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April 29, 2016
Mediocre Career? Maybe It’s On Autopilot
The economy is going through some difficult times. Advertising is leading the way when it comes to dissatisfaction.
I look at it like A Tale of Two Cities. It may be the worst of times, but it is also the best of times. Technology has given us a large palette to use to create. Don’t believe the naysayer. You can still have a great career. Knowing some facts can help you properly manage your journey and have the career you’re meant to have.
33.3% of us want to quit, but not at the places doing good work.
Deutsch LA did a study with the AAAAs that concluded that ad professionals are so dissatisfied with their jobs, one-third of them are looking for new jobs each year. My JPL partners also own Austin agency McGarrah Jessee. Their employee tenure is far above the industry’s average. The reason is simple. The focus of everyone is on quality. Many places share their passion. Find one and make it your goal to join their team.
Unemployment for college graduates is at 50%
Rutgers University did a study about the effect the economy had on the employment of college graduates. The study found that of the students who have graduated college during the past five years, 50% are still unemployed or underemployed. I’ve mentored several students during their last year. All have landed great jobs at great companies within weeks of finishing. Unlike the grand majority of graduates, they were ready. They were ahead of the curve. If you are in the top five percent of candidates, you’re in the position to not only get a job, but also land one that catapults your career.
99% of us live in obscurity
Great work feeds notoriety. When you couple the economic woes with the overwhelming possibility that you will do bad work, you can see why our industry is losing talent to other industries. For those who want to defy the odds and avoid a career of mediocrity, take control by doing the following:
1. Determine a specific career goal. Think ten years ahead and reverse-engineer to a starting point.
2. Target a half-dozen companies that offer opportunities that make the goal available.
3. Design your portfolio to show what you can contribute to your targeted employers.
4. Maximize soft skills. Work ethic, teamwork, and communications skills top the list.
5. Prepare to nail your interview: Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.
6. When you land a job, make the most of the opportunity by having an attitude to help others: your team, your client, and ,most of all, the client’s customer.
Advertising is a great industry for those with a passion to innovate. Don’t look at the obstacles. Look over the horizon. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Listen to your heart. Don’t get down. Get up and lead. You’re in control.

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Bart Cleveland spent over 30 years helping grow brands like Coca-Cola, The Ritz-Carlton, and CNN. Now, he guides creative professionals to plan and execute successful careers through his business, Job Propulsion Lab℠. He also helps both agencies and marketers nurture customers into advocates through a relationship development program he calls, ACES℠. 
Bart launched Ad Age’s most popular blog, Small Agency Diary. He is also a contributing author of the book, The Get A Job Workshop, How To Find Your Way To A Creative Career In Advertising.

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