|How to Get a Job in Advertising, Part II (It Still Ain't Easy)
By: Brian Keller
"Dweller on the Threshold"
Last week we explored getting a job in advertising by using a headhunter. Headhunters are good, as they need to get you a job so they can make money. If you don’t get the job they want you to get, they go on to forget about you in ways that make you think they haven’t forgotten you. It really is the way to go to not get a job while thinking you might.
“Journey to the Center of your Mind”
Another option for the pathetic job seeker — and we are all pathetic job seekers at some point — is going to what was called Creative Services back in the old days of around 2008.
Now, there are fancier titles like Offices of Human Capital (a favorite). It’s neat to be a gigantic piece of flesh currency. Most people feel good about that, so the nice agencies, knowing how fragile psyches are, have used Human Capital to great advantage along with Office of Procurement as well. Most would like to be procured too. But, as a nod to the past, we’ll stick with Creative Services. “Creative Services” gets talent for the Creative Department so the Creative Department can create creative that can be rejected by the Creative Directors and then watered down by the Account Executives and finally changed by the client. It’s a great system. So, there are the basics. The job you do (to get a job) is to try and get to the Creative Service Directors at ad agencies and apply directly. It’s a much quicker way to be ignored.
"Kafka on the Shore"
The Creative Service Directors like to go through your “book” (online portfolio in most cases) and nod and smile and then tell you that they will show your work to all the important people. You only think they are nodding and smiling because most of this process takes place via email after a four-minute phone interview with a 20-year-old HR specialist.
The 20-year-old HR specialist usually calls you after you apply for a position on the massive website, which is usually a great experience in and of itself. You don’t really talk to the Creative Service Director, you just think you do.
You upload your resume and it populates all the information. You will also fill out the things like your race, sex, military service, and any time spent in the penal system. The website says you don’t have to do this but everyone does it. It’s like entering the Publisher’s Clearing House without subscribing. There is no chance to win if you don’t subscribe and you know they’re watching you. So, make sure you fill out your race, age, sex, military experience, and penal system experience. So, after you fill out all the stuff, you will get to another page in the process that asks you to fill out forms about your last jobs, education, etc. It is kind of like the information that you’ve provided on your recently uploaded resume, but it’s not because it’s not in the resume section. Remember, it’s not in the resume section. Don’t ignore it. You fill it out because you know they are watching and looking for any kind of insubordination. Don’t be insubordinate to a website. They are watching.
"So put your hands up if you like me, then say you like me."
After about 12 weeks or so, if you’re in the running, you may get a call or email from HR. Don’t get excited. You probably won’t get a call because everyone at the agency has a job at the agency so they don’t get paid anymore for getting people jobs, but they can keep their jobs by not bringing in anyone who would do too good a job, a real bad job, or be insubordinate and a bad form filler-outer. Your chances are much better with a headhunter, as the good ones usually know someone important at the agency who may actually want work done.
So, if you do get a call from HR, the robot resume checkers have passed you through. You will then be awarded with the screening interview with someone who represents the Creative Department. They will love you and love your work. They will then set up the phone interview with the “team.” You will wait weeks for the interview. You will interview with at least seven people who will ask you questions about your resume and your experience over a speakerphone. If you pass, you will be asked to come for a visit. You will visit and meet the “Creative Services Director.” The Creative Services Director will give you a piece of paper with your “day” and your meeting schedule on it. After the Creative Services Director gives you your paper and guides you to your seat to wait, you will never see them again even if you get the job. It’s really neat.
You will interview with three of the seven people scheduled plus two ACDs who were caught doing something bad and punished by being forced to talk to you.
“Paranoia strikes deep/Into your life it will creep”
After all the meetings, most of the time you get to leave and never hear back from them. You will write thank-you letters (emails) because you will be too paranoid not to. Don’t be paranoid. It won’t help. Being paranoid would being showing a lot of hubris, as most won’t be thinking of you or remember you.
“I'm walking on sunshine, woooah/and don't it feel good!!
Hey, alright now/and dont it feel good!!
Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a note from the Assistant Creative Services Director saying, “We’ve decided to pass on your application at this time.” What great news; they’re only passing at this time! Hope springs eternal.
"Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right”
The process of getting a position is sometimes frustrating and many times bizarre. Being on the outside looking in is always like that. Advertising is a worldwide multibillion dollar enterprise, and there a lot of good people in good companies who are hiring people just like you. There’s a secret that is not-so-well kept: If you keep on trucking, you will survive, and you will get a job.
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.
Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.
He has built the creative departments at two agencies.
He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.
Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.