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.