Creative Recruitment for Dummies

October 11, 2015

We’ve all been there at some point in our careers, so we all know, job hunting is hard work. Sympathies will naturally go to the many talented creative job seekers out there looking for their first big agency break after graduating or a leg up to the next rung on the career ladder. But please, for a moment, let’s spare a brief thought for the recruiter. The guy or gal on the other side of the interview desk swamped in a sea of dodgy ‘word.doc CV’s’ and ‘no show’ interview appointments.

So, in an effort to help creative interviewees and interviewers alike, here’s my ‘creative recruitment for dummies’. A simple guide, that does not guarantee any success but does reduce the likelihood of failure – for sure.

1. Making contact


  • Do make sure your portfolio PDF or website link demonstrates the very best of your creative abilities. Weed out the weak work
  • Do write a short personalised cover letter explaining why you want to join the agency you are reaching out you
  • Do make sure your contact details are easy to find


  • Don’t create your CV in Microsoft Word
  • Don’t have a CV/portfolio riddled with sloppy typos, poor grammar and shoddy typography
  • Don’t feature a grim looking passport style mug shot*
  • Don’t email with a lazy ‘cut and paste’ cover message or no cover message at all

*(It’s OK to show a picture of yourself but make it a good one! Try friendly and confident looking).

2. Research the job

At the very least, visit the agency website and memorize some case studies that have impressed you.

Read the industry press and tap into your network to get quality information. Once you have been offered an interview, make sure you know the exact location of the office where the interview is being held. If the location is unfamiliar, do a recce the day before.

3. The big day

Turn up on time. Not early. Not late. Just on time.

Do not phone the interviewer asking for directions to the office while apologising for being late.

Your CV will, most likely, be in the trash before you arrive.

Bring your portfolio. 

No portfolio. No Job.

Portfolio do’s

  • Do only feature work you are proud of
  • Do make sure your work reflects the type of work the agency you are hoping to join produces
  • Do think, before hand, about what you are going to say
  • Do bring print samples if you have them and it’s relevant

Portfolio don’ts

  • Don’t continually blame unsatisfactory results on your current employer
  • Don’t present work you had nothing to do with. Team projects are OK – but be honest about your contribution
  • Don’t allow typos to ruin your presentation
  • Don’t assume you’ll have access to the Internet. Bring your own device/portfolio to the interview

Look the part.

If you are a Creative that means casual dress but make sure you look like you’ve made an effort. So smart casual. If you are still unsure what to wear, recce the company you are hoping to join and echo the dress style of the current staff.

Do not over-accessorise. Wearing designer watches, handbags and jewellery worth more than most people’s monthly salary may backfire on you. So keep it about you and your work and leave the fancy luxury accessories at home.

4. The feedback

Well congratulations if you got the job! But maybe you did all of the above ‘do’s’ and none of the ‘don’ts and it still didn’t work out! The rejection will hurt of course but keep your chin up and keep on good terms with your potential employers. Agencies do revisit applications and pass on CVs. Learn from the experience and your time will come.

James Wood, Creative Director