Thursday, December 23, 2010

Year in Review

Nearing the end of a year always means a collection of year-end lists. Best Ads of 2010, Worst Dressed of 2010, Top Tweets of 2010 and, the one I am certain everyone looks forward to, Top Advice from a Creative Recruiter of 2010.

1. Don't take credit for someone else's creative work.

2. Beware what you say in an exit interview.

3. You as a person is just as important as you as a creative.

4. Link your portfolio to your LinkedIn profile. Please.

5. Know when to move on.

6. You will run into that A-hole again. Be nice.

7. There just might be more to life than a job in advertising. Just might.

Enjoy my year in review and have a wonderful holiday.
Cecilia Gorman

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Remember This?

Behold the phone.

Remember when this was our primary means of communication? We actually picked up the phone and called people when we needed to say something. We'd chat and laugh and share stories. We'd spend a few minutes getting to know one another, do a little business, then make up a good excuse to hang up. All was good back then.

Today we all seem to be overly inundated with texts, IMs, emails, LinkedIn messages, and Facebook posts. Electronica killed the Phone-ica star. It is just faster and easier to type and text than it is to make a phone call. Yet easier and faster shouldn't justify the end of personal human connections.

In the last week, two people cold called me out of the blue. And I have to say, it was so nice.

One, a local designer I didn't know and two, a junior art director from Humber College. Both said they were in the middle of typing me a note when they thought "why not call?"

It makes you forget how nice a simple human connection is until you get people saying they chose calling over writing. It also makes you feel a bit special that they chose to call you over write you. Next time you have the choice (and the time), pick up the phone. Establishing a new business relationship hearing someone's voice makes a difference. You can text and type all you want from there on out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

(Capital D) Don't

I am very trusting, especially when it comes to portfolios. If you are showing me your book and there's a load of work inside, I assume it is yours. I trust it is yours. Why would I doubt otherwise?

Am I too trusting? Are there recruiters out there who keep an ounce of doubt wondering whether every piece inside is actually truly that persons? I never, ever would have thought so.

Until today.

There is a crazy story circling the internet today about a not-at-all-junior creative who has be outed for putting creative work he did not do on his portfolio site. Un-capital B-believeable.

Lots of thoughts are swirling through my mind:
     why in the heck would someone do this?
     have I been looking at bogus work from other people?
     how will I ever know what is truly legit or not?
     how many other people do this?
     why in the heck would someone do this?

Guys, this is never, never, never ok.

First, let's just say you get hired off a bogus portfolio. Day one on the job you'll have to prove your creative chops and when you come up short, you'll be found out anyway.

Second, let's say someone finds out (a la not-so-junior-creative referenced above). And not just someone, a large portion of the advertising community finds out. Well, you can kiss your reputation and hire-ability goodbye. And I will tell you, that is never going to be worth it.

Some advice: Be very clear on attributing who else worked on the pieces in your book. Be very clear about your role on the work. Be clear about what is your original idea and what is not. Be clear about whether you worked fulltime versus freelanced. Be clear on your title and role. Be clear about your salary (that's a whole other blog post by the way).

Be clear. Be clear. Be clear. And, god forbid, do not steal another person's creative work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Work that doesn't suck

I found this website today, called Student Ad Finds, "Student Ads From Around The World That Don't Suck." Love it.

What a great place to see student work from around the world. Make sure to send yours in for consideration. I know I will be coming back frequently to discover new talent and schools I don't know about yet (Humber College for example).

I wonder, do other recruiters know about this site? Shhhhhhhh.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mix it up

With regard to creative portfolios, I try to express the virtues of being just a bit different in order to stand out. For you, it helps to establish a bit of differentiation from the next candidate. For me, it breaks up the monotony of looking at a billion books.

Kudos to Nick Ciffone for providing something just a bit left of an ordinary portfolio website. Nick sent me a link to his YouTube page, his entire book presented via couple of short videos. 

First, it is always fun to see someone's face in person and hear them talk. You can't really do that unless you have an in-person interview or chat with them over the phone. Very helpful to get a glimpse of Nick without all the hassle of setting up a meeting. Next, I was able to sit and "watch" his portfolio without having to click through pieces and parts. 

I appreciate the short explanation of the work, the music and seeing the visuals scroll before me. Refreshing format, which I am sure a lot of recruiters like me appreciate.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Miami Ad School or the Creative Circus

One of the cool things about writing this blog, is the techno, back-end information I get from the analytics. It shows me how may people read my blog each day. Or should I say how many people land on my blog each day, whether they read it or click right off is also something the analytics shows me.

My curiosity always gets the best of me, and I will look to see where people are coming from to find my blog. I can see if they were referred by another website, who was kind enough to link to me. I can also see what word or phrase they typed into Google, which is often pretty funny.

Here are the kinds of things people type in and get my blog as a return:

how much money do creative directors make
is advertising a good career
friendly reminder email recruiters
how many creatives are in miami (apparently, I might know)
creative directors who suck (this one made me chuckle)
should I use a recruiter

And then, someone did this search: "Miami Ad School or the Creative Circus?"

It is this exact question that helped me decide to open my new company, which offers college counseling to students choosing an advertising or design school. There are so many good schools out there, how in the world can you figure out the differences (without using google)?

Differences like:
Do you want to pay $30,000 or $60,000 or $90,000 or $120,000?
Do you want to go 1 year, 2 years, 3 years or 4?
How up to date is their curriculum?
How supportive are their placement services to help you land a job upon graduation?
Where does the school get their instructors from?
What is their industry reputation?
Are they winning awards?
Is the campus progressive with its curriculum and technology?
Does the city and campus reflect and support creativity?
Will you feel connected and comfortable at the campus?
Do you want a big city experience or a small, home town one?
Is international travel something you want to do?
What are the chances you won't be able to get an internship?
Do they reject anyone at all?
What is the quality of the portfolios from their graduates?
What do creative recruiters really think of portfolios from their school?
What do current instructors have to say about the school?
What do current students have to say?
What do former instructors and students have to say?
Are these testimonials non-biased or are they being filtered by the school?
Will the tuition you spend be proportionate to the value you get upon graduating?

I could go on a lot longer with the types of questions you should ask when considering a school. And nearly 100% of all schools will give you the answers to these questions on their own website or via an admissions counselor.

But, I caution you to look deeper before you make a final decision on a school.

Make sure you are getting at least some of the information you want about a school NOT from the school itself. All schools will tell you how great they are, but you really need to back that up with non-biased information, from someone not associated with the school.

