Rejection and Persistence in the Agencies

13th June 2014 by Charlie Smith

Rejection and Persistence in the Agencies

As we all know the quest for obtaining a job in any industry is never what one might call easy; in fact it is darn right difficult especially within the creative, marketing and advertising industries. The process can take months, perpetually knocking your confidence until you are shivering in a corner over whelmed by your own personal failure. Fear not for I am here to help advise and guide you into getting into the agency of your choice. 

So you’ve finished university and you’re ecstatic about securing yourself an internship where you seem to have far more of a workload then the people who actually get paid while you get zilch, having to walk two hours to work and back every day and have turned to Freeganism as your only source of food.  You finally secure a PAID role at an agency that is vaguely in the right industry but you would have taken anything at this point. After a year or two of revelling in your 19k salary you’ve hit your mid-late twenties and it has dawned on you that you are not doing the work you want to do. They agency isn’t right, the culture is abysmal and everyday bores you to tears. It’s time to make a change, no? YES…and here’s how…

So let’s say you’re an Account Manager who has joined an experiential agency but you desperately want to join a top ten design and packaging agency.  You’ve sent your C.V out pretty much everywhere and you’ve had no response. Even though you have two years solid agency experience in client services and you have a 1st in your degree in brand management.  The thing about these agencies is that they have so many applicants and recruiters sending people with more experience than you. Thus they won’t consider someone who hasn’t got the necessary experience in the necessary channels... There is an answer but it will not happen by smarting up your C.V and schmoozing at industry events.

The strategic approach would to be find an integrated agency that has an experiential and a design offering within its remit.  Your experiential experience will be desirable to the employer and will give you are much stronger application for the role. You get the role and yes you will be doing experiential work which you now hate and resent but see as a stepping stone to the end goal. Slowly your Directors get to know you and you let it be known your love and passion for packaging design. You are already in the agency at this point showing what a fine Account Manager you are that they are in a much more confident position to let you help out a bit on the next packaging account. Just a little bit at first gradually giving you more and more responsibilities until its two years later and your work is 80% packaging and you are in a much better position to approach the big dogs of the packaging design industry.

What happens if you’ve done all this and STILL they won’t interview you let alone give you a job? Then you realise it’s because you yourself don’t have top ten packaging experience so you can’t join a top ten agency. Is all the previous work wasted? No you have a strong C.V. at this point and options are not closed for you. Apply to the mid-sized packaging agencies that have perhaps not got legendary status yet. Give the role everything you have – perhaps helping to establish new relationships with clients and driving the agency into more success… Fast forward two / three years and you’ve proven yourself a diligent, hungry and desirable candidate for any packaging design agency. You won’t need to be doing the searching as you will be headhunted so much that sometimes you want LinkedIn to have never existed.

Persistence is imperative to rejection but you must learn the reasons to each rejection. Is it that you don’t have the right experience in which case follow the above advice... or is it that culturally you are a bad fit? Well what does that mean? It feels like you are back at school when people are picking friends and you are not in the popular group as ‘culturally’ you are not right. Perhaps back in those disastrous school years you would take that to heart and wallow in front of your mirror in self-pity. Nowadays it makes sense not to work somewhere you are just not going to fit in... Why would you want to? Your work takes up the majority of your life so you need to be somewhere that you will enjoy and ultimately be happy.

There are so many great agencies out there all with very different cultures and ways of working. If you like to work autonomously then perhaps the massive, global, process-led agencies are not going to suit you. So what I’m trying to say is take into account how an agency works internally before you sign that contract. You need an enjoyable work environment balanced with an agency you admire the work of.


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