5 Things That Suck About Job Postings for Creatives

The obsession with levels over compensation.

 Since no one wants to post what they are willing to pay as a salary for a job (it’s rare), the shorthand for cheap/affordable/expensive becomes junior/mid-level/senior. I think this is a bit self-defeating. I’m not sure how to solve this problem but it seems to me if you need a job done, get the best person who will accept what you are paying.  Wouldn’t it be great to see a post that says, ‘Hey I need a great writer to shit out headlines for an Internet Startup, I’m willing to pay X”. If no one responds to you, up the offer. If people DO respond and you see a portfolio you like, offer the job to that person!  Easy peasy.

Years of experience should be the last factor of the equation when it comes to hiring creatives. Maybe I’m being naive when it comes to recruiting, but it seems to me that when you hire a newbie without a track record, you’re giving someone a chance to start a career and you’re on the side of the angels. It may or may not work out, but you gave someone an opportunity and it was up to them to make something of it. Conversely, when you reach out to someone older, try not to just assume they are expensive! Feel them out. Have a conversation and see if the fit is right. You might just land a ton of years of experience for pennies on the dollar and help in the fight against ageism in advertising…and you’re STILL on the side of the angels. Cursory glances at ‘levels’ should not be the main factor in hiring. Talent should win the day.

Weird specificity.

I see a lot of posts like these: MUST HAVE NORWEGIAN CLOCK MANUFACTURING WORK IN YOUR PORTFOLIO.  Really? I firmly believe that any creative worth his salt can work on ANY category. When I started in advertising I worked on a toy account and they had women working on the girl’s toys and men working on the boy’s toys. Management believed that women couldn’t possibly make a commercial about robot action figures and hey, if I got a Barbie assignment, I’d be stumped. Silly, right? Hire a good creative, brief them with all the relevant information, let them ask questions, do their research and get out of their way. 9 times out of 10 you won’t be disappointed.

I was at a party the other night and was making small talk with a stranger who told me he was the Marketing Officer of a small bike manufacturer. When he found out I was in advertising, he confessed that he stopped hiring agencies to work on his brand.  He had two reasons: 1) the price. And 2) that the creative was so niche that no ‘big city’ creative could do it. The first reason I completely get, given the landscape of the industry.  A lot of companies are taking creative in-house for cost-saving reasons. But the second?  That a ‘big city’ creative couldn’t write an ad to sell a fucking bike? I don’t buy it for a second. I’ll say it again, properly briefed any creative can work on any product in any category. FIGHT ME ON THIS. I’ll be here in the corner SELLING BIKES WITH STELLAR CREATIVE THAT TALKS TO A NICHE MARKET.

Asking if you can do ‘social’.

Jesus Christ, people act like making Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and Snapchat Campaigns are like the secret art of turning base metals into gold. It’s kind of insulting.

THEM: “Do you have “coloring book’ experience?

ME: “Uh, yeah.  I’ve colored in many coloring books.”

THEM: “Yes, but this is for ‘adult’ coloring books.  They have ‘mandalas’ instead of pictures of My Little Pony.”

ME: Yeah. That’s fine. No problem.

THEM: I don’t see any ‘mandala coloring book’ stuff in your portfolio though…


Here’s the thing about Social:  It’s just a god-damn template. As long as you have the template–you can make SOMETHING creative to go into the template. Or, maybe find a new way to use the template? Creatively? Using your ‘thinking bone’? That is if they haven’t changed the template in the last 15 minutes. Which, by the way, they have.  Just now. Congratulations. You’re behind the zeitgeist, now.

Rockstars, Ninjas and Unicorns.

Do you know how bad it has to get when you make a person hate the words ‘rockstar’, ‘ninja’ AND ‘unicorn’? SUPER BAD, GUYS. Rockstars play rock and roll!  Which, according to Wikipedia is “a popular musical style, that can be seen in movies, in fan magazines and on television, and has influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, and language! In addition, rock and roll may have contributed to the civil rights movement because both African-American and white American teens enjoyed the music.”

That’s COOL GUYS! And now shitty recruiters are using it to describe some high-performing, Cannes Lion-laden creative who just might be ready to “jam” (ROCKSTAR WORD!) along with your agency’s mission statement that consists of “Random Verb+Unreachable Target+Unrealistic Outcome”! So, yeah. I hate Rockstars now.

But not as much as I hate Unicorns, the mythical creatures of the kingdom of LinkedIndior! A ‘Unicorn’ is that rare candidate that somehow has every single qualification you are looking for, no matter how specific and ridiculous! Looking for an award-winning Art Director with specific experience in Norwegian Clock Manufacturing related Social Posts? Is she fluent in French? And UNIX? Is she a successful entrepreneur on the side? Can she read music as well? Oh, and she should be about 5’ 9” too! Oh, and she wants to be paid in praise and Twizzlers! So good luck with your search oh Recruiter of LinkedIndior… because like the mythical Unicorns of Earth, you’ll never fucking find one.

The Ninjas.

Let’s not forget the Ninjas. When I was a kid, there was a show on NBC called The Master, and I LOVED THIS SHOW.  the adventures of John Peter McAllister played by Lee Van Cleef, a suspiciously non-Japanese aging ninja master, and his young pupil, Max Keller played by another suspiciously non-Japanese actor Timothy Van Patten. Most episodes focus on the mismatched pair driving around in a custom van, ninja-ing the fuck out of people.  It was awesome and I wanted to be a ninja for at least 3 years because of it. Now, of course, LinkedIn ruined that for me.

Why? Because, according to a LinkedIn study from 2010, use of the word ‘ninja’ in job titles soared between 2007 and 2009.  And it’s still going strong.

Here are some the Ninjas I’ve found on LinkedIn with a quick search.  None of these people drive around in a van ninja-ing the fuck out of people. AND I DON’T THINK THAT’S RIGHT.

Media Effectiveness Ninja

Multidisciplinary Ninja (of the Vague clan!)

Creative Ninja

Legal Ninja

Logistic Ninja

Email Marketing Ninja

Transformation Ninja

Internet Marketing Ninja Rockstar (a two-fer!)

Unstoppable Creative Ninja

IT Ninja

Video Ninja

Event Ninja

You get it.

Ironically, people are using this word on their profile to stand out, but if they really loved ninja’s they would know that the ninja code is all about anonymity, becoming a hidden angel of death, a master of sabotage, infiltration and assassination. Invisible. Silent. Covert.

And probably not in your IT department.


These are some of the things that bother me. Agree? Disagree?