When working in digital – be it marketing, design, or tech – there’s one big decision you need to make in your career: do you want to work in an agency or client-side?
Many people “pick a side” and stick to it throughout their career. Depending on your strengths and interests, you can be better suited for agency life or an in-house office environment. But, if you’re flexible and curious about whether a change from one to the other could be for you, then read on! We have put together some of the key pros and cons between client-side and agency below.
Client-side: Working in-house historically always meant your days were 9 to 5. In the digital space, these hours can be longer. The internet never sleeps so if your brand’s website goes offline or there’s a crisis on your social media channels, you may have to be more flexible with your working hours.
Agency: As work-life balance is an important factor to employees, agencies are starting to ensure their staff don’t work themselves into the ground. While there certainly can be long hours involved in order to hit those all-important deadlines, it’s becoming increasingly less common on a day-to-day basis.
Client-side: In the majority of cases working in-house could get you a marginally higher salary than you’d receive in an agency, and the big firms can also offer some pretty comprehensive benefits for you and your family.
Agency: Recently however, agencies are fighting back with competitive salaries and unique benefits to cater to individuals in order to get that work-life balance back in check.
Client-side: Working for one company means really getting under the skin of one particular brand/product. You get to dive into one particular industry, meaning you will become a real specialist and expert of your chosen field.
Agency: Here, you’ll likely be responsible for looking after multiple clients, representing a variety of brands and working across a multitude of industries. You’ll develop a range of skills, gain a variety of insights and build up a diverse portfolio that is continuously interesting.
Client-side: You are continuously having to come up with new ideas to develop your brand. You need to manage internal relationships as well as those with external agencies your company may use for outsourced work on larger projects. Having patience and great communication skills are key!
Agency: It’s fast, frenetic and high pressured with many projects running simultaneously. Being able to establish good client relationships is an important part of working in an agency. This means both bringing new clients on board through new business development and ensuring your existing clients are happy with your work. Strong multitasking skills and the ability to keep calm are essential.
Client-side: There is typically more structure and clear objectives for promotion in-house. Annual reviews are typical periods for progression and the ability to work at different site locations or internationally is a very real opportunity in many organisations.
Agency: Very much a more meritocratic environment. If you are great at what you do and this is recognised, the fluid/entrepreneurial nature of agency life means that career development can be progressed rapidly and really demonstrate your worth to the business.
Client-side: Some consultancies are still fairly corporate, but modern day businesses are adapting and the company culture is becoming increasingly more relaxed and casual. Working client-side no longer means a very corporate office environment for all.
Agency: The office environment in agencies is typically work hard, play hard. Fast and pressured but fun at the same time – what’s not to love? You’ll likely work in an open-plan office and have access to the likes of ping pong tables, gaming consoles, or other entertainment to take the edge off during your lunch or after hours.
Client-side and agency are becoming increasingly more comparable, especially within digital. The main decision you will need to make is whether you want to work for one brand in one industry or across multiple brands in different industries. We must of course point out that the above is not gospel and the very nature of the disruptive digital marketplace means that companies are continuously looking to break outside of the norm. These are just some of the experiences we have encountered placing the very best digital talent across both client-side and agency side.
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