Getting a job

Someone sent me an email last week asking if I could do a post about getting a job in advertising.

Well, I don’t think things have changed much, have they?

I have no idea about the other departments, but I imagine that aspiring creatives still have to find a partner, put a portfolio together, get it under the nose of whoever sorts out the placements, impress them, get a placement, impress whoever does the hiring (almost certainly the ECD) when they can afford to hire you, and that’s it.

Simple, eh?

Then what? If you want another job, you either have to engineer your own move or wait for someone to come in for you. This might involve a headhunter; it might not, but again, you’re going to have to impress the person doing the hiring at the point at which he can hire you. The difference is that at this stage you’ll need some actual made work to show what you can do. I think this may be part of the reason for lower wages these days: the UK work of the last few years has been at an all-time low, creatively speaking, so the vast majority of people looking for a job with 2007-2011 work in their books won’t have much good stuff to show. But maybe ECDs have realigned their expectations and now require less great stuff from their prospective hires.

When it comes to senior hirings, it can come down to client and category experience as much as great work (which ought to be a given, but actually isn’t. Client friendliness can occur many miles away from a D&AD annual). If you’ve CD-ed a great petcare account somewhere then that would be a big help in getting a job as a petcare account CD. If you’ve spent a long time on Motorola that might help you get a job on Nokia etc.

But often it also comes down to relationships. By the time you’ve become a senior creative, you will have spent quite a while in the industry; long enough to have met and worked with a lot of other people in senior positions (this is a good reason to avoid being an arsehole to people during your younger years – you never know which squitty account guy is going to become the next MD of a large, loaded agency). So when a friend of a friend hears about a job that might suit you, he may also be in a position to mention you to MD bloke who remembers you from that piss-up in Cannes back in 2004 where you hilariously ended up in hospital after molesting the pool pump at the Rushes Villa.

So those are some of the ways in which you can get a job as a creative/CD in advertising. Good luck if you’re looking.

I do find this spookily topical, as I have just this week found myself a really quite excellent job (thanks to everyone who had me in for freelance, as well as Daryl, Steve, Adam, Kurt and the many other occasional partners from whose skills I benefitted. It was (usually) a great experience, and even if the agency was surprisingly awful, there were always people around who made the days go by very enjoyably). I am going to be the joint CD of Media Arts Lab in London, and I am looking forward to it to the same extent that I looked forward to Christmas 1985 and that remote controlled jeep with the yellow go faster stripes.

Unfortunately, the agency is bound in great secrecy, so I can’t really say more than that, but I start in a week’s time and fully expect it to be tear-inducingly brilliant.