Thursday, October 14, 2021

Help Needed

I suppose it should come as no surprise that I'm an inveterate Help Wanted ad watcher. No surprise because the very first few ads I wrote were Help Wanted ads for Bernard Hodes recruitment Advertising. I read this week that Bernie passed on to that Human Resources Waiting Room in the sky. RIP Bernie.

I read Help Wanted ads because they have proven to be a good barometer of the industry. And I've made it a point to stay abreast of advertising for the past 40 years. And I'm only 44.

The Help Wanted ads show up in my social media feed and so naturally I read them. Not because I'm looking for a new gig, I happen to like where I'm at. Though it is often creatively stifling. And that, I'm told is not uncommon in this data driven world of slap dash advertising subject to constant A/B testing and the ceaseless need for .1% optimization. 

Oh to be writing a TV spot or an Outdoor campaign!

Thankfully I'm no longer looking to put work in my portfolio. Just neatly wrapped stacks of bills in my Stay Out Of A Dirty Nursing Home Retirement Fund.

With regards to the many Help Wanted ads I see these days, it's hard not to notice the one thing employers are not seeking out in new employees -- experience. 

To wit, I've seen ads like this:

ART DIRECTOR -- Growing digital agency seeks Art Director. No exp. necessary. Must be familiar with all social media platforms and proficient with ________, _______, _______, and________, plus __________.  (I don't know the names of design and illustration and photo applications, I stopped caring after they did away with Quark Express)

SENIOR COPYWRITER -- Worldwide agency seeks Senior Copywriter steeped in automobiles. Must have excellent presentation skills, and a portfolio of award winning work. 1-2 years experience preferred.

JUNIOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR --  starting salary $65K

Suffice it to say, the paradigm has shifted.

When I started out in this business, there were no openings for juniors in the Creative Department. None. 

To get a job as a copywriter or as an art director you had to have experience. And in order to have experience, you had to have a job. A Catch 22 that sent me scurrying to the minor leagues of Recruitment Advertising, "Meet the challenges of tomorrow, today."

There was a very good reason why the business operated that way. Because juniors in the business, by nature, suck. I sucked. My friends sucked. We all sucked. We didn't think we sucked, but in hindsight we all admit we did. 

We sucked. 

It took years for us to work past the suckage. For me, it took decades. And even that's debatable.

How will this new rob-the-cradle system work out for advertising and the communications business in general?  Time will tell. A decade from now we'll look back at the books and render a decision. 

Not the awards books, the holding company accounting books.

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