Impacting the critical career discussion you’re NOT in

Yup. It’s true. You are not in one of the most important conversations of your career. It’s the kind of conversation that gets you promoted, earns raises, or keeps you around when layoffs are in the air.

The one that might even be happening right now, as you read this. I’m talking about the chat happening between your boss and your client’s boss about you, you, you. Or maybe’s it’s your boss’s boss. Or boss’s boss’s boss… It’s between two people that may or may not really know you and what you do on a day-to-day basis.

Story time!

Before yours truly got into new business… And before I started helping agencies find senior-level leaders, yours truly was an account guy. I’d worked at big agencies on big, household name brands for many years. And for the most part, really enjoyed it! It was fun. But that ended when the CMO at my client told the senior-most account guy (my boss’s boss at the time) said, “I like Steve, but he sells too much.”

Uh-oh. This, my friends, is a body blow. Not fatal, mind you. But not good. Basically, I was told that while I wasn’t being asked OFF the business, I was not going to get promoted ON it.

The point to this tale is that you aren’t in that room when that quiet conversation is being held. But you CAN do things to help make sure the conversation is a positive one versus a negative one. Two quick thoughts:

Do good work

So much easier said than done, right? But pretty damn important. And it really doesn’t matter what discipline you’re in: account management, account planning, creative, media, digital… Heck, even client side.

Of course, quality in our business can be a very subjective thing. But generally speaking, it’s going to be something you’re proud of and excited about. And there’s always the non-subjective side: results. I’m NOT talking just about revenue growth. There are PLENTY of other ways to identify success. Think about your target here. What does your target consider success? A blog post for later, perhaps.

Don’t be a jerk

Man, does it make a difference. The reason I was moved into new business at that agency was because those around me perceived me as a good guy and I kept my nose clean. I wasn’t a jerk. People who charge more for their time might call this “reputation management.” Whatever you call it, it’s a crucial part of your career if you want to earn the big bucks. Particularly in the world of professional services.

I did a little bit of research on The Google, and was surprised by two things: #1: being a jerk seems to be male gender-specific. And #2: there’s no writing on how to not be one at work. Just lots of advice on how to deal with them when you run into them. Both topics are blog-worthy. But again, I digress.

So, is it really that simple? Well, no. But if you can do the two things listed above fairly consistently, the conversation you’re not in about your career prospects could go pretty well.


How paper plates and beer help identify agency staff and new business

Who doesn’t love smart product design that does more than just the usual? Two quick examples: a paper plate that helps you lose weight. And beer packaging that doesn’t kill fish. I wonder if the same can’t be done when an agency hires new talent at their shop. Here are two quick thoughts that can help you add the right staff or add the right client to your agency.

Build more new business relationships through better employee on-boarding.

For any new job I’ve been in, seems like the first day features ye olde filling out of standard HR paperwork. I wonder if it isn’t possible to work in another step: capture the names, contact information and other relevant detail of potential agency new business prospects from the new staffer’s past. Typically, this will mean past clients. But could mean other important lead generators for the agency: agency suppliers, media, friends in other professional services, and many more.

These new contacts could be added to the mailing list for the press release announcing the new hire. I’m not suggesting these new staffers become the agency’s new business team. Simply pointing out that there may be an opportunity to share exciting news of the hire with your latest staffer’s world. As the agency proves itself to the new team member over time, there may be further opportunity to keep a former client informed of what’s been going on with one of her favorite past agency people. And at the same time, build a relationship with this prospective agency client.

This same thing can be applied to…wait for it…friends looking for a new job…

Identify more like-minded, potential new hires through better on-boarding, too.

You’ve gone to the effort of finding someone you love. Someone you are hiring, in part, because of what they can do for your agency and for your culture. As you hire one new person, you just might have another job opening or two. This new person will know people just like them. And this terrific new hire just might know someone else looking to work at a great agency.

These ideas might work better six months from the hire date.

Waiting does three things for you: 1) it gives you an excuse to check in with the professional to see how things are going… Which 2) helps reinforce that you care. And… 3) you just might get a more enthusiastic response and interest from the now up-and-running member of your agency’s team.

After all, people’s personal relationships are sacred and valuable things. Asking for a referral six months after the hire date gives everyone a chance to more fully realize everyone’s happiness level.

Who knew paper plates and beer packaging could lead to smarter ad agency hiring and new business practices?

How to identify ad agencies that will hire you

Howdy, agency job-seeker! So, you’re looking for a new job. One that’s better than what you have now. While of course, you just way want to talk with an experienced, friendly recruiter… there are lots of other ways to find an agency that will hire you.

But for now, why don’t you read a few hundred on two simple ways that just may help separate you from all the other folks looking for that same job. Because you have a dramatically better chance of getting the job if you’re one of six versus one of sixty.

Hint – it ain’t the job boards. Many of the candidates I speak with – terrific, well qualified professionals – send their resume in blindly to a posting they see on LinkedIN, for instance…only to never hear from the agency in question.


Thankfully, you’re reading this post. So now, you can get ahead of that by doing two things:

Pay attention to agencies that are winning business.

This ain’t rocket science. Agencies typically don’t need anyone unless they’ve just won a piece of new business. Keep on top of the top resources: Ad Age, Adweek, AgencySpy, trade magazines (by industry). You might also want to keep the newspapers in mind, too. And, of course, your local business journals.

Pay attention to agencies that have just hired someone.

Because sometimes that means the agency wooed someone from an agency that just might now have an opening. And they might be looking for someone like you! You can see these things in the sources listed above. But with a heavier emphasis on local / regional news sources. Most business journals and dailies have a new job listing. Crain’s, for instance, lists this section as People on the Move.

You can also use LinkedIN for this kind of thing, too. Your mileage will definitely vary there. Typically, you just see friends who have changed jobs. But surely you have friends who have jobs you might want or could keep an eye peeled for you… But I digress.

Find more triggers, too.

Hope this inspires you to look for other triggers that signify an agency will be hiring someone with your skill set. This is absolutely the kind of thing that will improve your shot at getting a job. For instance, when a discipline head is hired, that often leads to staff changes underneath that professional. Layoffs, even, can spell agency staff change, because the agency is trying to optimize their resources (and you might have something they don’t already have.)

Should you have any questions or would like to discuss your career and related interests, feel free to contact me at your convenience. Thanks!



New CMO brought on at Land O’Lakes

Hello, ad agency new business maven and seeker of the very best agency talent… you should know that a new Chief Marketing Officer has joined CPG giant Land O’Lakes.  And…he’s an agency professional. Tim Scott was leading mcgarrybowen Chicago and has been in account management at other Second City shops like DDB, JWT and FCB.

What? You’re not one of those agencies, but have exceptionally strong CPG chops? Still worth knowing, my friend. But like you, I do suspect these shops and/or those that know Tim will have a better shot at the business. But how is that different than any other pitch? Anywho…


Experian beefs up with new CMO

Experian Consumer Services just hired a new Chief Marketing Officer. And, she’s one of us! Kristen Simmons has joined the company as the new marketing leader, marketing products & services that help people understand and manage their credit.

Before joining Experian, she has had experience on Ford and Mazda. And…wait for it…she was in new business at Y&R on the west coast. In the article above, she deftly compares cars to credit scores. The reflective quality is similar, yet different in it’s visibility. But we digress.

I suspect your agency will need financial services chops, however, and be able to tell a pretty good story to get on this savvy professional’s radar screen.