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Agency or in-house.... Better the devil you know?

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Marketing recruitment is a minefield of opportunity, and with marketing expanding into so many areas and different skillsets, the number of roles out there waiting to be filled is at an all-time high. Particularly for those candidates who boast technology and digital know-how and experience, marketing can open up a load of career doors – and can place them in roles where their skills are not only desired but highly sought after. 

So, for those with the skills required to go far in their career, where should they go?

Are their talents best placed in a marketing agency working with a multitude of businesses and improving operations for a wider scale of projects, or is it better to channel all that knowledge and energy into boosting the business messaging and marketing of a single organisation?

The advantages of working with a marketing agency

Whenever a company or organisation reaches out to a marketing agency, the implication is that they know they need to up their game in order to continue to grow and expand. With marketing branching out into more areas than ever before, and with technology playing such a big part in the growth of digital marketing in particular, the opportunities for those working within these marketing agencies is huge – both in the scope of work they get to be involved in and complete, and in the variety of tools and processes they get the chance to work with. 

Another great advantage of working with a marketing agency is the daily immersion within the world of marketing – which often means that as a marketer, you are exposed to the latest trends and the most exciting new projects on the market. 

Surrounding yourself with other top level marketers, albeit with different skillsets and specialisms, means that you have the chance to learn and work surrounded by the best – which can present a real boost for candidates looking to further their development and growth in a certain industry or area of marketing. 

Some other advantages heralded by marketing agency marketers include

  • The constant exposure to networking, with colleagues often becoming future contacts and networking opportunities.
  • A creative environment. Environment and work culture is becoming more and more important for candidates, with marketing agencies renowned for being some of the most fast-paced and creative workspaces out there. 
  • If you thrive on working hard and working fast, a marketing agency is a place where you could thrive. 


Of course, as with any job role, there are challenges that arise with working for an agency. For one thing, workloads can be inconsistent, and a candidate may find themselves placed on a series of less interesting projects while seeing those around them placed on exciting and innovative tasks. When you work for an agency, you have no control over the clients you end up working with – instead, you are brought in as an expert and become the product that a client business “buys”; placed on a series of client projects depending on your specific skillset and knowledge. 

Why working within a single organisation can be better for some candidates

For those who want to pursue a career in marketing but don’t get put onto an agency role, the alternative step is to land a role within the marketing team of a specific organisation or company. While this removes the diversity of work and variety of opportunities you get from surrounding yourself with likeminded people, what it does do is give you a single business or project which you can really get your teeth into and commit to completely. 

Those who work in the marketing team of a distinct organisation tend to find that the single-business approach helps them focus and really immerse themselves in every corner of the business offering, making them able to deliver efficient and effective messages at the click of a button. All this comes because they have the chance to become an integral part of the business and get to know the target audience inside out. 

Another reason why candidates often prefer to look for jobs in specific companies and organisations, is that they have tried working for agencies in the past and found it didn’t work out. This tends to relate closely with a broken down working culture between the agency and the candidate, but from a marketing recruitment angle can damage the candidates view of all marketing agencies relating to future job roles.

Some other angles which lean towards marketing teams rather than agencies, include the ease of communication within a single organisational team, and the transition of messages between different touchpoints of the business. Both of these advantages touch on the huge importance of marketing in ensuring that every touchpoint of the business is working together, and from a marketer’s point of view it can be much easier to work from within the team itself in order to get the information they need when they need it, without going through various communication channels. 

To turn the tables, while working in a team presents a specific goal and is ideal for those looking to get their teeth into something they can really build and grow over time, working within a marketing team does remove the variety of the role – with candidates typically leaving internal roles much quicker than if they had taken on a role at an agency.

The Takeaway

As a marketing recruitment agency, recruiting for in-house teams and agencies requires an understanding of the candidate’s priorities and work-life preferences, as well as a distinct exploration of the job role and work involved. Choosing between the two is a personal decision that should be led by the candidate, based on their goals as a marketing professional and where and how they see their career progressing.