Next time you feel the need to google "this school or that school," click here first.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Art of Non-Conformity

I discovered a cool website this morning called The Art of Non-Conformity; it "chronicles how to change the world by achieving significant personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs, they focus on three areas: Life, Work, and Travel. "

How cool is that? I immediately signed up for their e-newsletter. I am a big preacher of learning to go against conventional beliefs, especially as it helps stretch and grow your creativity and your ability to concept an idea. Unconventional routes usually lead to unconventional creative ideas.

Below are parts of welcome email I got right after I signed up.


Hi Cecilia,

It looks like we've recently met. You came to the AONC site, took a look around, and decided to give me your trust. The trust commitment came in the form of your email address, and now I have the responsibility to fulfill my obligation:

To tell you how to change the world. . .

. . . If you've always thought there must be more to life, if you want to do something different, if you're interested in finding your own way or you've already charted the course, you're who I'm writing for.

I'm interested in questioning assumptions and expectations about how we live our lives, and I write for remarkable people all over the world. To be remarkable means:

* You're interested in life as a series of adventures, not just something we do to fill the time

* You complete your education (high school, college, university, graduate school, whatever) because you want to, not because you feel like you should

* You do work you enjoy that also makes a positive difference in other people's lives

* Helping others is not something you do as an afterthought. It is a central part of who you are, just as doing what you want is. If you want to change the world, you'll need to start with a major decision.

The decision is deceptively simple: begin making your own choices, and stand out from many of the people around you. It's simple because that's really all there is to it -- think for yourself instead of following the crowd, then begin to take actions to align what you do with what you believe.

It's deceptive, however, because whenever you begin to do this, you'll encounter more than your share of opposition from people who want you to do things their way. Some of them will say your ideas or goals are unrealistic. I say, "life is short." Finding a way to do what we want while also helping others is the most important work we can do.

I say, AMEN to that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting more involved

I came across a recent interview of Luke Sullivan on The Big Orange Slide. Luke’s Group Creative Director of GSD&M Advertising in Austin, Texas and author of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A guide to creating great ads (one of my all-time fav books for students!).

I love his answer to this question - From a career perspective, what’s the importance of making intangible cultural contributions to an agency?

"Pretty interesting question. To get ahead in this business, you need to contribute to the agency by doing great work. But you can also contribute by being a helpful and involved company person. That means caring about more than just the ads you’re workin’ on, but caring about the company itself. You can contribute by raising your hand to help with new business. Or by picking up the empty pop bottle by the front door. Or helping with the agency web site or agency blog. All things being equal creatively, management at your agency is gonna notice someone who’s involved over a cube dweller."

Wow. Contribute by being helpful. As in picking up the empty pop bottle by the front door. I love the simplicity of this advice. It reminds us that our existence in an agency goes beyond creative abilities or our official job description.

This hit a chord with me because I am constantly picking up used paper towels in our agency bathroom. It's like I am the only person who sees them there. Or maybe just someone who treats my workplace as a second home (cuz it pretty much is). And I would no sooner leave used paper towels lying on the floor of my bathroom at home as I would here at work. Simple.

We can all use a reminder to be more involved with the agencies we work at. Jumping onto a new business pitch is hard when you are crazy busy. Volunteering to host bring your Kid's to Work Day is equally a time suck. But, at some point we all realize that helping oftentimes goes beyond your day job. Being truly involved in your workplace is so much more than 9 to 5. A little reminder of that every so often is appreciated.

Read the rest of Mr. Sullivan's interview, he is a champion at giving great advice. Then go pick up the bathroom.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I (heart) Sir Ken Robinson

This just may be the coolest thing I have seen in a while. As if listening to Sir Ken Robinson wasn't enough as he speaks on education and creativity and our role in the futures of our children, having him do that while animated is even better!

Friday, October 15, 2010

One student at a time

You'll hear a lot of things about the issue of diversity in Advertising. That the industry doesn't do enough, that diversity efforts are merely a box for agencies to check, that efforts to increase diversity are too little, too late. Read this article on Ad for more background on the latest issues facing the advertising industry regarding diversity (or lack thereof).

The film I worked on this summer, "Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising" went live online today. And I will be the first to admit it won't change diversity in industry. It won't all of sudden make agencies hire and promote more multi-cultural candidates. It won't make it easier for lower income ethnic students to access schools and programs to get them into this industry. This film doesn't claim it will do any of this.

Here's what this film will do: this film will encourage students to consider advertising as a career; this film will give students a perspective on advertising they haven't seen before, one that is honest and frankly, exciting; this film will allow multi-cultural students to see that there are successful, intelligent and pretty fun people just like them, making their way in this business; this film will ignite passion in students who are often too young to recognize their own creativity; and this film will give students a tiny bit of direction in their lives where they may have been none.

That's it. The film doesn't claim to be the be-all, end-all to this issue. But it will claim to be a concerted effort toward making a bigger change in our industry, starting one high school student at a time.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Beware the exit interview

Perhaps most of you have yet to experience an exit interview, where upon giving your notice at a job you are interviewed (usually by HR) so they can hear a bit more about why you are leaving.

Beware. Beware I say.

While not a worry if you've had a great experience at a company, love your coworkers, enjoyed every day and have literally nothing to complain about. Then, enjoy the process and gush all you want. Nice words pave the way should you ever want to come back to said company.

The challenge comes if you have NOT had a great experience, did not love your coworkers, did not enjoy the place and have lots to complain about. How do you provide constructive feedback to the company without using the opportunity to vent and rave about everything you are leaving over? Fine line, folks.

Here's a personal example. I was production manager at an agency when they suddenly lost the account. Rumor was most of us would be absorbed into the new agency, but a lot of us went searching for new jobs just in case. I landed a job, gave my notice and had an exit interview on my last day.

I wanted to do them a favor while they began to hire a replacement for me. I proceeded to tell them that I was too senior for the job and that, when they rehire, they should find someone with less experience. A junior person would be perfect for the kind of printing they were doing, which wasn't terribly complex. They kept listening, so I kept talking.

Fast forward to day one at my new job. Which I h.a.t.e.d.

Telling you all the reasons why I hated this new job on day #1 would be an entire blog post unto itself, so I will spare you. Suffice to say, I immediately called my old boss and asked for my job back. And surprisingly wondered why their answer was no. Huh.

This is a tame example of what topics you should probably not get into in an exit interview. As well, save your rants on specific people or find a way to get your point across without being disparaging. These meetings, while they appear confidential, aren't always so.

It's important that a company know what cogs might be broken and exit interviews allow the forum to get those points out in the open. I'd just caution you to really think about what you want to say and why.

