communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.

12/25/2007

Getting a job in advertising

The business of communications is an especially attractive field these days in Romania with demand growing intensely and offer trying to keep up. However, as companies are waking up to the need to have specialists handle their communications, communication companies are waking up to the realization that two things have happened: the staffers they have are unable to keep up with the changes in comms and the overall manpower is simply not sufficient. More and more specialized needs are surfacing in comms and we are simply not ready to handle them from lack of knowledge and lack of people.

I have had in the past months more than 10 times heard my friends in comms asking where to get a good account, a good planner, a good designer. The answer is almost invariably “if you cannot poach them from your direct competition you need to go to the University and find them there”. Your choices are generally limited to one person and your strategy is always costing a lot: poaching means doubling the pay, hiring babes in the woods means huge training costs. The trouble lies even deeper though: the poached are old school people who will bring nothing new to the table, the newbies almost never come from the right background (I need to make this clear, I think designers should have design training, accounts should have marketing training, copywriters should have screenplay writing or journalism training, planner should have marketing comms, sociology or anthropology training).

In Romania this has led to a dire occurrence in comms HR: the under-qualified over-demanding newbie. These are people with no experience and (stress here) no training in comms who apply for specialized jobs and get them solely on the basis of their aspirations. You need only say you want to be an account, a planner, a designer and your potential paycheck jumps through the roof because there simply is no other way.

What makes the experience with these types of people especially sour is that although they have formally NO SKILL to perform their job, they evaluate their situation based on how much responsibility and money they are given. Practically they will leave if you don’t instantly provide them with the best desk, best accounts and best salary. And the reason this works is because they can jot down another job experience in their CV and get an even better-paid aspiration-based position at the next people-hungry agency.

I see this reflected in our work in 4 ways:
- we deliver crap work: since experienced people spend their time training the new ones in the OLD WAYS there is no evolution on the market
- we reduce the actual time spent on proactive work: because when you think you know everything and you don’t, mistakes occur and they need to be fixed, that’s retroactive work
- we increase the average salary for basic performance which leads to
- we create a generation of well-paid people who don’t know anything new thus effectively raising the retribution bar while lowering the performance bar

Now maybe it’s just me but that simply does not sound okay. I think people should be hired on know-how and paid on performance. The worst mistake you can make is ire them on aspirations and pay them on endurance.
Other thoughts?

6 comments:

Ralu the punker said...

You're definetly right, Bogdana... but these are still general opinions.
I've been asked many times what should a young graduate do in order to get a job. And by job I specifficaly mean junior copy, art exec or (my case) strategic rookie? Let's say you're determined, you know you're place but you also know what you're able to do, you label and position yourself very well... but still you're miles away from performing.
I say it's a HR problem to begin with... evaluating the appliant shouldn't be that shallow. And hireing the overdemanding newbie is lowering the team's value.
And it's also our special romanian skill of always knowing everything. I mean, anyone can advertise, right?

shk said...

We share the exact same problem in software development.

mike said...

who is here to blame? the young guns or the team leaders?
As a junior of course you have no work experience (although appropriate education should be on your CV), but if you don't get the right guidance/coaching from your team leader then you are stuck and you don't learn anything. Oh, you learn that you have to stay at work on a daily basis until 10PM, because the deadlines are tight (read: bad management).
You are kinda right Bogdana, maybe the juniors don't have the right attitude towards work, but with the wrong kind of leadership (or no leadership whatsoever) they won't get any better.

horia314 said...

Imho, you should try testing people who apply for a job. Give them a test project to work on (it could even be a minor project your team's working on, if you have reason to believe the person is actually good) and hire them after you see the finished product. Second, if word gets out that your hiring criteria are high, people won't flock to you, but the ones that will come will have "the right stuff". That's basically how programming shops do it in the more enlightened parts of our world. Really weeds out people who just say they're good from people who actually are good.

FreshTheFunkster said...

I have read this article by curiosity and as i was reading it i was realising that there`s people out there who REALLY think but i still see no solution, no action... just conclusions. Have i missed anything? I mean, ok, there are enough people who realised what`s wrong, so gather and start doing something really fast cuz right now, in this moment i see the fresh hired accountant watching tuning bulls@#t on youtube, listening to Akon and eating shaorma at the same time ... for the last 3 months :)) and it`s not funny! Action!

Anonymous said...

i think you are quite wrong in asking for the background. At my previous job there were 2 girls, both of them graduates from art school, both art directors, both lame. And if you check the background of the best known advertisers, you won't find much art, marketing or pr studies. you will find much passion and a lot of work.