Hi all,

This is a tough question but one that many of us need an answer to, as I’ve seen a number of posts about the subject... Given all of the client budget cuts and (continued...)

likesmart
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At your level, no. They should be seeing great produced work Our job isn’t just to come up with great ideas. It’s also, in part, to find a way to sell those ideas. Yes, the selling is a group effort involving creative and strat and accounts, but once you have the words Creative and Director in your title it starts to become on you to SELL as well as create great ideas.

Also, come up with more ideas then. Of the one you like turns to shit, you should have 1 or 2 or 3 more in progress that could also be great

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Obviously candidates must demonstrate the ability to create, sell, and produce great work but It’s hypocritical for agencies to discriminate against spec ideas in someone’s book when agencies themselves engage in the same practice, for the same reasons... see “agency initiated” pro bono, social good, scam advertising etc.

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Continued... ...lack of work being produced, are we really expected to have actual produced campaigns with multiple touch points in our portfolios?

By the time all the client cooks are done, 90% of the work that most of us have produced is garbage and we would never want it in our portfolios. That is, if they even produce anything in the first place. Yet so many agencies and GCDs want to see produced work rather than spec. Shouldn’t those hiring want to see what a candidate is really capable of, rather than what gets produced? Especially since producing celebrated work requires the stars to align — an agency competent enough to sell it, and a client wise enough to want it?

I ask this not only because clients aren’t greenlighting like they used to, but also, now that freelance is the only game in town, agencies don’t keep us around to produce anymore, but rather, hand our work off to an internal team. That’s why so many creatives I know have mostly spec work in their books now...

So should creatives feature the work that proves they’re good, or the produced work that proves it got made?

I know it’s a tough question so, thank you in advance for your insight

likesmarthelpful

Both. As long as you explain it accordingly why not

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Great question. About 75% of my site is spec, for the reasons you explained.

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@CD — lol — there is no staff anymore unless you’re a junior. Agencies don’t want to pay anymore. That’s why CDs are fighting for senior level freelance jobs. Im honestly not trying to be rude. I’m glad you weighed in on this post and grateful for your insights But are you not aware of what’s going on in the industry outside of your agency?

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@CD1 — while I can appreciate your belief, which is obviously based on your experience , I can assure you that there are is a very large contingent of those at my level and even CDs who’ve worked at some of the top agencies in the country, yet are in my exact same situation because of the reasons I described — working at a global agency network with supervisors who’ve held a close-hold on what gets pitched and sold. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be successful at the helm

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Thanks @CPO unfortunately I don’t know of any CDs or higher who have the time or patience to spend more than 5 minutes looking at a portfolio

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Agree with ACD1. You shouldn’t have spec work in your portfolio at your level. Sure, so many factors go into getting great work produced, but our job is to make great work. It doesn’t always happen, but we want people on our teams who can make great work, not just come up with great ideas that never get made.

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I’m just speaking from my experience. I know that if I were reviewing a candidate’s portfolio at an ACD level and they had spec work, I’d pass. You gotta make shit you’re proud of. This business isn’t easy. Anyone can have ideas. Making them is another story. And it’s on your CDs to help you, not keep it to themselves.

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@CD1 — unfortunately this is what has happened. Also, now that a majority of us are forced freelancers, agencies don’t keep contractors around to produce anything anymore. So all there is, is spec. My second point is a reality for many CDs nowadays too

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@CD1 — I have but by the time it’s produced it’s been so watered down w/o anyone to defend it that you wouldn’t want it in your book

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@ACD OP - seems like you just wanted to hear that it’s ok to put spec work in your book. Maybe someone else will say that. My opinion is that at your level, doing so doesn’t make you an enticing candidate.

likesmart

@AD1 Recruiters don’t and shouldn’t be making the final call based on the portfolios... but what we do do (hahaha doo doo) is curate a list of top portfolio picks of who we believe our hiring managers/ECDs/CDs will want to meet based on the work. If they’re not feeling anyone in the list we go back for more.. we listen to feedback to find people who fit the recruiting brief. At least hats how it works at my agency. And regarding spec work or rather.. side projects and personal work that shows your true creative brain: Make it great and please please include it. We value it a ton.

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@ACD1 + CD1

Agreed but as ACDs at the worldwide agencies some of us have worked are forced to only present what our CDs tell us to. That’s when of course, we’re allowed to pitch. Often the CDs keep a tight hold on the client and demand that they are the ones to pitch the work. Because they feel that the only security there is in this business, is having a strong relationship with the client. That’s why they often demand to pitch themselves

likehelpful

@ACD OP - if you were a part of the conceptual phase and wrote a script that was produced by the agency team or had the idea for an activation that was executed by the agency team, etc, then you should get that work and have it in your portfolio. I would hope most CDs and GCDs would be ok with that. But only if you truly can claim it as yours.

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It’d be great if a talent/ recruiter could weigh in as well...

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OP I think you’ll find a mixed bag. Those who feel as CD1 does, and I totally understand that frame of mind, they tend to be more vocal about that perspective than the other side that is more flexible with it. For me, it all depends. I think people look at books and get what they get from them off the bat. So put in what you are proud of. I’m gonna ultimately ask questions about polish and limitations and all that if I’m interested past the first look. So have your answers ready accordingly. But put work in your book that represents you and that you are proud of. Again, it really will all depend on the person viewing the work. Just like the work itself is subject to so many factors. Ultimately your goal is all produced work that you’re beaming about. But that takes a long time and finding the right environments for you to have the stars align a bit better than average. Do what you think is right for your book but know that the opinions can fall on either side and that it could cost you an opportunity or two if there’s spec. There’s also the flip side that you may not get your foot in the door to an opportunity without those pieces that show how you think.

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Thank you @CD2

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CD1 I'm not disputing your points, I'm just clarifying to OP that what I'm saying is that recruiters have less of a sway upfront on the area OP is asking about - and so instead, OP should be asking their question of CDs such as you and CD2. I'm curious what response this topic would generate on the main feed. I recruit and I hire, and I've also mentored creative folks on job hunting as creatives struggle navigating the process and politics of interviewing and comunicating with recruiters or negotiating salaries, etc. But I can also confirm my ex with 17 lions got recruited by Droga, didn't produce anything after 2 years of a shit show account and was pulling hair out, so left and only got a job because old boss from 2 shops ago is an internationally renowned ECD now. So getting stuff produced is complicated and threatens careers even of top talent from top shops

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