If you truly would like to come back to the company some day, say so. If you truly would never like to step foot on their premises again, then really think twice about what you choose to talk about. It's a fine line between trying to help them get better, trying to vindicate any wrongs you suffered while there, and maintaining your reputation as a professional.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Today I'm proud to announce the launch of Creative Career Management. It's a consultancy I created to inspire and guide the next generation toward careers in advertising and design.

When I was in high school I didn't even know what the word creative meant, let alone know that I may have some morsels of creativity inside me. I also did not know that a person could be "creative" in a career. Heck, I was barely thinking of careers in high school.

By the time I got to college, I felt the pressure to decide a major and aim towards my future. Pressure that wasn't helping me pick anything to pursue. I still felt a creative bug, yet I had no artistic talent and was wholly confused on what to do about it.

My new company, Creative Career Management, aims to clear up some of that confusion for high school and early college students. Sometimes we just need some objective advice to help us chart our way. Guidance at an early age can point someone in the right direction with focus and clarity. Lord knows I wish I had some of that in high school. Through college consulting, creative workshops and portfolio development, I offer my services to students and juniors who want their creativity and passion to help them find a great career.

While preparing to launch my company this week, I worked on another project that also aims to help young people find their way. We produced a film called "Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising," and it's goal is to help expose young people to the potential and excitement of careers in advertising. An industry that desperately needs a population of young, diverse minds to join the ranks.

You can see sneak peeks of the video here on my blog and on the website we created. As a first project for Creative Career Management, this video illustrates the potential of the industry when we set our minds to making positive change and inspiring the next generation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mini-premiere #2!

Sneak preview #2. Inspiring words from Kenji Summers of BBH.

Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising in it's entirety will be available for viewing after the premiere Thursday, September 30th.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Tiffany Pan from Team One, shares a few thoughts on why working in advertising is so cool. We're affecting culture here folks!

Full cut of Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising launches next week. . .

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Passion and Diversity in Advertising

Gearing up to premiere our film, "Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising" during Advertising Week. We'll also post this to our new website for this project, complete with bios on the participants and creators, links and helpful resources for interested students and information on future screenings. The site will launch Monday and it's content will grow as we continue to edit more and more content.

Here's the official invite, extended to anyone who is the NYC area next week. Hope to see you there.

The 4A’s and VCU Brandcenter proudly invite you to the New York Advertising Week premiere of “Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising”. With an aim to inform and inspire our creative youth about careers in advertising, “Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising” reminds the Mad Men and Women why they love this advertising world.
Join us in celebrating the industry that thrives upon diverse ideas and perspectives through the faces and stories of TBWA\Chiat\Day, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam Brands, McCann Erickson, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Omnicom, Team One, Anomaly, FuturLogic, Latin Works, Translation LLC, Mother, The One Club, MDC Partners, and PepsiCo.

Thursday, September 30th
Paley Center for Media
25 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Turning Passions into Professions. . .

I'm a week or so away from launching a new company, Creative Career Management and I'm truly so excited.

When I started as a creative manager I had been working my whole career in print production, so needless to say I didn't really know what I was doing. Fake it 'til you make it as the saying goes.

Through trial and error, lots of advice and counsel from others and generally just figuring things out, here I am years later as a creative manager and recruiter. Now it's time to take things one step further. My favorite part of recruiting is meeting students and juniors. Just love em. I've said before they have a freshness about them that's contagious.

I'm taking my passion for coaching and mentoring juniors and turning it into something bigger. My company, Creative Career Management is a college consultancy specifically for creatively talented students. We all know how hard it was deciding which colleges to apply to, and it's ten times harder when creative talent is involved.

I hope to share my knowledge about schools and ad/design programs, quality of graduate portfolios, differences in campuses and tuition and really help high school and early college students make better decisions.

Passions into professions, isn't that what it's all about?!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I love great advice

I'm a sucker for great advice. I read quote books just for fun. I have scribbles on post-its around my office and fortunes from cookies taped to my computer.

Now you know why I love the Jones New York book of advice so much (yesterday's post).

Here's another good one I thought I'd forward.
Frank Chimero gives advice to graphic design students that touches on design and life.

Some good ones:
Scissors are good, music is better, and mixed drinks with friends are best.
Most important things happen at a table. Food, friends, discussion, ideas, work, peace talks, and war plans.
Success is generating an emotion. Failure is a million different things.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Career Advice

Last night I clicked an online banner. I know, we see them and avoid them with a vengeance. Yet it caught my eye, maybe because it was black.

It ended up being such a cool piece of work. Put together by Jones New York, it is an electronic mini-book of career wit & wisdom called the Little Black Book of Career Advice.

100 women offer advice to a creative audience. Women like Arianna Huffington, Beverly Johnson, Bobbi Brown, Donna Brazile, Ivanka Trump and, the illustrious Barbie.

The pages turn in that cool iPad eBook way, and some pages have video advice as well. I wish I had created this book. I wish I was in this book.

Read it and heed it. These ladies have some very inspiring things to say.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Very Cool Format

I saw this arrangement on a portfolio site the other day. It caught my eye. His twitter status updates (99% work-related, mind you). And below a cool graphic timeline of his resume.

Not only is this cool, I pretty much want to hang out with the guy. Anyone who does an adventure race in Moab and was the director of a YMCA camp has enough guts and stamina to hang in an ad agency creative department. THIS is what I mean when I say I want to know about you/your personality/interests. It's what makes you different than the next candidate.

James Kinney, nice job.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Second time around

My office is moving in a month. You all know how moves go with a 2-bedroom apartment, imagine a 10,000 square foot business. Messy mess all around.

I've been packing bits of my office this past week and lingered awhile with the 2 big boxes of portfolios sitting in a corner. Neglected since the popularity of electronic portfolios took over.

I'm really not sure what to do with them, some go back quite a few years. Their owners never reclaimed them and I occasionally poke through them when I'm stuck for a freelancer or candidate. It feels wrong to throw any of them away.

So I'm picking through the box and glancing at work and trying to decide if it's time to start chucking them. As I do this, I'm remembering sitting with some of these students and going over their books.

It's weird because I can recall not liking this or that particular campaign and trying to explain to the student why or how they could make it better. Though that's not the weird part. What's weird is that now that I re-look at some of this work a few years later, I'm liking it.

Now I'm questioning my old comments and thinking perhaps what I said or thought at the time isn't valid or has eased a bit. Is this just changing my mind? Is this what the passage of time does?

Really all I think it means is we –recruiters, creative directors, teachers– feel different things at different times about the work we are reviewing. You probably know this is true if you've participated in a portfolio review. One recruiter will say one thing and another will say exactly the opposite.

