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September 5, 2009
Labor Day Everyday

If you’re working, Monday is a day off. But for many of us, Monday is just another reminder we’re not working and we wonder if this uncertain time will ever end.

Are you unemployed? Do you go to work every day thinking the ax might fall? Are you pining for something better? You are my reader this Saturday.

The worst recession since the Great Depression has been rough on ad professionals. I got my pink slip on July 2. According to the Lemonade Movie Trailer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJltcT7DH7g, 70,000 ad professionals have been let go since the recession began.

Since my own layoff, I’ve been pounding the keyboard from here in the Midwest. This is territory I know well. I’ve been unemployed and searching for copywriter jobs in Cincinnati, New York, Chicago and Kansas City. I know what it’s like to search desperately for a bathroom in Manhattan or clutch your portfolio extra tight fearing the wind might blow it into the Chicago River.

But today? Folks, if we were a patient, we’d be on life support. Jobs are scarce. If there is an opening, it’s competitive as hell. I have my name in the hat for a position at a St. Louis shop but so do 100 others.

How do you stand out from the pack? How do you go from getting a state unemployment check to getting a real paycheck? How do you go from fearing for your job or loathing it to being excited about a new situation?

Be the silver bullet
If you’re fortunate enough to find an opening, this is what you’ll need to be to land it. It’s an employer’s market out there. That HR gal or recruiter can afford to be extra picky. So if you’re not perfect, don’t waste your time.

Forget the job
What? Hear me out. Jobs are scare but companies still have challenges and opportunities that require talent. Now is the time to pitch yourself as a consultant or a three-month contract hire. Visit http://www.getbacktoworkfaster.com for a free downloadable book on a different approach to job hunting.


Pay it forward
This tip is for everyone who has a job. You don’t know what the future will bring. Get that karma working for you by lending a helping hand. Accept those LinkedIn requests. Return emails and phone calls. Play matchmaker. I’ve already helped two people find jobs in this economy, including my wife. Help account people as they may land at companies—your future clients.

Pack your bags
If your life is such you can make a move, you’re much more marketable in this economy. It’s not without risk. The new agency may not pay for relocation. It might not work out. Then you’re stuck and perhaps blackballed in the market. Can you tell I’ve been down this road? Or you’re saddled with kids and mortgage. Can you tell this is my world today?

Consider client-side
I can’t believe I’m writing this. For 20 years, I’ve stood by the agency model.
Today, I think it’s ripe for reinvention—not unlike the transformation happening in the newspaper industry. My crystal ball looks like this and I bet it’s going to generate some comments below. We work for the CFO as much as the CMO. General agencies will continue to hurt due to a lack of focus. We’ll see a rise in specialty agencies and in-house agencies. Social media will be a bugaboo as companies look to internalize this function.

Well, that’s five tips for a Labor Day weekend. If you’re working and unhappy, be thankful and plan your exit strategy. If you’re not working, hang in there. Stay positive. Practice your craft every day.

You are better than you are. Prove it to the world.

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Mike Ogden is a digital/senior writer based in Kansas City. Ad agency stops have enabled him to create for major brands like American Century, Capital One, Sprint, and USAA. Seasoned and sharp with a touch of gray, Ogden, aka Og, is known for creating and championing ideas. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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