Tuesday, January 29, 2013
There is a saying among recruiters and human resources people that a candidate is only as good as his or her last job. That is why your most important job is the one you have now.
When looking for a job, all companies, not just ad agencies, are looking to see how successful you are likely to be if you join them. They measure your potential based on your previous successes, including your current job. You have to be successful where you are now – even if you hate it.
If it turns out that you are in the wrong place, you must do the best you can do where you are. Never give up. You must build a record of achievement. And, most important, you must be able to describe that success as you interview. (It is why people who just complain and are negative on an interview get dinged.)
Even if the job has been misrepresented, your boss is an idiot, your client is impossible or all of the above, you must achieve success where you are and be able to articulate those achievements. You should be able to tell why you are looking in just a few words, without being negative, but at the same time tell what you have accomplished, even if you have been there only a short time.
The trick in moving forward is to know what you want and to be able to make connections between what you have previously done and what you are looking for. If you want something that you don’t have, e.g. if you are on the client side and want an agency (or vise-versa), you know that ad agencies are reluctant to hire you. However, if you connect what you have been doing to the essence of what you want, you may find yourself with a job offer. For instance, if you are a client, it isn't enough to say that your favorite part of the job is working with the agency; you must be able to convince agency people that you belong on their side of the business. Or, in another instance, if you want package goods and don’t have it but are able to relate your strategic experience to the account you are interviewing for in very specific terms, you stand a far better chance of success.
I have written (ranted and raved, actually) about the bugaboo of category experience. But if you can make what you are doing now relevant to where you want to go, you may succeed in getting a new category.
The trick is to articulate what you do in a successful manner and relate it to the person/account you are interviewing with. Making difficult changes can happen by the force of your personality. I have known many people who have done the almost impossible – moving from client to agency, from non-package goods right to Procter or Unilever, etc. They do it because when they interview they are definite, sure of themselves and can convince their interviewers that taking a chance on them is no risk at all. The way they do it is by articulating the connections between where they are, what they accomplished and where they want to be. They make their successes relevant to the potential new job.
Sometimes, it has to be a multi-step process. I have known people who have taken a step back in their careers, both in title and in money so that they get what they really want. I have always believed that in a career, there is an important thread and that one thing leads to another.
However, in evaluating any new job, every person must ask themselves these questions: "What if I hate this job and leave it quickly? What will it get me in terms of my career? Where will it lead me?" And, finally, ask yourself if you can succeed.
Just remember, even if you hate your current job, it is critical to your future that you do it to the best of your ability.
Posted by Paul Gumbinner at 1:08 PM