It's good to realize that the seeing work the second time around means I am opening the door to new talent. I'll reconsider people who weren't right at a particular time. You should know that's good news for you too. An agency who passed on you a few years ago may be calling you up for something now. Just as soon as they find your book at the bottom of the box.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Advertising & Branding Advice

Check out this video from Marcel Knobel, founder of the Creative and Commercial advertising agency. His interview with Ads of the World gives some great advice to juniors on how achieve a successful career.

Some of the questions he addresses:
"What elements are needed to succeed in the advertising industry?"
"What do you look for in a job candidate?"
"How should one dress for a job interview in the advertising industry?"
"How should one prepare for an interview in the advertising industry?"
"What does a marketing or advertising graduate need to know?"
"How important is a candidate's work experience and education?"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How it's done

Recruiters seldom get to see the "making of" someone's book. Occasionally, a creative will include their initial sketches or comps to illustrate how they got to their final idea. But that's only occasionally.

I find it fascinating to see how ideas are created. Did you ever see the making of the Sony Bravia Play Doh spot? THAT, my friends, is too cool.

This video by one of my new found juniors, Santiago Cosme (of pilgrimagetocrispin fame), is equally as cool. He shows the creation of one of his ads. I'm loving it because I never get to see how someone comes up with something, I only see it when it is done. It's a great peek into creativity.

Have a look.

BLUENOTE - We don't sell music. We sell souls. from santiago cosme on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Making me smile

I want to be 20 again. I mean really, wasn't there so much more freedom at that age? Or so I thought at the time. I want to be 20 again so that I can Sharpie my intentions on a cardboard sign and hitch my way through a life-changing road trip.

That's exactly what Santiago Cosme and Victor Blanco, two ad students, have done. This kind of stuff gives me the hugest smile. I'm tempted to put in for a quick vacation and meet up with them in Dayton. Check out their site and help them out. Or at the very least cheer them on. Guts, determination and a streak of wildness are all things this world could use a bit more of.

"Hi everyone. This is Santiago Cosme and Victor Blanco, two advertising students who have just landed in NY to follow a dream: to make it to Colorado, home of Crispin Porter.

For us, Crispin Porter is the Mecca of creativity, and as men of faith we have decided to set up on a pilgrimage to prove our devotion.

As exemplary students, we are skint, we don’t own a car and we have very little underwear, but we have a dream and hope that just like every pilgrim, we will find big-hearted people to help us. Any food: a burger, a banana, even dog food; any transport: car, rickshaw or a donkey; any place to sleep, with or without a roof, will be the kind of help we need to make those 3200 kms seem short.

So please, follow us and check where we are at any moment, because only with your help, will we reach the end of this road called dream.

Thanks. See you on the road.

Santi and Victor.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Is Portfolio Day really worth it?

Stephanie Orma shares her experience getting (somewhat harsh) feedback at an AIGA Graphic Design Portfolio day. Her decision to listen, take notes and makes changes based on what she heard was very smart. And, it landed her at Goodby! Not bad.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Job or no Job

This is one of the weirdest things I have heard about recruiting, yet I have now heard it 3 or 4 times.

People have been asking me if having a job is a bad thing when it comes to being recruited. I'm not sure if they are being told that or they are assuming that, but it's just plain weird.

Of course I want you to have a job. That means you are good and someone else thought you were good, hence they hired you. I can't imagine why having a job would be hindrance.

On top of that, I don't mind if you don't have a job. This is advertising. Half the advertising population is out of a job. If I ruled people out for being out of work, I'd be ruling out a huge chunk of very talented folks.

Neither of these factors deter me from considering a person for full time. Now, that's not to say it isn't easier to hire someone who is currently unemployed. When a candidate doesn't have a job, I don't have to wait 2 weeks (sometimes longer) while they give notice. But for a full time hire, come on, I'd wait a month or more for a really great person. I'd like to think other agencies do the same.

Freelance is a whole 'nother ballgame. I want you unemployed and I want you available on exactly the day I need you for exactly how long I need you. Ha. A girl can wish right?

In an absolute perfect world, I'd want to first freelance any candidate we were considering. We feel you out, you feel us out and we take the time to see if the relationship will pan out.

But absolute perfect world doesn't come around too often. We interview, we ask questions, we call references, we check our gut, we trust the portfolio, then we take a huge leap of faith and extend an offer. That's kinda just how it is.

Whether you are currently employed or not is not a big deal. It makes me happy when I know another great agency has found you before me. It makes me even happier to hire you away.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Follow the making of our High School Advertising Recruitment Video on Twitter. #HSAdVideo

You'll see the behind the scenes action at a load of great agencies. This week we interviewed some pretty inspiring people at Team One and TBWA/Chiat Day and today we are headed over to Ogilvy. Next week the crew heads to NY and hits Anomaly, McCann, Y&R, BBH, Pepsi, Schematic and a few other amazing places.

This has been such an inspiring few days and I can't wait to share this with everyone, high schoolers and beyond!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Passion For Advertising

Working to change the world, one student at a time!

I'm working on a great project and started a mini-blog to document it's creation. Check it out on

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Value of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is my friend. A good friend, in fact.

As a recruiter, I've found it's a wonderful tool to use to dig around and find all sorts of leads. It's six degrees of separation at its finest. I know that it's grown at an incredible rate over the last few years, meaning lots of folks have come to value it as much as I have.

My first impression years ago was that it'd be a business-y site. A place where engineers and developers and "business" people would connect. By that I mean, non-creatives. So happy now that our industry has embraced it as well. I can search art directors or writers, narrow by location and find a slew of potential candidates. The great thing from there is I can find others who are connections of these candidates, and go deeper and deeper into their networks.

Not sure about other recruiters, as for me, I am on LinkedIn everyday. I look at the news feed, I check open jobs (see if any competitors around me are hiring), I see who it suggests I might want to connect with. And, I search for candidates. It's not always for active, open jobs but I do like to keep ahead of the curve and get a few names for future reference.

I have noticed one thing that surprises me. I see a huge percentage of creatives that don't have links to their portfolio on their profile. My advice: you should, you should, you absolutely should. I've also seen a chunk of creatives who have a link on their profile that says "my company" and when you click it is their employer's website. Do you really need to be promoting them instead of you?

If you know how many people (read= recruiters) troll around on LinkedIn, you'll then appreciate the value of having your portfolio at the ready, even if you aren't looking for a new job. Don't pass on any opportunity to get your name and work out there, someday it'll be worth it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Send me any questions

This goes without saying, but thought I'd make it officially known. I love answering your questions! And, after all the great comments I received on my recent question-answering post, I thought I'd write a quick note.

