Tue 30 Sep 2008
(Why spend a fortune going to some university, beauty college or ad school? Here’s everything you need to know about getting a great job in advertising. Kindly make your tuition checks payable to Patrick Scullin.)
Next to dying a slow, painful, miserable death while “MacArthur Park” is playing on the radio, hunting for a job has to be one of the most traumatic events we humans ever face.
Because changing jobs is always frightening, let’s discuss the stages of job hunting in as intellectual a fashion as we can muster on short notice.
Stage one: “I’ve got to get out of this hellhole.”
How can you tell you’re in a go-nowhere job? Be on the lookout for little signals, like a boss who continually tells you, “You’re in a go-nowhere job, pal, and as long as I’m in charge, I’ll see to it your genius is squashed like a fat mosquito hitting a ‘67 Buick going 120 mph!”
Or, a representative from local Lumberjack’s Union who pleads with you to stop generating ideas. “For God’s sake, man,” he says with tears welling-up in his eyes, “how many more Foamcore trees must we senselessly slaughter before you’ll quit this madness? Can’t you see, you numbskull, you’re in a go-nowhere job?”
Whatever drives you to the conclusion it’s time to go, it’s time to get on to stage two of the job hunt: “Getting the ol’ book out and about.”
When it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter if you’re Lee Clow or Joe Blow, we all live and die by our work. Of course, Clow’s got the better reel, but he can’t touch Blow’s print or flash banners work, no sir.
The best way to put together a terrific portfolio is to collect samples of the very best work. Conservative people believe the work should be restricted only to those pieces that you yourself actually created, while the more liberal approach embraces the idea that anything created by one of your own species is fair game for inclusion into your book. Whatever. The main thing is to put together items that can fit into a portfolio case (which generally restricts the inclusion of actual-size billboard samples).
Many job hunters wonder if they should have headhunters working on their behalf? Yes, by all means! How else can you find out about those incredible opportunities with “the next Fallon” (which happens to be in Texarkana of all places) or “the great creative revolution happening over at Lackluster, Mediocrity & Snores.”
Do whatever it takes to get your book seen by whomever, whenever in wherever. As they say in the penguin exhibit at Hank’s Appliance Repair Shop, ‘You can’t win the lottery if you don’t have a ticket–– preferably the winning ticket.’
Once the potential agency has seen your book, they’ll want to see the person who owns it. Which brings us to stage three of snagging the big job: “The Meet & Greet.”
Most creative people despise interviewing because it generally involves answering tough questions like: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years, and if you are a time traveller, please also give me the name of the winning horse in the Kentucky Derby and the Super Bowl and World Series Champs.”
“Who was known as ‘The Perky President’, and what was the name of his Secretary of Defense?”
“If two trains leave Chicago, one going 45 miles per hour and the other getting 2.45 miles per gallon of diesel fuel, which one will have the higher trade-in value?”
“What is your creative philosophy, and how does it mesh with the notion of existentialism?”
“You want coffee, a Coke, or something? Remember, there is only one right answer.”
The secret to successful interviewing is to interview right back at them. When they ask a question, it’s no time to play defense–– fire one back. Here’s a sample from an interview I had back in ‘95:
HE: So, Patrick, tell me about yourself.
ME: Hey, where you’d get the cool picture of the ugly lady with the dorky kids? That’s hilarious, man!
HE: This picture? That’s, uh, that’s a picture of my family.
ME: Oh, uh, really? Well, aren’t they the handsome bunch! I don’t suppose you work many late nights, no, sirree––not with a great gaggle of good lookers like that to get home to…
For some reason, I didn’t get that particular job. They were looking for someone with more package goods experience or something.
Another interviewing secret is not to tell them about those voices that only you can hear. Because in a funny way, many people find it hard to believe pets and inanimate objects have chosen you as their primary communication vehicle. These people may be jealous and may not want to hear about the upcoming swift sword of justice you will soon be delivering at their command. Evil doers must pay!
Providing they love you and your work, you’re on to stage four of scoring your dream ad job: “Negotiating the Package.”
Me, I’m old fashioned, so I generally think paychecks are a nice perk. With a little clever negotiating on your part, maybe you can swing one of these “my time for your money” arrangements, meaning you’ll get paychecks on a fairly regular basis. Pretty sweet, eh?
Some other niceties to negotiate are free electricity, Christmas day off, four tons of gold bouillon and an 18 pack of Knox Beef Bullion (it’s like drinking a steer). Usually you’ll get three out of the four; most employers are sticklers about working on Christmas day. Go ahead and take the job because even if it does turn out to be another hellhole, soon enough a headhunter will call telling you about nirvana in Texarkana.
Happy hunting, and remember pets and inanimate objects are watching so be good.