The growth of in-house agencies (IHAs) is on the rise and so too are the reasons talent are interested in either staying in or making the leap to working in-house by accepting that in-house job offer. Long gone are the days when working in a corporate creative department was akin to selling out or considered as heading down a dead-end career path. With the rise of high performing IHAs in companies like Apple, Verizon, The Gap and Target, creatives can now work in organizations that value and promote great creative work.
I remember recently speaking with an Associate Creative Director who had just made the jump from external agency to in-house. He related to me that when he told his colleagues that he was going to work at a corporation, rather than him being berated for it, his peers asked him if he could get them a job at the IHA he was joining. There are a number of circumstances driving this shift some of which are surprising. Here are 12 reasons to take that in-house job offer.
Creative Careers Start Here
The downside of agencies
1. External agencies are being squeezed by clients and then so are their staff
Agency budgets are now being challenged by business-savvy client companies. With Procurement taking a greater role in securing creative services, the days of blanket POs and huge retainers are now a thing of the past. This means that agencies need to squeeze every last ounce of productivity and billability from their talent. Even more than before, agency staff are expected to work late nights and weekends not just to meet challenging client deadlines, but to also stay highly utilized to the point where creatives are at rates of above 100%.
2. Work is shrinking for agencies so it’s getting pretty dicey out there
There is also less work for agencies as companies bring creative in-house. It’s now a much tighter market for creatives looking for work in agencies. This further exacerbates the already competitive environment within agencies where the culture can get pretty cutthroat.
3. Client expectations are on the rise and so are late nights at work
Then there’s the usual contributors to agency burnout of having to constantly engage in client pitches, having to jump through hoops to meet unreasonable client expectations and dealing with creative prima donnas who are, but likely shouldn’t be, managing teams of creatives.
The upside of in-house creative teams
4. There’s talented folks to work with at IHAs
There are a number of myths about working in-house that were either never true or are no longer true. One of the biggest ones is that the creatives working in IHAs aren’t as talented as those toiling away at external agencies. In the staffing business at Cella, we’ve seen a marked rise in A-team talent who are opting for in-house gigs. The professionals we tap into for in-house jobs are the same ones who are or have been working at agencies.
5. Quality in-house talent equals quality work
Higher caliber talent drives the quality of creative output which has risen as well. Check out any industry awards competition to view in-house creative on par with external agency work. This means more opportunities for IHA staff to jump on exciting assignments that in the past had gone to external agencies.
6. IHAs provide opportunities to work on a variety of creative deliverables
Another big myth to bust is that the work in-house teams engage in is boring and monotonous. Far from it. In our most recent in-house industry report, Cella found that in-house teams take on a wide range of print, digital and even video projects to be pushed out on a variety of platforms. And the org structures back that up, with positions as varied as UX/UI/CX roles to art and creative directors to copywriters, content managers and social media positions.
7. There’s plenty of brand variety in in-house
Companies also generally have multiple brands, products and services they offer, all in need of marketing creative. As a result, in-house teams have a variety of assignments each with unique audiences, platforms and messaging that they get to work on. The final creative can vary widely from one project to the next.
8. In-house provides secure job opportunities and career growth
While job security is never an absolute given, larger companies are more stable than agencies who need to quickly shed workers when they lose an account. Working in-house usually means working at an organization with a solid financial foundation and a respect for its employees backed by robust HR policies. They often have the ability to underwrite the cost of training and invest in their employees’ professional development. And being part of a large organization means there’s more opportunity to leverage that training and go after higher-level job opportunities.
9. Work-life balance does exist
It’s true that companies are asking for more commitment of their staff, but nothing that rivals the demands made by external agencies. There’s generally an inherent value placed on and respect for employees that shows up as a focus on employee well-being.
10. Become a valued consultant and strategic partner
More and more, IHAs are positioning themselves as centers of excellence. This has opened the door for them to participate as true strategic partners with a say in marketing and creative strategy that agencies rarely have access to. Working in-house now means that IHAs are strategic consultants often acting as liaisons between clients and external agencies with the opportunity to add creative insights and advice on major marketing initiatives.
11. In-house offers fringe benefits that aren’t so fringe anymore
Though unemployment has risen, the need for good creative talent remains a challenge and companies are now offering perks to attract creative professionals. Flexible work hours, work from home, well-designed workspace and cutting-edge hardware and software are a few of the benefits that companies are making available to bring great talent into their IHAs.
12. The regular benefits are pretty good too
Finally, most large companies are able to offer robust benefits including 401Ks with matching contributions, generous health care plans and bonuses. Add that to job security and career-pathing opportunities previously mentioned and you have a package of benefits that can make that in-house gig the best fit for you.
While there will always be unique benefits to working in an external agency, companies have closed the gap on opportunities they can provide creative professionals when compared with agencies. Depending on your goals and lifestyle needs and desires, working in-house may very well be the job offer to accept.