Feel free to email me any questions you have regarding your portfolio, job search, interviews, etc.
Thanks, Cecilia

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Volvo V70

A little story about my Volvo and in the end it will give you something to relate during this award show time of year. Promise.

I loved my Volvo wagon. I'm a mom, what's not to love?

One day it dies in the middle of an intersection. Someone has to push me to the side of the road. A week later it dies again. This time I have my 2 kids in the car, it is 95 degrees out and the tow truck driver arrives 45 minutes later. He doesn't have room in his cab for all 3 of us so he leaves. Yep.

I get a new transmission. Two weeks later the car dies again. This time on the side of Laguna Canyon Road. For those of you not familiar, Laguna Canyon Road is a beautiful stretch of highway that leads from Irvine to the beach. It has no emergency lane.

A couple of days later I am headed to Ontario to judge the District 15 ADDYs. A lovely Saturday drive about 50 minutes away from my house. As I am pulling into the parking lot, you can guess what happens. My car dies AGAIN.

Four times in two months. I just about lost it. No wait, I did lose it. Total frustration, tears. And now I have to go in and judge a slew of pieces in an award show.

Some advice: Never judge an award show in a foul mood. About halfway through I had to excuse myself from the judging. I couldn't focus, I had no idea what to do about the car and I needed a beer really bad.

My point to you. You never know who is judging your work and what happened to them that day or the night before. Now I'm not at all saying that judges aren't worthy and don't take the process seriously. They certainly do. I am saying don't get too stressed over not winning every award show you enter. There are a lot of Volvos out there on the road.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A few answers

Answers to a few questions I was sent recently. . .

When is the best time of the year to apply for jobs as a copywriter?

At first, I didn't really think there was a season for copywriter jobs, but when I thought again about your question I changed my mind. I can tell you the season when agencies and recruiters are flooded with other candidates - graduation time. This may not translate to a hiring season, but it certainly would be the time when you are competing against a larger than average pool of candidates.

I wrote a post a while back about two seniors about 2 months from graduation and they were already making their rounds across the country on informational interviews. They wanted to beat the graduation rush and that was pretty smart.

Do you have any advice for a copywriter trying to get a job without a partner?

Have a great book. That's it. The best books get the job, partner or not.

Does your level of creativity determine salary and/or title?

Not title. Right out of school you are a junior until you prove yourself otherwise. (I am assuming you mean juniors here). Now salary, perhaps a bit. If I think a person is super, super good and that they may be considering other opportunities, then of course I want to entice them with a higher salary. We just interviewed Jeremy Carson, an CSULB senior three days before his graduation. His book was fantastic. Right now he has more than one employer courting him and I can bet you the highest salary has the strongest chance of landing him.

Do all ‘juniors’ have to start as juniors?

Uh. Yea. But that you put 'juniors' in quotes I am guessing you mean someone who maybe is older than the average student or had another career before getting in to advertising, then are they really a junior when they start? I met a guy at Brandcenter recently who went to portfolio school, became a copywriter then went back to school to get his masters as a Creative Technologist. He asked me the same question. He isn't a junior due to his previous years in the business, but he is a junior in terms of just graduating with a different degree.

I would image each recruiter has the discretion to make the hire at whatever level seems appropriate. I'd hire that CT from Brandcenter as a mid-level person, his experience as an agency copywriter would be a big plus.

How long should I wait for a response before realizing that they are just not into my book?

Well, always remember that no response does not necessarily mean they aren't liking your book. It usually means the person is way too busy with way too many books to look at to either check yours out or to get back to you once they do. Wait a decent amount of time after sending it before following up. Then wait a decent amount of time after that before sending one last communication (email/vm) that says something like, "I recently sent you my portfolio, which I am hoping you've had a chance to review. I am very interested in working at ________________, yet above all I'd love to hear your feedback on my work. May I get a few pointers from your perspective that would make my book better?

No person in their right mind could ignore that. A genuine request for feedback. Then, in getting their feedback, you'll also get a clearer answer if they like your book. Or not.

Should we try to get the Creative Recruiters direct email, or just send via the 'general way', like whatever their website provides us with?

Try to get the creative manager's direct email. My HR forwards me anything remotely creative, but you don't want to take the chance that other HR people don't or that your email gets lost in the shuffle.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Glamour Don't

Let me stress this point, and if I've written about this topic before you'll now know why I feel this is so important.

Do not. Do not. Do not set up a portfolio website where each individual piece of work has to be opened separately (translate: slooooooowly).
This is killing me.

I've stepped up the amount of portfolios I have been looking at this past couple of weeks, so I am seeing all sorts of varieties of portfolio websites and how people feature their work. If anyone one wants to make a fortune, they should interview 10 creative recruiters, ask them what the best portfolio format is, then sell that as a template to the entire creative community.

Back to the don't. Some people (who shall remain nameless) show pdfs of every piece of work they have done in thumbnails. Then you click on the thumbnail and the work pops up and enlarges. Just the one. You then have to click that pop up closed and click on the next pdf. And so on, and so on.

Some of you are smart enough to have a similar set up but when you click open one, there is a magic NEXT button and you can click through the entire set of work. Thank you for that.

It is exhausting to click each file. On top of that, there are some where the pdf doesn't just pop up it kind of pops up a gray box that magically resizes it self before your eyes, then the work shows. Multiply this by 10, 15, 20 pieces of work and you'll get my drift.

Make showing your work easy for the recruiter. There are 100's more books they have to look through and don't make frustration be the reason yours gets tossed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


A junior contact of mine, Ryann Flynn, contacted me the other day to help her decipher what creative directors really mean when they pass on hiring you. She had a couple of great interviews (or so she felt) and was ultimately told she wasn't hired.

1st place: told her she was "very talented with a bright future" but that her not getting the job was a matter of "agency culture"

2nd place: told her and her partner they "loved" their books and liked them both very much yet they have "decided to go in a different direction"

It got me thinking about how hard it is for a recruiter or creative director to tell someone you're passing on them. What's my take on what these statements mean?

Here a few translations that may help:

Deciding to go in a different direction = we hired the other team
It's a matter of agency culture = not sure your personality will fit in
Your experience isn't what we are seeking = it is, but we're passing on you
We have no jobs open right now = we do, but we're passing on you
There is a hiring freeze = there is a hiring freeze

I assured Ryann that no creative director would tell you they loved your book if they didn't in fact love your book. And if you are told you are talented with a bright future, you can be assured you are and you will. No one hands out statements like that without meaning them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Have Faith

Graduation is upon us. Those of you in your last year of school are studying for tests, finalizing your books and, thank god, attending your very last classes.

