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Making creative choices at the start of your career

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Reflecting on some mentoring I've done in the past with digital, creative and marketing people at the start of their careers (as part of the Direct Marketing Association's mentoring scheme) and it is very clear to see that many feel overwhelmed by the number of job options open to them in the current climate. There seems to be a genuine confusion around what the right career path is for them to choose within the ever expanding world of the Creative Industries and the types of businesses that now fall under that heading.  Did you know that 1 in 11 jobs in the UK now sits in this space? Overwhelming indeed! 

Thirteen years ago when I started recruiting in this sector, it was quite simple - a candidate would start off life as a 'junior' in a creative agency and work their way up the ladder, step by step.  If a candidate wanted to go down the in-house marketing route, that was also an option, but agency and 'client side' rarely crossed paths and once they had set off in one direction that tended to be their path cemented, and it was very difficult to move from one side to the other!

Agencies used to be the path that any creative talent worth their salt would want to go down - It used to be all about the Hipster offbeat locations, a swanky bar in the basement, the benefit of an incredible client list as long as your arm, or the fact that the last Christmas party was in outer space. 

There is no doubting that times have changed with the evolution of creative and digital which now presents the talent out there with many options for employment.  These now tend to fall into four main categories with interchangeable skills now being recognised rather than ignored as they used to be! 

- Agencies

- Client Side 

- Consultancies 

- Technology

There really has been a shift in the stigma attached to the term ‘client-side’ over recent years. Previously referred to by many as the 'dark side' and the path to take in the twilight of your career when you’ve got the t-shirt, and the house in the country because now you need a 'grown up' marketing environment.  

Brands have shaken up their marketing, digital, PR and advertising strategies and internal marketing teams and set their sights on wooing the talent to help bring their visions to life. The brands also want to credibly get more involved in the output at grass-roots level and retain more responsibility over the marketing that represent them.  

Better salaries, edgier offices, creative and informal environments and innovation rooms and floors are now being offered, not only by the little tech start-ups but by the bigger, corporate brands too. 

And now the Management Consultancy giants such as Accenture and Deloitte are also dialling up their business strategies to target this creative talent. They're even now buying creative agencies in order to get a competitive advantage in this space.  Seeing recent acquisitions such as Accenture buying Karmarama and Cognizant acquiring Zone has taken this to the next level too.  

"As consulting firms try to win more work with the digital marketing side of the business, they are sharpening and building out their creative credentials, long the territory of traditional advertising firms." 

Which is why candidates are rightly exploring all of the options.  The ceiling has now lifted on a previously niche market, and gone are the days where the Top 10 Agency list provided the answer for their next killer move.

Accenture Interactive announced today that they have hit 25,000 staff globally. Brian Whipple, the global lead for Accenture Interactive is proud of the talent they have:

"We focus on creative and have some of the best creative minds in the world, but we’re also a very strong business consultancy and also a technology powerhouse,"

Interestingly, Accenture Interactive's 25,000-strong team makes it larger than Havas (the world's sixth biggest advertising agency network) which has 19,000 staff.

It should be viewed as a positive rather than a headache that there are opportunities aplenty out there.  Ultimately the best talent will base their decisions on the type of work on projects that they are going to be getting involved with - and that should take precedent really.  The work is what will define people's careers in this space now rather than necessarily where they have worked or the type of organisation they have worked for. In a world where finding the great talent is tough enough, it does now mean that the retention of good talent for these organisations is now just as key.  

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