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.