It's been so long since I've graduated college that I forget what it felt like in those last few days. I can't remember if I was nervous though I'm certain I was relieved. I was so far from having a clue about what I wanted to do that the idea of being fearful didn't enter my brain. I started that summer like any other summer, set on doing a lot of nothing and getting very tan while doing it.

Yesterday I spoke with a young woman from Savannah College of Art & Design. She is nearing graduation and she's a bit scared of what comes next. Her name is Amy Troche-Walsh and I'm sure she is feeling a lot like a whole bunch of you who are closing in on your graduation date.

Amy has nothing to be worried about. She has a very strong book (she's an art director doubling as a competent copywriter). But, I imagine whether you feel you are good gets overridden by whether you feel you are good enough.

The nervousness of going out into the great beyond is natural. Will agencies like your book? Will you get interviews? Will you get a job? Will you get a decent salary? All those questions are natural. Just have faith. Have faith that your book is solid (that's what all those years of school got you). Have faith people will like your work (see my recent post about something for everyone). Have faith that a job will come through at a salary you can live with.

You are just beginning. Beginnings are always good and always a bit scary. Good people with good books will always find their way. I have faith in that.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Putting the Art in Art Direction

Last week I attend a senior portfolio show at Minneapolis College of Art & Design. I love this school for many reasons: it's located in a wonderful cultural city that fosters the arts in so many ways; it's the perfect size for a college campus, not too big, not too small; and its advertising program prioritizes artistic fundamentals.

These are the exact artistic fundamentals that I loved in Megan Baxter's portfolio. She was the first graduate I met and I ended up chatting with her so long that I didn't have enough time to see all the students (bummer). She did a series of posters that are a true example of putting the art in art direction.

She described how she created them and I was in awe. Mostly because I wondered if any of my senior art directors (mine or anyone else's for that matter) were tearing up pieces of paper or cutting out letter shapes with an exacto all in the name of a good layout. Kinda doubt it.

Portfolios from schools like MCAD or SCAD or SVA have a different feel than others. I truly believe it's because they stress the arts first and "advertising" second. Students spend a full year in their fundamentals classes learning letterpress, silk screening, book binding, drawing, painting and so on.

These are the skills that come through in their advertising work. Like Megan's posters. She could have done these on the computer. She could have done the backgrounds in photoshop and the type in illustrator. Most people do. But she used her hands and tools other than a computer. The result: purely artistic.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brandcenter Portfolio Review

I spent last week at VCU Brandcenter's Senior Show. Me and about 100 other creative managers and recruiters from across the nation. Good times all around.

Brandcenter is just plain cool. Another place that made me want to quit my job and sign up for school. And, any chance I have to meet and chat with students makes my day. There was such great work and so many students to get to know, both which made for a very worthwhile trip.

Now when the recruiters left the session each day, most of us wound up at the hotel bar to catch up and share thoughts on all we'd seen.

Did you see Hope Jordan's Richmond Ballet work? Happen to chat with Don Sticksel, the copywriter turned Creative Technologist? (we recruiters discussed CT's at length this trip). What did you think of that nice copy in Colin Quinn's Victoria's Secret campaign? At the end of the day, we were like chatty school girls (+/- a drink or two).

You'd think with 100 recruiters and 97 students there'd be a feeding frenzy and hiring battle amongst us. There surprisingly wasn't and I loved being able to compare notes on the students with recruiters from the top agencies in the U.S. Remember there is usually only one of us at each agency, so we tend not to commensurate very often.

What came out of these late-night discussions was reassuring to me and, I'd imagine, to all the juniors out there. At the end of the day, some of us liked the same work; some of us disliked the same work; a few loved a particular student and others did not; those I connected with, some found they didn't; and so on.

Everyone's tastes are different. I can like a student or one of their campaigns, while the recruiter next to me can hate it. I can not get a concept, while another recruiter thinks it is fabulous. And it's OK. That's what makes recruiting (and showing your book) so great. There is something/someone for everyone. All of our respective agencies have different needs. In turn, the recruiters are all looking for something slightly different in their hires.

Juniors, take note. A recruiter who is looking for someone with just your style or tone or ideas will find you. As well, another may pass you up. It all works out in the end. And, for graduates of VCU Brandcenter I guarantee, it'll end well.

Friday, April 16, 2010


There comes a time in every creative's (read: employee's) life when it becomes apparent it's time to move on from their current agency.

Now this can happen for a variety of reasons, reasons that don't really matter for me to make a point. All you need to know is that it happens and it will happen to you too. Know too this is not a bad thing.

Whenever someone gives me their notice I tell them, on behalf of the agency, I am bummed. Unexpected replacement of staff is a more-than-slight pain. I also tell them, on behalf of me, that I am so excited for them. Taking the next step career step is such a good thing and I love when people make it happen. I call it putting another slice in the pie.

Every job you have is a slice of pie. Over the course of your career, you can have 4 big slices or 8 smaller ones. Just always remember that it's not the entire pie in each career decision or move you make. This takes some of the pressure off when you agonize if you've made the right decision to go somewhere else. It's just a slice moving further down the path of making you whole.

You will always be learning and growing with each place you go. Even if the place turns out to be not all that stellar. You learn from it and move on. In the end, you are building your career.

Go forth and make pie my friends.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Sometimes portfolios make me happy for reasons other than the good work inside. Now, don't get me wrong, I love love love when the work inside is great. But sometimes a book will affect me for other reasons right when I land on the site, before I see even one lick of creative which is cause for genuine happiness.

And, like this recent one, a thoughtful insight into others' creative work.

Michael Wilson's portfolio made me instantly stop and call him up. Not send him an email. We're talking serious dialing of a phone. I really, really liked how he presented his work and wanted him to hear firsthand how it impacted me.

What he does that is not only unselfish but generally interesting, is show a collection of other people's creative work (before you even click through to anything he's done). And, he gives a short paragraph on why he finds each piece interesting. That enables recruiters like me to get a glimpse into how Michael seeks out creative inspiration, how he describes what he likes and how he is pretty daring to put his personal preferences out for everyone to see and judge. A trait that will serve him well in this industry.

I clicked through 4 or 5 links on that page before I ventured on. And by then, I felt like I already had a nice experience on the site. I learned a few things and saw some really neat stuff I hadn't see out there. Before anything else.

