Brenna Ferguson, Senior Global Creative Recruiter at Sasha The Mensch

Argentina-based recruiter, Brenna Ferguson, shares her insights on what talent and employers can do to level up their search.

What would you say to companies who are looking for fresh perspective and new talent right now as many industries are facing the war for talent?

Diversity is an ever present topic for companies right now. It’s been proven that teams of people with more diverse backgrounds get better creative results. Yet many agencies still stick to what they know because of tight timelines, budgets, or frankly because of who you know. Advertising agencies notoriously hire within their “agency experience” world. Yet there are so many other backgrounds that offer unique experiences within the Tech, Startup, or Client Side world. One thing we do exceptionally well at Sasha the Mensch is we look at an array of talent from all over the globe. We recognize there can be certain logistical issues with visas and whatnot but many agencies don’t even contemplate the possible outcomes. And now with people continuing to work remote a huge talent pool has opened up for those willing to tap into it.

What advice would you give to those compiling their portfolios in order to stand out for future employers?

For creatives, portfolios are critical for employers to understand your skills as an artist. Agencies want to see your best work along with a variety that demonstrates a range of capabilities. It’s true what they say about first impressions, so put your most-awarded, most creative, premier work at the top and make it obvious. If your work has been recognized at industry shows, be sure to detail what awards you’ve won and on which projects. Also this may sound silly, but be sure to include your email address and a link to your LinkedIn on your site. You want a new role that pays you more money, gives you more creative freedom and fulfills all your hopes and dreams. Recruiters want to see you succeed, so do your best to streamline the details.

What preparations should candidates consider prior to starting their job search, so that they can have the most effective outcome?

I always encourage people to ruminate on what they want long term. That can of course be broken up into something more manageable. A useful framework is to think of your career in the next five years. Don’t get caught up on the role right in front of you, think about the next two steps and a five year plan overall. Many of us become fixated on finding the “perfect” role, when in reality, there are very few that one would consider “perfect.” How many times in your career has it happened where you have a list of ten criteria and the agency can only meet seven or eight of them? Think about which things you don’t mind sacrificing short term for a better outcome long term. If the role doesn’t align with all of your values, that’s ok, it doesn’t have to be forever. Think about how you can use the next two years as an investment in your career to achieve what you want down the line. We want to start to identify with our long term selves. Also, sometimes those jobs end up being the most inspiring because they propel you into your dream job – or, they can be important teachers in showing you what you ultimately don’t want. With every step you can hone in on what it will take for better results and overall happiness.

As a creative your portfolio is your most valuable asset. What you’re able to produce translates directly to the value your portfolio will have in future endeavors. When considering an opportunity the first question should be what has the agency produced in the last five years? What will you be able to contribute to your portfolio? Client side opportunities now offer equity as a tool to incentivize but when you break it down it’s essentially golden handcuffs. If equity fully vests in three years, you could be a year in, unfulfilled creatively, yet you feel obligated to stick around for the eventual equity. That design can ultimately have consequences for your portfolio.

For talent considering moving to the U.S. advertising market, what tips or suggestions do you have for them starting work?

Transitioning to a new country, new job, and new language is truly an art form. There are so many cultural nuances that cannot be anticipated until you are there on the ground. There is no amount of planning that will prepare you for the culture shock that comes with moving to a new place. I often encourage anyone who may be contemplating taking a job in a foreign country to consider moving laterally title-wise. It’s a way to ensure that the transition will be less overwhelming and will help set you up for success. I frequently work with art and copy teams looking to move abroad and take that next step in their career. This is especially common for those looking to move to the US or the UK. The two biggest factors in determining the likelihood that you’ll find an agency willing to sponsor your visa are: awards won and ability to write and work in English. Double check your writing in your portfolio, share it with friends, ask for a second opinion. Make sure your campaigns are subtitled in English as well.

By Sasha The Mensch