How I Hire For A Creative Role – Adrian Whatman of RAPP Tells All

How I Hire For A Creative Role – Adrian Whatman of RAPP tells all

Adapt to survive

In an industry that’s constantly changing, it’s important that you adapt to modern culture. Gone are the days of the printed CV, and your work being presented in a black A2 portfolio. Today we’re all social and online, so whether you’re a new kid on the block, or have been around for some time, it’s important you are connected, and communicate in the right way. In this blog I’m going to give you insider knowledge on getting that elusive first job, or help you take the next step in your career.

There are two types of people I come across regularly when I’m looking to hire. Those who are up for it, have the drive I have, and are willing to do anything to succeed. And then the ones who think the world owes them a living, and just expect a job. If you’re the latter then you won’t get very far, if you’re the former, let’s crack on.

Get connected

First up we need to get you online and connected, so if you’ve got your CV on a word doc, now’s the time to throw it in the bin. LinkedIn is your CV, so no matter what position you are currently in, you should have a LinkedIn account. When I’m looking to hire this is always my first port of call to gain some quick background and knowledge on you, so it’s important that this is up to date, because here’s where you sell yourself.

Secondly I want to see your work, so you need to get it online. You can either build your own site, and with today’s online tools like WordPress these are easier than ever to create, or you can simply put all your work on Remember one thing, it’s all about the work. I see so many online portfolios with complex navigation that distracts from the work. Keep it simple and easy to use.

Now you’re up and running, and ready to connect. The creative industry is vast and there are many different sectors, so you need to decide what sector you want to work in, and focus on that.

Which company do you want to work for?

Once you have decided what sector of the Creative industry you want to work in, decide what kind of company you want to work for, get the name and email of the Design/Creative Directors, and contact them. If they’re too busy, ask if it’s possible to see one of their deputies. One little tip, don’t go with the ‘do you have any jobs?’angle, ask ‘can I get your advice?’. It’s just 10 minutes of their time over a coffee for a short book crit (oh, and make sure you buy the coffee!).

A book crit is pretty much an interview, so be prepared. Make sure you bring your own iPad or laptop and run your presentation locally from your machine, as you can’t guarantee Wi-Fi where you’re meeting. The amount of people I’ve seen who turn up without the right equipment is shocking, and really puts potential employers off as they have to find a computer for you to use. Most book crits will happen in a meeting room or in the agency’s reception, so if you don’t bring your own kit you might as well not bother. When you’re kit’s sorted, get some background on the person you’re meeting, the work that the agency do, and any recent industry news about them. I like people who have done their research on my work and the agency’s, because it shows they’re serious about the job.

Get feedback on your work

Treat the book crit as a discussion about your current work, so get honest feedback on your work, and how you could make it better. During the meeting make sure you ask questions about them, their career, their agency, and of course ask about work placements. In today’s market you may have to work unpaid or take minimum wage for a bit, but this is the best way to get your foot in the door. If you are fortunate enough to get a placement, it’s show time. The ball’s now in your court, and it’s up to you to deliver. 80% of the people I have brought in on a placement I have hired, because they’ve proven they can do the job.

Yes, design directors like me are always busy, but we will find time to see the next generation of talent, so be enthusiastic, and don’t take no for an answer. In today’s times of austerity it’s more important than ever that you are proactive, and make things happen for yourself. You really only get one shot to impress someone, so make it count.

Good luck, and go get ‘em.


Adrian Whatman / Design Director / RAPP London

About me:

Hiding behind over 30 international awards, setting up two agencies and working for some of the worlds biggest networks, Adrian Whatman loves nothing more than sitting in his Kent garden with a cool beer relaxing with his wife, 3 children and Henry the dog.