Ask Esther // 41


Hi Esther,
I have been an unemployed creative now since I graduated 2 years ago in Ireland which is going through a pretty serious recession. So I have come to Sydney and all I want to do is work in advertising and be creative. This is going to sound so insanely stupid but I haven’t even applied for any jobs. Every time I start getting my book together I start thinking its rubbish even though I always had extremely positive feedback from lecturers, one of whom has won many awards internationally. He even told me not to bother doing a master’s degree because I would easily get a job in a top agency. No one has ever said anything negative about my work but I just think it could always be better and there are so many other more talented, confident people than me out there. I know my ideas are good but I feel when I execute them they never look how I want them no matter how hard I try. Now every job listing I see you need digital experience and I have zero.

I think I’m just too embarrassed to fail, yet I am failing by not trying. Its been 2 years now and I’m 27 years old, I mean is there any point now in trying to get a job in advertising, how can anyone take me seriously when I tell them all I’ve done for 2 years is work in a bar? I would happily work 3 days for free, sunrise to midnight, at a good agency but could not commit to more as I have student loans and rent to pay, again how could they take me seriously when I can’t even make a proper commitment.

Should I just give up on the idea of ever making it now or go back to college and do a masters?


Dear Drowning,

Those people you think are more confident or talented than you are mostly just better at hiding their fear. Or more determined to push past it.

You won’t regret giving it a go, but you may well regret if you don’t. You obviously can write; you just need to knuckle down and work out a plan of attack, and 27 is a great age to get started as a creative.

Only go back to Uni if you want to. You’ve already earned a Masters in dealing with people.

But that’s not your real issue.

You need to address your handling of criticism. That takes practise. It’s like public speaking. Few are born to it, most people are shit-scared at first and simply get better through practise.

If the ideas in your book are over two years old, you need to ditch them and start over. Very few (if any) will have stood the test of time. It’s unlikely that you would approach any brief the same way you did a few years ago. The work needs to be fresh and as confident as you can make it.

You can visit the supermarket and select a few products whose names are familiar but that have no recent or familiar ad campaigns. Write a strategy for each one and then start tackling the creative. (This is detailed in an early Ask Esther answer). Incorporate digital and/or integrated thinking into your solutions.

Writers write. Begin with a bio about your background. It needs to be upbeat and have a clear voice. Start a blog about the adventures in the bar. The experience of dealing with recalcitrant customers will be a very practical asset when it comes to dealing with some suits :).

You need a book (online of course), and you need to start getting out there and talking to people. The work is first and foremost. Prepare enough to start showing it to people. It’s not easy getting meetings, let alone getting useful criticism or advice. But you have to start.

You need to be willing to sell yourself and accept criticism of your work.

Get started and come back with your portfolio.

Good luck.

You can ask Esther Clerehan anything about putting your book together, getting a job, what salary to ask for or what to do when someone steals your ideas. Go on, Ask Esther. There is no other creative recruiter with more experience to educate us on the art of the job hunt. You can email her here at junior at (wtf null@null lifeatthebottom

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 25/04/2013
Category: Ask Esther
Tagged: .