The graduate market today
The current state of the creative market has meant that every agency is approaching their recruitment in a slightly different way. The established independent agencies are doing different things to the network agencies, and the ATL agencies doing digital are working differently to some of the pure play digital agencies out there.
Some agencies are getting rid of all freelancers and hiring permanent people. Other agencies are making permanent staff redundant and relieving that pressure with freelancers, and other agencies still are not replacing permanent people that are leaving and instead stretching existing staff in place.
One thing is for sure; due to a low level of confidence within the creative industry, agencies are looking to only hire people that can hit the ground running and don’t have much time to invest and train juniors or less experienced people.
After the dot.com crash back in 2001, everyone involved saw a new divide in experience. Not many agencies were investing in juniors which meant that in 2004-2006 when digital really picked up there was a glut of mid-weights. The few existing mid-weight designers and action scripters could ask for as much money as they wanted and were often leaving their positions for up to £10k more.
Unfortunately, as much as people like to think the digital market has matured and learnt lessons, I don’t think it has. I have worked on maybe two jobs for juniors in the last six months and watched many graduates and juniors exit the industry in search for a job which doesn’t utilise their degrees or skills but gives them a chance of having a better income.
Advice for all grads and juniors
My advice for all grads and juniors is to keep knocking on every door available and go above and beyond what people are expecting to prove that you can pick things up quickly and hold your own against others at your level. Teach yourself new skills and constantly update your portfolio with either private projects or work you did for a D+AD or NABS brief at university.
If you do search for around 6-12 months and decide to give up altogether, please keep one eye on the job boards and industry news for that opportunity that just might be right for you. I am expecting agencies to jump on the junior bandwagon again around July 2011 when things calm down and they realise that most of their teams are top heavy.