Q&A with Cecilia Gorman

Cecilia Gorman is Director of Creative Services for Oakley in Orange County, and Creative Career Management where she runs workshops and career development for junior creatives looking to break into the industry. With so many of our readers graduating and entering the job market, we though we’d ask her a few questions.

Q: What are you looking for in junior creatives?
A: Mostly I look for Individuality, Conceptual intelligence (lack of cliches and sameness), strength of design style (art directors/designers). I want juniors to be different from one another and allow me the variety to choose from. When they blend into one another, it is hard to make a choice.

Q: What is the most common mistake junior talent makes?
A: Not being daring enough to take a risk and stand out. Being cocky or presumptuous.

Q: What do you see when you look at the job market today?
A: I see a lot of opportunities for folks who are willing to try a different job market or a slightly left of center position. If you are seeking a junior job in Los Angeles with no openness for anything different, you are up against thousands of others. But, if you are open to other states, other related jobs you have way more choices.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing junior talent?
A: Competition definitely. Portfolio schools are getting stronger every day, graduating very strong candidates every quarter. That is your competition, so juniors need to keep finessing their portfolios and adding new, strong work even after they are graduated.

Q: What advice would you give someone about to take a first job?
A: Be humble. You are new, you are learning, you are at the bottom rung. If you stay humble and remind yourself you are there to learn as much as you can every day, you will climb those rungs quicker than others.

Follow Cecilia on Twitter here

How I Judge A Book

Jim and I were just at the VCU Brandcenter portfolio review. As usually, there was some very impressive work on display. By my count, I looked at 22 art directors, 22 copywriters, and 10 creative technologists. Some were good. A few were great. All made me feel I’m glad I graduated when I did, because this generation is a lot more competitive than mine was.

Let me explain why.

When I look at a student book, I typically look for two things:

1. Craft. Can the writer write? Is the art director a real art director, or just an ad director who knows Photoshop. Craft shows passion, and it’s easy to see who has it.

2. Thinking. Is the strategy smart? Or self-indulgent?

But now there’s a third thing I look for:

3. Jealousy.

Let me explain.

When I left school, I had double-page magazine spreads spray-mounted to black boards. That was it. And we all got jobs based on how good those spray-mounted ideas were.

But this is the Maker Generation. If you have an idea for an app, a website, a product, some kind of technology, chances are, you can go out and physically make it. Or at least have it made. And I’m pretty jealous of that.

So if you’re putting your book together and you have an idea for an app, don’t just mock up what the program would look like on your iPad, go make it. That’s what a lot of the students at the VCU Brandcenter were doing. And it was pretty inspiring.

Sending Emails to recruiters and CDs

In a recently posted comment, Mankan asked if we would “show a format how a good email to an agency should look like?

There are probably better, more effective examples, but I’ll share mine with you. Below are three emails I sent to a recruiter before being invited for an interview. The names have been changed for privacy.


Hi, Jill.

My friend Bob Frapples tells me AGENCY #1 may be looking for some senior creatives.

I’ve spent most of my career in Chicago, but a couple years ago I transferred to MY CURRENT AGENCY to get some experience on international accounts like CLIENT #1 and CLIENT #2. Well worth it, but I’m looking at returning to the States in 2010.

You can see my work here: LINK TO MY WEB PAGE

I’ve followed AGENCY #1’s work for years. If you think I’d make a good fit, I’d love to talk about the possibilities. Happy to Skype if it’s easier. Please let me know.


Greg Christensen


Hi, Jill.

Just thought I’d reach out and see if you had any feedback on my work.


I didn’t realize Nicky Nickson had returned to AGENCY #1. We worked together in Salt Lake City years ago. I was just an intern, so he might not remember me. But I always liked the energy he brought to the agency. Does he still have a dentist chair in his office?




Hi, Jill.

I just wanted to let you and anyone else viewing my book know that I added a new digital section to my home page:


You can still view the main page here: LINK TO URL MAIN PAGE

I’ve followed the agency’s work over the years, and hearing Bob Frapples tell me how much he enjoys working there, I’m really hopeful you’ll see me as a good fit.



A few things to note:

  1. This wasn’t a complete cold call. A friend of mine at the agency let me know about the opportunity. Never underestimate your network.
  2. I included my URL in every email. Never assume the people you’re talking to know exactly who you are and what work you’ve produced.
  3. If I hadn’t been overseas, I probably would have tried calling as well.

Feel free to post questions and comments. Portfolio school professors, creative directors, and recruiters are also great resources for this question.

What is a Recruiter?

Some agencies have creative recruiters. Some do not. Most of the big ones do. Here are some of the things you need to know about them:

  1. Not all recruiters have a creative background.
  2. Not all recruiters have an impeccable eye for great creative.
  3. Many recruiters do have a creative background and an impeccable eye for great creative.
  4. Almost all recruiters will be the main gatekeeper you must pass in getting an interview at an agency.

Should you send your work to the agency recruiter? Absolutely. Should you rely on the agency’s recruiter to follow up with you? To stay in contact? To call back? To remember your name? Nope. Those are all up to you. Send your pdfs and web links to others in the creative department. Sow as many seeds as you can.

How do you find out if an agency has a recruiter? Call and ask. But don’t stop there. Ask to be transferred to that person. Ask them questions. Their job is to get talent in the door, so they should be happy to talk to you. Build a rapport if you can. It’s not politicking. It’s getting a job.