Thursday, January 15, 2009

Surviving the recession

Recently I've heard a lot from talented young creatives who have a difficult time getting a job. It makes me sad cause it reminds me of the time when I was young, talented, in a recession, out of work and running out of money. But no matter how difficult that time was, I kept on trying. Sometimes you have to be really determined to stay in advertising.

For some it might seem like a downward spiral that you cannot get out of. The problem is this: all agencies had to cut back on their expenses and probably fired some creatives by now. The agencies that managed to keep all of its staff is certainly not taking the risk of hiring new employees. It's hard, but that's just how things are by now.

The reason I'm telling this is not to demotivate people, but to warn all jobless young talent not to make the same mistakes that I made. Actually, the only way to 'survive' the recession is to put a big stroke through your initial ambitions and expectations. It means being more open to other opportunities. I'm going to tell what I did wrong when I got fired in 2002, in the midst of the recession, and what I should have done.

1. I wanted to go for a top of the notch agency. Which is very ambitious, but not realistic in times of crisis. I'd say go for any agency that pays money. In these times there's no shame in having a paid job, even if you're forced to make shit work. One of our best young teams worked at a less known agency before and they're doing pretty good now.
2. I wanted to stay in Holland. No matter where you live, your country or your region is too small during a crisis. There are lots of opportunities abroad and in some countries you seem more interesting if you're from abroad (simply because you're different).
3. I became a freelancer. Which is too difficult if you haven't got at least ten years of experience in the business. There are exceptions, but these exceptions already won a few Cannes Lions. And telling people you're a freelancer means the same as unable to find a job.
4. I made debts. And then I thought of going for a regular job at a callcentre. But I regret that I didn't do that before. If you're out of money, just go for any job. Even if it has nothing to do with advertising. The funny thing was, as soon as I started to make a living again, I got more self esteem at job interviews at agencies. I only worked at the callcentre a couple of months cause I finally got a job offer.

Furthermore, lot of agencies try to make creatives feel that they might offer you a job somewhere in the future and that they just have to keep in touch. There might be a lot of 'almost offers' from agencies. These might be realistic chances but don't stick around 'almost getting' a job. The best ting to do is to set a deadline for yourself. A date after which you promise yourself to do things differently. So after this deadline you either go abroad, get any job you can get your hands on or...and that's my last advise: go back to school. Going to the Miami Ad School is what got me back on track for sure. Taking a step backward was actually a step forward when I look back at it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I'm the fool who left his great job in the mid of a crisis... hehe. Good words Robin!

12:36 pm  
Blogger Robert Luciani said...

I will definitely be taking some of these words to heart when it comes down to my final quarter next year at MAS.

6:34 am  

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