e.g., LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Instagram, Twitter) 

- Attract new and diverse talent to the organisation via being present in unexpected places (e.g., ‘MEC in 360’ Virtual Reality Recruiting at SXSW2016) 

- Improve the candidate experience and lifecycle – from first impression through conversion to hire – always with a focus on engagement (e.g., Work + Family, Apprenticeship Program, Thrive Fund, 100 Day Challenge, Global Sabbatical Policy, Futures Board) 

 - Offer innovative new learning and development opportunities that allow for both personal and professional growth (e.g., Digital Academy, Happiness Workshop, Google@MEC, Improv, Upping Your Elvis, Social Responsibility, Mindfulness) 


Below is a sampling of MEC's 2015-16 efforts: 

‘MEC Live Hire’: Opportunity to disrupt Advertising Week, the premier gathering of the marketing and advertising industry, with the sponsorship of the first-ever Talent Track and a live interview experience in the streets of NYC. This never-before done event included MEC's NA CEO and Global CEO, conducting live behavioral-based interviews in Times Square; resulting in 10 same-day qualified hires. Its success led to MEC Live Hire Apprenticeship at AW Europe (12 hires) and Cannes. 

‘MEC@SXSW’: MEC travelled to Austin, TX in search of the next generation of innovators with the first-of-its-kind virtual reality recruitment experience at the 2016 South By Southwest Festival. The only media agency with a presence at the SXSW job market, it offered 300+ potential candidates a 360 view of life at MEC with VR films viewed using Google Cardboard.    

‘MEC TalentLink’: MEC NY opened its doors to 250+ attendees for an evening event, bringing current and future candidates together to mix and mingle with clients and engage in brand/client experiences in a relaxed atmosphere.   

Social: Took control of conversations on platforms such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter to create a one-to-one dialogue with talent. Piloted a program with LinkedIn – becoming their premiere agency partner -- with new dynamic career pages, recruitment campaigns, live events and targeted content strategy.  

Work + Family: Recognising that its people are more than employees, MEC UK launched a digital resource and benefits programme to help manage talent’s diverse family needs; creating a more balanced workforce. 


MEC’s investment in the talent conversation is driving the industry dialogue, increasing awareness of its Thrive manifesto and culture and generating efficiencies in hiring practices. 

- Hiring rate increased 86% from 2015 
- 15% reduction in time to fill open positions since 2015 
- Increased number of internal referrals, decreased recruiting costs (41.7% reduction in average cost per UK joiner)   
- Increased quality of hires  
- Higher employee engagement 
- Increased “boomerang” employees -- with 75+ returning over a three year period; represent 25% of NA population.  

Glassdoor: Within 1 year, agency sentiment and employee advocacy dramatically shifted:  
 Overall rating: 3.9 (from 3.2)  
 Recommend to a friend: 75% (from 48%) 
 CEO Approval: 96% (from 84%) 
*May2016 vs July2015 

 MEC NA named one of AdAge’s 2015’s ‘50 Best Places to Work”  
 MEC Australia ranks in top ten ‘Best Places to Work’ (100+ employees) 2015 and No. 14 best small/medium workplace 2016 
 MEC UK ranks No. 45 on 2015’s The Sunday Times ‘Best Companies to Work’ list for the 6th year 

 Recognised for innovation in talent acquisition by WSJ, AdAge, Adweek, Campaign, Digiday, M&M Global, among others 
 487+ million impressions from MEC Live Hire; and 3rd performing hashtag behind the main event.

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