5 important considerations for finding your next ad job
You might be a student trying to figure out which agencies to target, an in-demand copywriter debating between offers or someone who’s simply trying to identify their next move. No matter what it is, there’s so many agencies in the world that it can be hard to find the right one for you.
Sure, you could check out Ad Week’s list of this year’s top agencies, or you could count awards and see who’s received the most Lions at Cannes, but picking agencies based on awards or accolades isn’t the best way to find the right fit. In fact, just because an agency has won a bunch of awards doesn’t mean that you’ll be on that award-winning account. Every agency has clients that win them prestige, and other clients that pay the bills, so don’t assume anything.
When looking for ad gigs, I think there’s a few more tangible things you should be thinking about. Life isn’t all about fancy names and champagne bottles in the French Riviera. As nice as that sounds, keep these things in mind when trying to find the right agency for you.
Know if the agency is currently creating ‘good’ work
I don’t believe that awards truly matter. That being said, awards are one way you can help tell if an agency is creating quality work. Agencies in the ad industry have a habit of being hot and then going cold. If an agency is recently winning a lot of awards, thats a good sign they’re probably a little more hot these days. If it’s a big name and they aren’t receiving a lot of press, they might be on a cold-streak and not producing their best work.
Paying attention to the agency flow is valuable, but it’s not the only thing you should consider.
More important than the latest trend is knowing if the work the agency is doing resonates with you. Does it feel like the type of stuff you’d want to create? Which takes me to our next point…
Know what kind of work do you want to do
It’s more than deciding between digital and traditional advertising these days. There’s agencies that only create real life experiences, some that focus purely on social and others that do branding solely for start ups. There’s shops that build digital products and physical prototypes. There’s some that create integrated campaigns and others that primarily sell tv commercials. All in all, it’s a complex mess of shops with a few degrees of separation, which is why it’s good to know what that agency does and what you want to do beforehand.
Think about the type of work you want to do and try to identify agencies that think and create the way you want to create. Also consider the type of work you currently have in your portfolio. If your book is filled with 30 second commercials, you might learn more by going to a shop that builds websites. Besides, you’ll be a stronger creative the more diverse your skills are.
Know who will you be working for
Sometimes working at a less hot agency, but working for the right creative director can do more for your career than working at the big name shop on their most unrewarding client. Who you work for will help determine if you get to be portfolio-worthy (and award worthy) projects. As you interview for jobs, try to get a better idea of the creative director you’d be working under. Do you think they will be interested in helping you become a better copywriter? Will they help mentor you? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then it might be a smart decision.
Know the agencies mission and find one you believe in
What exactly is an agencies mission? It could be the agencies overall lens for how it approaches work, its point of view on creativity or its philosophy when it comes to how it treats its employees. No matter what their specific mission is, it’s a great way to get a better idea about what the agency actually cares about.
It’s important to find an agency that values the same things you do. Why? It’s an indicator that you’ll be working at a place that (hopefully) energizes you. They’ll be more likely produce works that is true to their mission, and consequently, find clients that appeal to your creative ambitions. At the same time, if they’re energizing you, you’ll come up with better ideas and create better work.
Know that it’s some place you can grow
The most important thing you should consider is also the most obvious. Is the agency you’re looking at somewhere you can grow? You might not know until you’ve had an interview and have a better idea of the actual work you’ll be doing, but growth is more important than anything else. Also, don’t think of growth as simply portfolio work (although, you should definitely get portfolio work out of a job). Growth can include learning more about leadership, having more opportunities to get in front of clients or simply learning new skills you don’t already have. Either way, every job should be one that helps you learn, grow and get better at your craft.
Remember work/life balance
Lastly, remember to think about your life outside of the agency. Many agencies do a terrible job about balancing it, but not all of them. A healthy balance is a lot more important than you might realize too. If we’re always working, we’re not out in the world finding new creative stimulus and inspiration, and thus risk repeating the same tired ideas over and over again.
As you start identifying the right agency for you. Keep these tips in mind. Most importantly, the best agency for you is the one that feels right. Good luck!