The So Called Talent Crisis

You can buy this poster at The Keep Calm-o-matic. Click on the image to take you there.

You can buy this poster at The Keep Calm-o-matic. Click on the image to take you there.

You go to university, get an advanced degree, graduate, and then disappointed – no pissed – that the offered salaries aren’t what you think they should be, or worse, your talent is not valued. So says this piece in Digiday.

I get it. You’ve been told – no you listened to – all those experts (and educators) who said that the best education, nurturing the best talent, would land you in the job of your dreams with the salary and culture to go along with it.

You may be bringing some awesome new ideas and talent to the agency, but you just got out of school.

You have no experience. You are unproven.

You have never sat across from a client who is telling you, “I want something marvelous and innovative”, but is a) unwilling to pay (much) for it, and b) has a specific idea which he will personally art direct. To. Death.

And it doesn’t matter who you are, that breathtaking portfolio – created in the dreamy (albeit competitive) world of the classroom – has nothing to do with reality.

The creative that sells stuff is, unfortunately, reality.

Oh, I know what it’s like to know you have a lot more bankable talent than anyone is willing to pay for. But you have to learn the ropes. And that’s not the old way to do business; it is the way to do business.

When clients are squeezing every single cent out of an agency, there isn’t a whole lot of cash to go around. Especially for someone who is extraordinary but hasn’t a clue on how agencies make money.

So I don’t have a lot of sympathy for new grads who aren’t willing to do the ugly work at an agency.

Ugly is where reality lies. If you want to live in a fantasy, stay pissed. If you want to be in advertising, get real. Go to work for a crappy salary (agency salaries are always crappy at the beginning) to get some real experience.

If you pay attention and drop the arrogance, you’ll learn really important things – like where your talents can take you; learning to do what you do efficiently (aka make a profit); aligning with the people who will teach you the reality of agency life and how to work it; and how to really get what you want without whining.

Talent crisis? I think not. It’s just that the talented aren’t willing to invest one second beyond graduation in learning. It is an investment, but one with a big payoff if you’re willing to do the work, and yes, even work in a place that doesn’t have a game room or a keg of micro-brew in the break room.

Take it from me kids, I’ve been in the business nearly 40 years (even kept up with technology too – unimaginable at my age, I know) and there’s still a ton to learn.

And by the way, there are a million ad folks out there – with real, live experience – willing to teach. It’s the cheapest, most useful class you’ll ever attend.