Now, to top it off, Michael had some very nice work to back all this up. I am proud to say he's been hired to be our summer intern this year. So I am even happier than I was before.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Coming around and going around

In our industry it is a well-known rule, every person you cross paths with once, you'll cross paths with again. The sooner you learn this, believe this and act on this, the better.

First learn this. Learn that every person comes into your career for a reason. That co-worker you kinda can't stand. That creative director who is uber-ridiculously-detail-obsessed. That sweet receptionist who offered you a glass of water while you were waiting.

It's no accident that particular person crossed your path at that exact moment in time. Now your job is to treat them with respect (even if it is merely respecting their ability to be a jerk) and respond always with professionalism and kindness. Your are building bridges early on in your career, it's much too early to tear any down.

Next believe this. Believe that any encounter with someone teaches you something. That ucky co-worker teaches you how to interact with difficult people. That polite receptionist teaches you that courtesy is title neutral.

Believe that you are going to spend your entire career meeting and mixing people who'll range from sweet as pie to big fat ugh. They teach you how to be a better person, a better creative, a better manager, a better whatever. You don't learn all this work stuff on your own. You learn it by having experiences (the harder, the better) with others. Those experiences are what help you grow in your career.

Lastly, act on this. Act like the person you've crossed paths with will be back in your life 10 years later. Because, in this industry, that's a given. Act like you would if, in 10 years, this person will be your boss. Or your HR director. Or your partner. I guarantee if you use this mentality, you'll always come out ahead.

Everyone remembers kindness and respect. Just don't ever, ever, ever forget that people remember disrespect and bad encounters even longer.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hello Katie

When you are sending out emails to a bunch of creative managers/recruiters/creative directors at the same time in the hopes of getting an internship/job/freelance, please review your note for accuracy. You are most likely copy and pasting your note into a bunch of different emails. This is just a friendly reminder to double check that you've changed the name of the person you are sending it to.

Today I got: Hello Katie.
The other day I got: Dear Lisa Cecilia Gorman

I know it saves a ton of time, heck I do it too. Not a huge violent offense, although it serves to remind me that I might not be the one and only special agency where you want to work; I am just one of many special agencies you'd like to work. Including the ones where Katie and Lisa work.

Once I got an offer letter from an agency -- not my current one ;)-- that was addressed to me, then about half way through the letter it said, "and Erin we are so happy to bring you on board." Erin? I was kinda bummed. Again, slight offense. But, just try and do due diligence.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Next Generation

Yesterday I was honored to speak at the 4A's Transformation 2010 event. All of the presenters focused on areas that are undergoing or should undergo transformation to grow and strengthen the advertising industry. I, of course, wanted to represent juniors in the industry.

My topic: It's the next generation who will transform advertising.

I told the crowd, "There is no doubt that innovations in media, technology and every other topic in this conference will transform advertising. No doubt. But, those changes cannot happen without the properly trained minds to put them to use.

The next generation is critical to our industry. I’m here today to stress the importance of embracing young talent. And to plead with each one of you to play a role in fostering the next generation. For longevity of the enterprise.

Let's transform history by investing in our future."

And based on the feedback I got after speaking, there are a lot of people in this industry that care about junior talent as passionately as I do. It's my hope the momentum continues and the industry does better to embrace and nurture the next generation.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What does creative look like?

A question I have been asking lately is "How'd you know you were creative?" In essence, what does being creative look like? I ask this because when I was young, I never knew that anything I was doing would be considered creative, much less be anything I could base a career off of.

I suspect there are a ton of young people who, just like I did, do all sorts of things in a creative fashion without ever realizing the potential of that creativity. For me, it was an insane interest in visual images from magazines. I'd spend hours and hours cutting out faces and cool type and interesting shots, then an equal amount of hours arranging and re-arranging them onto a wall-size cork board.

Here's what people are saying:
I doodled everywhere, on every paper when I was in grade school.
I've hand made cards ever since I was young.
I was always drawing cartoons and making comics.
People were always coming to me to write something for them, usually something funny.
I loved drama and performing.
I was drawing and painting all the time.

We might be called creative at a young age if we had a paintbrush in hand. Or if we were drawing cartoons. People tend to use the word creative to something tangible and "art-like."

It's when we do the not-so-obvious creative things like doodling or making crafts or ripping up magazines that we may not be called out as creative.
Yet it is and we are.

Pay attention to the subtle signs of creativity from when you were young. My guess is they're steering you toward a career where these skills can flourish.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great Online Primer

Check out this very cool website from Aquent. At first you don't really know what it is. The design is black and white, kind of template-y. But once you start clicking, you see that is a primer about the online space. Definitions of interactive components and a (very cool) list of what jobs you'd need to create it.

It's the best primer I have ever seen to explain what people getting into the industry might really want to know about career possibilities. (Not to mention how super smart a staffing agency was to create something like this).

Here's a sample of the information Aquent provides.
Interactive Design:
Interactive Design is the process by which an idea is nurtured and cultivated to become a truly awesome online experience. Any experience, from a Web app to a full site, depends on it. The key to this winning formula is equal parts beauty, functionality and practicality, built on a solid layer of code to make it accessible and engaging.

You’ll need:

Interactive Designer
Interactive Designers are masters of the balance between form and function. They can design user interfaces that engage (and retain) visitors. They know what the latest tech can do, and they utilize every last drop of designer-y goodness to deliver an experience that is both easy to use and totally gorgeous.

Front End Developer
Front End Developers are the folks behind the curtain, utilizing the latest Web development standards and solid hands-on technical skills to create sites that function properly across a wide variety of browsers and platforms. They connect with Quality Control to ensure flawless execution. They make it work.

Interactive Copywriter
Interactive Copywriters are a rare breed of Copywriter. In addition to being funny, modest and gorgeous, they understand the intricacies of writing for the online world. They know how to write something as simple as a killer tagline, or as complex as an entire blogs worth of content. Quite useful, indeed.

Project Manager
Project Managers are the baking powder for your Interactive cake: you need one if it's going to rise. They coordinate the details of design and development, working directly with clients and resources to ensure on-time delivery. They also handle budget and staff management, taking even more off your plate.

User Experience
Developing fantastic user experience (UX) requires: user research, interaction design, information architecture, visual design, and usability testing. UX covers all of these, so your website or application is engaging and intuitive (oh and best of all increases sales, better conversion, and more).


Monday, February 1, 2010


I've never been laid off which, in advertising, is rare. Watching Lemonade, a short documentary about being laid off from a job in advertising, made me feel two conflicting emotions: depression and inspiration.

