Client Side vs Agency: Part 2
A few years back I wrote a blog on the differences or rather pro’s and cons between client-side and agency. If I didn’t hear at least one candidate say that they wanted to move over to client side from agency life, every day, then it wasn’t a normal day. It seemed as if the whole digital industry was under some sort of spell or as if “client-side” was a new fashion statement or trend. Many of the candidates who wanted to make the move over, didn’t fully understand or realize why they wanted to go client side, it was just a statement and was what everyone else in the industry was doing. I would often ask candidates why they were interested in moving over to client-side. The answers were as simple as “I’ve heard that its just a better environment, or the hours are standard, 9:00 to 5:00 pm”.
I completely understand someone who has been in the digital/advertising industry for 5 plus years and wants to make the move from agency to client side. I assume that by that time they would’ve worked with their clients/brands enough to get an idea of what could be expected. Client side and agency are two completely different worlds. I have not worked directly in a digital/creative agency, but I have recruited for both and for the last decade and had a taste of the corporate world. And in my digital recruitment career, have probably met close to a million candidates.
The majority of my interviews have been agency peeps and as we all know, the staff turnover is generally a lot higher with the agency than agency side. Having said that though, many of the people I interview are looking to move to gain experience with different brands. If that’s what you want in your digital career, then client side might not be the best option for you. Agency life is known to be extremely fast paced, which includes working on a bunch of exciting and different brands, where client side you will in most cases, be working on only the one brand.
Agency is a lot more creative than client side, both with the work you produce as well as the way you dress, speak and interact. Are you a jeans and t-shirt kinda guy? Or a suit pants and shirt, with occasional tie kinda guy? Of course there are many perks working client side. Your salary will normally be higher, your days will start and end pretty much the same time everyday, long creative think tank workshops won’t really be a thing and you will be able to chop and change your brief requirements with your agency as much you like (we all know how much fun that is). However, you would most probably lose touch with your creative side and would be just a number in a massive ship with processes and rules and would need to get use to stuff taking a lifetime to be signed off or approved.
All this client side talk might not sound appealing to you, but to many, it will sound like the perfect opportunity. Someone who loves routine, strict processes, paperwork, and check-in cards (with a little bit of OCD) would fit in perfectly with this type of company.
Agency and client side are a lot like the left and right side of the brain, you are either really creative and prefer images or text, or you are very process orientated, love to have meetings about meetings, enjoy setting your suits out for the whole week and have reminders set for just about everything.
Agency can be cut throat at times, well a lot of the time. It can cut you up and spit you out. It can turn you into an acute alcoholic or send you straight to anger management or stress release classes, but it can be so rewarding that it makes it so worth it. So working with a team of brilliant creative geniuses on a project, and achieving the best work is the biggest and best reward. Being able to say “I did that”.
A good salary and getting free lunches at the canteen is awesome, but it will only be and initial excitement. Building a brand up, or creating an ad from scratch is life-changing and forever.
I guess the real answer to client side vs. agency would completely depend on you! Are you a left or right side of the brain person? Do you enjoy pressure or do you prefer similar routines every day? Do you flip flops or smart shoes? Do you want to create the ideas or just listen to them? a giver or a taker (just kidding).
Both sides have equal highs and lows, both could be your next best career move, so I’d think seriously about why you want to make the move and really ask yourself “who am I?”
Martin is a running enthusiast with a Comrades Marathon in him (or two). Prior to co-founding Talent Magnet, he worked in Human Resources at Old Mutual and looked after HR initiatives across the unit. Martin studied at the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Reading and has an innate understanding of the digital landscape.