The realities of attracting creative talent in Malaysia

It is widely acknowledged in the ever-changing world of employment that millennials are as hard a crowd to reach out to.

Never before has the world seen a generation that values curiosity, empowerment, self-sufficiency and the power to make a telling contribution not just to themselves but also to the world that they live in.

Flexibility and an appetite to source and carve out their own opportunities appear to take precedence over the traditional hierarchy of needs such as salary, a stable and structured job scope. As the most educated, globally minded and intellectually exposed generation to-date, job opportunities are in abundance for them and if there are non that suit them, they simply create roles for themselves.

In today’s world of start-ups and the growth in parties willing to invest, young job seeking Malaysians naturally gravitate towards the current trend that inspires autonomy and the promise of potentially building the next MyTeksi/Grabcar or SoftSpace. Professions such as the fields of medicine, law or engineering will always have their place amongst the young as the aspirational draw of such careers which have and always will form the bedrock of the society we live in will never wane.

(Read also: Does advertising need PR to attract talent?)

The industry on the other hand, which has for the past half decade seen a wane in interest, has largely been the creative industry. The glory days as depicted on the smash hit series Mad Men riding through to the 1990’s that attracted young job seekers from all walks of life seem well and truly over.

The industry was built on the promise of something dynamic, imaginative, sexy and one where there was a sense of adventure. Young ad executives in brand strategy, creative or account management were driven by the outcome of having their brainchild up in lights on a large billboard, a television commercial or a print ad where their creativity and inspiration would be immortalised in popular media, consumed by millions of watching eyes.

The exposure garnered from working with diverse and brilliant individuals captured the attention of individuals of whom had next to no background in advertising itself. The professional growth obtained in an advertising agency would then serve them well in molding a well-rounded, strategically and operationally capable individual often paving the way to a high-powered C-level position in an MNC.

While advertising professionals recognise that the same truth still holds in today’s digital age, as far as the lure of the advertising agency as a career option, it has somehow lost its luster amongst millennials.  Added to the perception of being an industry that demands long working hours, subservience to clients and upper management not to mention high degrees of stress, advertising has severely suffered an enormous slight on its reputation.

While the downsides of the job are by no means exaggerated, here at Naga DDB our vision as an agency is to revitalise and demonstrate to millennials that the qualities they seek at start-ups or any other job for that matter, exist and are in actuality; extremely prevalent in an advertising agency.

The writer is Kristian Lee (pictured), business development director of Naga DDB.