Before I begin my usual foray into things I don't fully understand, I'd suggest you read this post by Anthony Goh, aka Dead Insect.
Bloody brilliant, eh?
Well, I was particularly drawn to it, because (as you'll have read), Anthony is in a similar boat to me - he's doing a spot of freelancing at the moment. Albeit projects requiring more experience. And I share his frustration at certain agencies' recruitment processes.
While I like to freelance (it's great fun, and you get to work when you want, which is handy), a greater part of me wants to go back on board as a full timer and learn, and be part of a great team to boot.
Where this falls down is the convoluted recruitment processes that some agencies employ - personally, I've had the most success through going straight to the source, in the most part, and just having a coffee and a chat with people I admire, and would like to work for/with. The idea of a HR 'gatekeeper' is another of those reasons why I'm proud to help contribute to Ad Grads.
Bluntly, I'm terrified that the weapons advertising (and indeed, the wider communication field) has, that of variety and a good working experience, have been eroded over the past twenty years.
No, the marketplace isn't the picture Sam Delaney paints in Get Smashed. 80's decadence has long since passed. But the ability to have fun, to mix with a diverse range of people, and get paid to be involved in something which has the potential to be as much of a pursuit as a job at times is one which the ad industry needs to cling on to.
And, let's be honest, parts of the industry are shooting themselves in the foot.
I'll give you an example of how it should go. I email someone, either off a blog or through working out their email address. We meet for coffee. There is/isn't a vacancy, and the conversation either continues in a non-work capacity (they become my friend or somesuch) or it takes on a more work related spin, and I get freelance/a job.
Now, flip that. I set up a meeting with someone through someone else. I get briefed on what they want, the meeting goes well (let's assume). I get told good things...then nothing. Nada. Zipski. I can't do much, because I didn't initiate the meeting. Finally, I get a call from someone in HR, telling me I wasn't a 'cultural fit' or somesuch (the ultimate, ultimate cop out answer).
I'm deeply concerned that the obstinancy many agencies adopt will kill the next generation of potential ad men. God knows that I've heard and spoken to enough senior agency people that lament how recruitment was put on the back burner in the mid/late 90s, and now, they're suffering for it.
But things like Ad Grads, Ant's post, the Rise of the Ronin, and some of my own recent experiences seem to paint a better picture for the future; that agencies realise they have to wise up if they are going to nuture and cultivate the best talent.
Indeed, the best HR people/Global Talent Managers are fantastic; they keep you informed about what's happening, and will go out of their way to make sure you are the right fit. It's the phone calls from someone I've never spoken to and general hands off approach that makes me cross.
And God knows, bonuses in the City are large enough to dissuade a lot of the best at the moment, so now, more than ever, agencies have got to fight tooth and claw to get the cream.