Recruiting Thoughts from Industry Leaders

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Rich Silverstein of Goodby Silverstein & Partners and R/GA head Robert Greenberg weigh in on what matters - in people and portfolios. For the full interviews, click on The Ad School Review in the Creativity Magazine section of adcritic.com

What's your take on the talent coming out of advertising and design schools today?

Silverstein: I see them as the same kind of students. Probably they get more sophisticated, with technology like PhotoShop, the ads look more finished because our world is that way. You could probably realize your ideas better now than in years past. But kids who came out of art school 10, 20 years ago are the same as the kids that come out today.

Do you hire according to discipline?

Silverstein: We do go for discipline. We will hire an online designer, and we will hire an art director. Sometimes the art director goes and does some online, sometimes the online art director becomes an ad in advertising, but it doesn't don't start that way.

Greenberg:Although we hire according to discipline, we look for talented people who are creative, collaborative and conceptual.

Here is an example of what I mean. Recently I presented to 500 design students from England. They all looked like they could have lived in New York. But there was an interesting difference; they were all trained according to the old style, using the English apprenticeship model, with very little access to technology. A clear benefit of this process is that they were taught to think. Sometimes technology overpowers ideas and people tend to think less. We look for people who think more, because they can learn the tools at R/GA.

What makes a portfolio stand out? Where do the best portfolios come from?

Greenberg: What are really needed are better programs within the schools to teach students about the importance of portfolios and how to present their work. Over the years, I have seen sloppy ones and really great examples. But if a portfolio is poorly designed, we won't hire the person period.

Silverstein: It's timeless. A good idea, well executed. That's never changed, it will never change. That's what we do. And, I guess because technology can realize ideas so well, you probably judge the book harsher than you would have done in the past. Because technology is capable of reproducing anything these days, there's no excuse for a book that's designed badly or looks ugly. There are too many ways to make it look good, so you better make it look good.

What are your turnoffs?

Silverstein: Arrogance, self-importance. People who think they know everything. When you tell them you don't like something in their book, how they handle it. If they push back too much, it's kind of like, so that's what it's going to be like when they present work to me when they're working here. You interview them as if they're already working here. Do I want to hear ideas from this person? Not that people can't have strong points of view-I want that-but there's just the way people might interpret a critique. If I realize it's going to be a struggle, then I think, You know what, I don't want to deal with this.

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