Why building a strong creative team calls for brutal self-reflection

Dan Crowder, founder at recruitment agency Craft, says design leaders should ask themselves tough questions before even thinking about hiring

As we move forward into 2024, competition for top creative talent remains fierce. You might be surprised to hear me (a design recruitment agency owner) encourage the idea that building – and keeping – a strong team doesn’t start with recruitment. Rather, it’s about knowing who you are as an agency, and letting that distinctiveness drive everything you do.

Agencies are experts in discovering what makes brands tick, pushing them to consider what they really stand for so they can drive a powerful and ultimately commercially-successful identity – but they often skip this step for themselves.

This starts with being transparent about why you’re recruiting and the business issues you’re facing. Nobody hires at the top levels without a real problem that needs solving. When we’re briefed to fill C-suite positions, reasons range from a desire to break into a new market, to working against a negative perception in the marketplace, growing a new service line, or a re-organisation of the leadership team. We don’t tend to hear the same level of honesty where mid-senior roles are concerned.