Senior Level Industry Experience… Available NOW!

28th May 2014 by Adam Toctan

Senior Level Industry Experience… Available NOW!

This may sound like you and if it is then don’t fret. It can become very disconcerting and to a degree rather worrying when after years of sustained and successful employment, usually within household industry names, you find yourself out of work.

Sadly it’s something that as a head-hunter I see all too often in our industry. The names of good clients that have now become candidates. Often is the case that these ‘candidates / clients’ are the best people to work with as they have superb industry knowledge, know that it makes sense not to close doors and keep their eyes open and appreciate the importance of giving detailed and prompt feedback whilst maintaining constant contact with their head-hunter; if only ALL my candidates could follow this rule of thumb!

OK; so say that you are one of these individuals. What do you do? Well, since the recent recession (2008) gone are the days of big pay checks and boozy client lunches. Sorry to say but if you are used to earning 150k the likelihood is that you may have to take a salary at up to half that. The flurry of roles has all but disappeared and the ability to hear of senior movement in the industry on a weekly basis has been replaced with quiet words directly from CEO to CEO both to save on any adverse publicity and the potential of large recruitment fees. In truth there are not as many senior level appointments as there were 10 years ago.

So what options do you have and how should you prepare for your potential interviews?

1. Go at it alone? Scary; especially if you are used to working for a large group owned business but all great ideas start somewhere. If you are good, well connected and have years of experience why not become a gun for hire? If the idea of going at it alone doesn’t float your boat why not team up with a similar individual in the same boat. Pool your ideas together and use each other’s talents. Who knows where you could be in 5 years time?!

2. Take a drop in salary / level? This can be tough when you are used to having the title of MD / CSD and then end up looking at SAD / GAD titles; but who will have the last laugh when you are earning and others are not? Its not always reciprocated by agencies to take on someone at a lower level than they ideally want for obvious reasons; ‘You will get bored / it’s a stepping stone / it doesn’t allow for you to move up the ranks / you will want my job!’ are just  few of the reasons... However for each of these rebuffs there are a plethora of reasons why they SHOULD employ a more senior individual.

3. Create a fresh and new online profile. LinkedIn is the go to site for most employers no matter what experience and level. Change the photo, update the contact details, shout about your achievements and make it scream ‘employ me / I’m available!’ Keep this only profile shortish; imagine a 1.5 / 2 page CV – NO MORE! Then update the CV accordingly with the same information. Again NO LONGER than 2 pages.

4. This may be obvious but just because you have worked in the industry don’t believe that everyone owes you something when you go for a meeting and that they should know that you can do a role; just because you have done it for 6 years. You will need to work just as hard as anyone... Prepare, prepare, prepare. Research the people you are meeting, find things out that you have in common, and go to town on your general prep / questions. Be HUMBLE. You would be surprised about the amount of senior people that approach an interview with an ‘I am awesome’ viewpoint to only be shot down with feedback of ‘well why are they out of work?'

5. Don’t lose faith in the head-hunters that are looking on your behalf. It’s not easy for them either so it’s important to keep them up to date as to what you are doing, who you are seeing, any updates they should know if for example you have decided to take a drop in salary expectations or that you are prepared to widen your search criteria. You will want to keep these guys on side as they ultimately may hold the key to your success.

6. Use your ‘little black book’. As a senior member of the design community it should be jam packed full of names and numbers from all your meetings and jaunts out on the town, both agency contacts and clients side contacts all of whom you would honestly like to speak to you. Don’t feel afraid or feel it awkward to call up and say ‘I’m available!’ It could be the one call you make that lands a 6 months contract.

7. Oh, finally remember NOT to knock your current / last agency. It’s easy to bang on about how you were the saint and saviour of a company only to be thrown on the heap when the going gets tough; but would you honestly hire someone with this attitude? The answer is no. Be gracious in defeat and view this as a new chapter in your career and life. Good luck.


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