From client to agency-side: building effective partnerships grounded in trust


By Kim Dykes

I’m Kim, SMRS’s new Lead Client Partner for Attraction. I’ve spent most of my career in marketing & comms with a large proportion of this time spent specifically in recruitment marketing and employee engagement.

Most recently, I was working in-house as the Attraction Manager for Bupa Care Homes and Richmond Villages. My role spanned everything from early careers to multi-channel social planning and community management, to employee engagement and everything in between.

2020 could probably be described as one of the more difficult times to recruit into care homes; with a long-standing shortage of nurses, Brexit, and the introduction of vaccine mandates – it was a whirlwind to say the least and, it certainly put things into perspective.

My two-and-a-half-year tenure was particularly interesting because, after years spent agency side, I very quickly appreciated why in-house teams may do some of the things they do. It helps me navigate conversations from an agency perspective, with the insider knowledge needed to pre-empt any potential obstacles.

If there’s one thing working client side has taught me, it’s that your agency needs to be your partner and it needs to be a partnership that works both ways.

There must be transparency and an understanding of where value can be added from either side to really accelerate and fine-tune the work that is already happening.

In-house teams have so many internal requests, many of which are reactive – which in turn makes it difficult to plan and champion the long-term work that needs to be done both from an employer brand perspective, and a recruitment marketing perspective. All of which are required to tackle their current recruitment challenges. So how can we add more value?

One example we observe frequently is agencies giving recruiters the tools needed to promote their vacancies on social media – usually in the form of pre-made copy and graphics. While effective in the short-term, once their impact wears off, the recruiter is back at square one.

Yet empower these recruiters with the skills to produce effective, engaging ads themselves, and they will be able to continually generate content that converts under their own steam.

This is the difference between short-term and long-term changes that can make a real impact.

And that’s where honest and open conversations come in. It’s not just about the agency taking your money to sponsor your job on Indeed or recommending which job board will help in the here and now. It’s about looking to the future together and finding out what we can do to support you with the specialist knowledge we have.

There are so many ways to reach your audience now, yet it feels like it’s harder than ever before. I’m enjoying working with specialists across the agency from all different types of activation and targeting ideas through to creative that will be able cut through all the recruitment noise. All of which are helping equip me for bigger, better conversations around talent attraction moving into 2022.