Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last in, First out?

I have been asked this question enough times that it warrants a post. When an agency downsizes, is the last person hired always the first person let go? A lot of juniors worry about this. At that level, they really shouldn't, but everyone knows Advertising has the reputation (rightly so) of being unstable and so they ask. Accounts jump often enough that job security in the Ad industry is an oxymoron.

From my experience in letting people go, the last hired is not usually an indicator of who gets cut. Many, many factors go into this process. And, yes, it is a long, painfully hard process to decide on who is let go when the economy forces a downsize. To start, we look at skill set (what you know how to do), how much money you make (to have the biggest financial impact with the least amount of people), and how versatile you are on other accounts or in other mediums. We may consider your hire date, but certainly not exclusively.

If you bring some great creative chops to the table, if you are making an entry level salary and are experienced in more than one medium (say digital and print), chances are you'd be one of the last folks I'd consider letting go.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Swiss Model

We just interviewed a young art director who recently moved to California from Switzerland. Her book is pretty amazing and, when she ultimately puts her portfolio online, I will post it here for you to look at.

She has been in advertising a mere 5 years and has shortlisted at Cannes. Need I say more? If you saw her work you'd expect her to be older and certainly more experienced than she actually is.

During the interview, she described her schooling in Switzerland. You'll all be jealous and wish you were Swiss after hearing this. And no wonder her book is so incredibly strong. In Switzerland, at her particular Ad School, you attend classes 2 days a week and you work at an agency the other 3. Every week for 3 years. So essentially, when she graduated she had 3 years experience at a big name agency. It's kind of like ad school in dog years.

Why not a school like that here in the US? Partner with an agency, give them loads of intern/junior level talent (beyond the 16 hrs a week for 8 weeks in summer help that we are all used to) and graduate talent with a big, Swiss leg up on the competition.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Up to a Point

When you phone an agency Creative Manager and - by some stroke of sheer luck - get them in person, make sure you have thought out what you'd like to ask them. I can tell you I rarely answer my phone if I don't recognize the number and consider my time pretty scarce when I do.

So a few days ago when I randomly picked up to an unfamiliar number and realized it was a candidate cold call, I thought I'd be answering fairly quick questions (are you hiring? can I send you my book?). What I got was a young guy who is currently "in film," and aspires to be a copywriter. I asked him if he had a portfolio he could send me, which he didn't. Over the next 15 minutes, he and I talked about the different routes he could take to ultimately create a portfolio and somehow break into copywriting.

Now, mind you, I LOVE this part of my job. I love helping entry-level talent find a way into advertising. That's why I teach. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than this part of my job. We talked about Bookshop. We talked about internships. We talked about using his film background as a way in the door. All sorts of things. I was feeling quite proud of myself for spending so much time on the phone with this guy, taking the time to help him chart his way.

We then started to talk about him possibly freelancing as a film editor as a way to earn money while pursuing his writing. I suggested Aquent or 24/7 or some other creative staffing service that he could contact. My pride and personal happiness screeched to a halt here when he asked me if I had their phone numbers. "Dude. Google," was all I could answer.

Up to a point I can offer career advice. Help you chart the waters. Answer industry questions. Up to a point. but asking me for Aquent's phone number is just about when I have to hang up and start screening my calls again.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

One I like right now

This book from a Jr. Art Director in Brazil is a good example of what I look for in range of ideas. I like that he stays away from the standard "photo + headline" layout with his Gendai and Lonely Planet pieces. I like that he shows his thinking in unique media placements with his NRDC and Money Gram work.

His resume isn't on his site, but I was impressed by that as well. It shows he is well traveled and well schooled. He has also won some outstanding awards.

All those things together make him an interesting junior candidate, despite what might be a tiny distance problem.