Depression first. I am the person doing those layoffs. Big fat ugh. I'm the one saying, "Can you come into my office for a minute?" knowing full well I am about to let the person go. Seeing how that feels from the other side hits a chord and not a fun one.

Then inspiration. Suddenly I want to be laid off. All this talk about finding your true self and living to your fullest is heartwarming. We all have a grander purpose in life beyond our jobs in advertising. I loved seeing people go after it. Very jealous.

Have a watch.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Small Tip

When a creative mails in a portfolio to our agency, it gets routed to me. Even when it is addressed to someone else, it will make it's way to my desk. A creative manager is the person who filters the candidates before anyone else sees them. So anything even remotely creative-related comes my way.

The other day a candidate mailed me a portfolio packet. A day later another copy of that same packet was left on my desk by the HR Director who was so kindly forwarding me the creative's work. Couple days later another copy of that same packet was left on my desk by a creative director who was so kindly forwarding me the creative's work. Kid you not, a day after that, another copy was left on my desk by another creative director who was so kindly forwarding me the creative's work.

Ugh. You do not need to mail the same agency 4 or 5 times over. I know you are trying to hit as many targets to up your chances of being noticed, but I'm not so certain this is a good strategy. Also, the amount of paper and postage it is taking to mail so many pieces must be time and cost consuming (and don't even get me started on the paper waste).

Couple tidbits:
The ECD is not opening mail unless it is really important. His assistant is weeding through it and sorting out the things that are essential for his eyes and turning the candidate-related stuff over to the creative manager.
The HR Director is sorting through their mail and turning the creative candidate-related stuff over to the creative manager.
The Creative Directors are most likely opening their own mail. At bigger agencies, they may have assistants doing it. Sending one to them might prove helpful. But ultimately they'll turn the candidate-related stuff to the creative manager to follow up on.

Be selective and targeted with to whom you send your information. Your follow up with the correct person (the creative manager) is what's really important.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Zac Ryder

I am most proud when the juniors I hire move on to bigger and better things with regard to their careers. The end product of my work efforts is a person, not a portfolio.

Zac Ryder was a junior copywriter trying to get his foot in the door when I met him back in 2004. His relentless pursuit of a job was endearing (which in some cases borders annoying, but not so with Zac). He called, he emailed, he said he'd sweep the mail room, he offered to work for free and, eventually, I hired him as a junior writer.

It's one of the best hiring decisions I've ever made. Zac spent three years here at Y&R and contributed beyond his years and experience from day one. Seriously, he was concepting on new business pitches and presenting to our executive team right out of the gate. His passion was infectious and he had the talent and drive to back it up.

When a creative gives their notice, I'm happy and sad at the same time. Happy that the person is taking what they've learned at our agency and building the next part of their career from it. Sad for obvious reasons. I am very proud when a creative takes the next step with a portfolio filled with a few years of great work from the opportunity they had at our agency. Zac Ryder continues the trajectory of his career and makes me very proud indeed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Up the Ante

I care about the up and comers. Not in a motherly type of way. I care in an honestly concerned, somewhat obsessive kind of way. Every one of us should be that concerned. The next generation of talent is who will transform advertising. It’s imperative we do everything possible to teach them, push them and guide them along the way (we may think we’re doing that already but I assure you, we aren’t).

This quote hangs in my office, “The core responsibility of management is the next generation.” We must be overly and obsessively concerned with those entering our beloved business. Otherwise any transformation this industry sees will be slow going and far less revolutionary.

As a creative recruiter, I’m drawn to entry-level talent. They have a freshness about them that’s contagious. I spend a lot of time meeting with students, speaking at schools, basically finding any way I can to help shepherd their careers. If I can affect one student‘s passion for advertising and help cultivate their talent along the way, my job is done. Being exposed to so many students, recent graduates and entry-level talent is starting raise my eyebrow in more than a few ways.

First, anyone can get an advertising degree with relative ease. Diploma in hand proves nothing about your talent. Diploma + portfolio certainly helps a creative’s cause, but what about the thousands of others who aren’t entering through a creative portal?

Now, imagine this.

Imagine if they had to pass an exam. Lawyers have to. Doctors have to. Lawyers and doctors have to prove they are worthy of the profession they are about to enter. They prove it by knowing what’s most critical about their industry. Those tests establish a minimum entry into the field. Advertising, not so much.

Heck, there are even the most basic careers you can get certified in: massage therapy, career coaching, personal training, nurse assisting. Quite the opposite: you can be in advertising and not know a click about the industry (well, I guess you could watch Art & Copy and call it a day); or not know what your production/broadcast/media departments do (trust me, the majority don’t); or not understand how agency work impacts clients’ business (frightful, yet wholly possible).

Let’s change that.

In order to transform advertising, we must change that. Let’s mandate every senior pass the “Ad Exam”. We come up with select questions about the industry: history, media and technology advances, the science and art of advertising, the finances and operations of an agency, the best and worst work, and so on. Fail? Well, study up and try again in 3 months. Students currently have no skin in the game (unless you count an upwards of 6 figure tuition bill). The Ad Exam solves for that.

Second, part of what is holding us back is a general lack of understanding, at a junior level, of how an agency operates. How can we transform advertising when a chunk of those working in it haven’t a clue how the gears work? We are so eager to make those new hires and get jobs filled, we don’t take even a minute to train them in the most basic things.

Imagine if they had to complete a residency. Again, like doctors who, after 12-16 years of school must work another 4 years completing on-the-job training. They aren’t real doctors until their residency is done. Even hairdressers have to do their fair share of shadowing, stuck in the shampoo sink for a few months before they can actually cut someone’s hair.

What if new hires spent weeks working in other departments before they were even allowed to start the job for which they were hired? Pessimists will say there’s no money for training, no time to commit, no resources to wrangle it. I say we’re raising a generation of talent that knows little about what they are doing (or worse, why they are doing it).

Let’s change that.

Let’s mandate every entry-level new hire must complete an agency residency. They aren’t promotable until they do. I know a traffic person who became an account supervisor within 3 years of starting in this business. How is this possible? A year in traffic is an excellent primer on how an agency works I agree, but getting to be an account supervisor takes years and years of experience. Someone may be good at what they do, but promoting them before they’ve had enough real-time experience is a disservice. Through residencies, we at least assure that entry-level talent has the basic tenets to use as a foundation for their career.

There is no doubt that innovations in media and technology will further transform advertising. Just look at the past 5 years and you’d agree. But, those changes cannot happen without the properly trained minds to put them to use. By upping the ante to get into the advertising game, we’d transform a whole lot more than the level of talent and creativity. We’d transform history by investing in our future.