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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Are there second chances in the ad industry?

Are there second chances in the ad industry?

Hi Jancy,
I am one of the few people who has managed to get a job in advertising fairly easily. Sadly I managed to lose the job just as easily.
My partner and I were both fired without warning after a year at a fairly well respected shop. We managed to produce some decent work (more work than any other team at the agency that year, in fact) but the ECD described it as “just ok.” He also had a problem with me, personally, not applying myself as much as I could have been.
The firing came as a complete shock, and it was a huge wake up call to me. My whole life I’d been coasting. I managed to do very well at high school and college with the minimum of effort. I even managed to coast into this incredibly competitive industry. My coasting had finally come to a brutal, sharp end. I was suffering from depression at the time, and I am sure this was reflected in the amount of passion and drive I was showing.
I totally understand why they had to fire me. It was a huge wake up call for me. Now all I want is to get into an agency again, so that I can show people (and show myself) what I am capable of when I give 100% effort.
My partner and I went our separate ways. He managed to get another job fairly quickly. However, six months later, I am still looking. Even less well respected shops than my old place don’t reply to my emails, even when they are advertising an open position for someone with my exact level of experience. I feel like some kind of industry pariah.
I love advertising and I can’t imagine doing anything else, but I feel shunned by the industry. People say your first job in advertising is the hardest to get, and things get easier when you have work produced and agency experience. I am finding the opposite is the case.
Do you have any advice for someone who is looking for a second chance? Or is this an industry that doesn’t give second chances to anyone?

intro Are there second chances in the ad industry?The good news is that you’re clearly talented, and you learned a huge lesson early in your career. It’s always hard to get a job in a small industry with few openings at any given time. It’s hard to imagine that at a junior level, word is all over town that you’re hiring poison. There could be other factors. The way you promote yourself may need to change. The work from your year at the fairly decent agency may be only ok, as your ECD said. You are in ‘pitch mode’ now, and that means upping your game, getting proactive on what’s in the book and pulling out all the stops on how you’re going about getting the interview.

Ask a respected senior creative person to review your book (could be a former professor if you don’t have any connections yet) and ask for brutally frank feedback. You may find you want to take some time to do some spec work that shows what you can really do. Nothing gets you a job more effectively than great ideas. It’s 90% of the ticket. The other 10% is stuff like your personality, sense of “fit”. “Slacker” is a bad reputation to have, but again, it’s hard to imagine word being far and wide that this was an issue in your first job. Now you have the opportunity to show you can be quite the opposite. Proactive, hard working, positive and up for anything are where you need to be.

Work on getting your very best ideas in front of the people you want to see. Think of a creative, impossible-not-to-open package to leave for them at their offices. Remember how busy they are, what a blur of people parade past them every day, and think through how you can disrupt that. Taken to great lengths, we’ve seen self-promotion pieces get into big awards shows. It’s just another opportunity to demonstrate your ability to solve a problem creatively.

This business forgives a lot. It’s got plenty of characters who have been naughty indeed. All that really matters at the end of the day, is can you get back on the horse and do great work. You will be hired again if you can show what you’re capable of and exude passion for the business. Good luck.

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  • tuuk | innovation

    In an era of jumping around, trying to make more money or gain more rope – it turns out Rob tried a completely different approach and got back to doing good work. And has been rewarded handsomely for it. Great interview guys.


About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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