Talent Zoo touts themselves at the top site for advertising, marketing, and digital professionals, and according to Google, they're right: The site is the top-listed inorganic search result in an industry known for extreme competition.
For more than a decade, the site has provided an eclectic mix of articles, blogs, and résumé services and featured job postings from the industry's top companies, including Disney, NBC, TWBA/Chiat/Day, Best Buy, Bose, Loreal, Dell, and others.
Talent Zoo sends job opportunities to nearly 150,000 industry professionals weekly and has been recognized on Forbes' "Best of the Web."
Personally, I love Talent Zoo, and if you're thinking that I have to say this because I write for the several of the site's blogs, you're wrong.
I'm not an employee and live in Chicago. Talent Zoo isn't an agency, and the company is headquartered in Atlanta. I've never seen nor met Rick Myers, Talent Zoo's founder and CEO. I follow him on Twitter (@RickM) and send him an occasional tweet, but that's the extent of our conversation. I've never met Amy Hoover, EVP, either.
It started this way: After I was laid off in March 2009, I was frustrated from beating my head against the wall trying to find a job. My résumé was posted on Talent Zoo, and while on the site, I came across a call for writers in the industry and here I am.
While writing one day, I experienced one of those light-bulb moments: The Web site I used on a daily basis for news, information, content, industry trends, job searches, and salary information had never been part of my consideration for a blog post.
I contacted Talent Zoo and was able to ask Amy Hoover, the company's executive vice president, a few questions about the industry, the company, and the future of both.
Beyond Madison Avenue: What is your official title? How long have you been with the company? How many peeps does Talent Zoo currently employ?
Amy Hoover: I'm officially executive vice president and partner. I've been with Talent Zoo for 12 years in a variety of roles: recruiter, recruiting director, job board operator, and managing partner. At this time, our team consists largely of freelancers and contractors in a variety of roles across the country. The number can vary largely from month to month, depending on the projects we need.
BMA: Did you come to Talent Zoo with a human resources or advertising background?
AH: I actually came from a recruiting background, [not HR] and learned the ad business from my partner, Rick, who was a copywriter before he founded Talent Zoo.
BMA: Despite everyone saying the economy is recovering, ad agencies are still shedding jobs. Do you know the current industry unemployment rate?
AH: I can't say with any certainty what the entire industry unemployment rate is (I doubt anyone truly can), but I did see a significant uptick in job postings at the end of 2009, which makes me hopeful that there will be a lot more hires made in 2010. Agencies will always shed jobs when they lose accounts, and I think you'll see that's the case this in 2010 as well, but there won't be much more recalibrating due to lower revenues (i.e., layoffs to reduce payroll).
BMA: Do you think the ad industry is recovering? What does your crystal ball tell you?
AH: There will be significantly fewer unemployed folks at the end of 2010 than now; I have definitely seen more hires already, but we have a long way to go. Just remember that you may not have the same job you did in 2008. Be ready for change and to compromise.
BMA: Have you noticed any trends you see that can help applicants prepare themselves for 'big' interviews? Do you think that skill diversity is desirable (a background in media/creative or PR and account service), or does it fragment the strength of each area?
AH: Most big agencies still prefer someone with deep experience in one discipline. They don't seem to know what to do with someone who's worn 'many hats.' Small shops and start-ups usually see the benefit in someone who can bring more than one skill set to the table.
BMA: Where do you think the industry is headed? Do you think print will die? Do you think that social media will replace public relations firms?
AH: The industry is already headed to its future, and it's integrated campaigns with a heavy online and social media presence. Print won't likely die, at least not this decade anyway, it will just remain in the backseat. PR firms are probably safe -- so long as they have social media experts on staff.
BMA: What is your advice to a high-school student preparing to study for a career in advertising?
AH: There are only a handful of undergraduate programs out there that really prepare you for the industry. It's likely you're not going to one of them, so be ready to feel completely unprepared in your first job.
BMA: Talent Zoo has recently made some big changes to its site. Will more amenities be added? Is this a sign of company growth?
AH: Thanks for noticing the changes. Yes, we have more changes and improvements planned for the site and its content in 2010. They're still top secret, but you can expect to see some new changes rolling by the second quarter. And, yes, we'll likely grow as a company. Talent Zoo's essentially become virtual, so our team will remain scattered. Our operations are pretty lean, which allows flexibility and the introduction of new things.
BMA: Everyone seems to hold Rick Myers in high regard. What's he like in the work environment? Is he a tyrant or a pussycat?
AH: No comment. I think 12 years of working together says it all.
If you're searching for a new gig, check out Talent Zoo's services. To find out what's going on with Talent Zoo, Rick Myers, or Amy Hoover, follow them on Twitter: @TalentZoo, @RickM , and @Tzamy.