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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Switching agencies for a lower ranked position: a risky move?

Switching agencies for a lower ranked position: a risky move?

I am an art director with 5 yrs experience in a small agency in a not so advertising city. The work that I have done (TV, interactive, print etc.) is great but it’s regional. (CDs have been very receptive to it, just not hiring me). Its just that I am ready for a new opportunity. I have a chance to move to a much bigger and better agency with great work in an good advertising city the only problem is that its for an associate AD position (1 to 4 yrs experience). I know I would be working under some creatives that have the same experience as I do. The company does not have an opening for an art director and they want me interview for the associate position. Should I go to the better agency to be an associate or stay and wait for another art director position somewhere else? Am I crazy to leave for a lower position in hopes to get better creative with national clients? I’m kind of lost.

intro Switching agencies for a lower ranked position: a risky move?Unless the job means significant improvement in opportunities to learn and grow that put you on a (long term) better track, it would be questionable to step into a junior AD job with 5 years experience. As you say, you may be set up to resent direction from people with the same experience, and if it means a pay cut as well, it really suggests a long hard think before a “yes”. You haven’t given us a lot of details, so we’re connecting some dots, perhaps inaccurately. But some reasons to say “yes” might include: you’re not really doing great work where you are and you’re in a dead-end situation for growth and opportunities, so this is a re-set; the new agency is world-class and even with a start-over your resume will take a big step forward; you would have direct working experiences with stars who will mentor you. If this sounds about right, the step back could make sense. We suggest that you ask a lot of questions to be really clear on the day to day reality you’d be walking into so you can reasonably assess what you’re getting into. It’s never inappropriate to ask for clarity as well as a vision for your future there. As they know you’re taking a step back, when could you expect a performance review and discussion at that time about advancement? Who are you reporting to? Will you have a permanent partner? If so, can you meet them? (‘No partner’ should be a warning sign, unless you’re a true lone wolf who prefers to work alone or you’re happy to change partners on every project. Most aren’t.) What’s the opportunity for interaction with the creative leaders? What accounts would you be working on? (BTW you can create opportunity on any kind of account, even “bad” ones, but if you’re looking at a steady diet of promo ads for a giant retailer, for instance, that’s a questionable situation.) Do your homework and it will become much clearer to you what to do.

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  • Stephen Curry

    My “reset” changed my life. No regrets. I left my ACD job and started over as a junior, with a book full of spec work. In the space of two years I was back on track and rising above my old salary. It seems like eons ago now, but here’s a column I wrote about it:

    That said, you can’t take that kind of risk for just any opportunity. In my case, I had a specific goal: to get the attention and confidence of some of the best creative directors in the south. Freelance allowed me (and the agency) to try each other out first. Be sure you can’t get what you need where you are before you throw away your seniority.


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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