Dear Women of Been There:
I thought I did everything right. I've worked smart and hard, and proved I have something innovative to give. Now I'm 28 years old, been graduated for a year and half, and my husband / business partner has decided to return to an in-house job, despite our notable success.
I'm not so young and inexperienced in the industry to be "fresh", but I'm not creative director level, either. My portfolio doesn't conform to any one specific area, and it shows concepts and design in various consumer touchpoints. I've worked on brand strategy, which I've recently come to understand creatives don't normally do.
I think I fit somewhere between brand planning and creative, but have been continually told by head hunters that I'm "very talented, but don't fit the mold." I thought the idea was to be innovative, and to be 'out of the box.' The conformism is killing me.
Are ad agencies really branching out beyond the typical ad? Do I have need to make more ads (just for ad's sake) to be recognized by the industry? Which portfolio would an agency be more interested in and why: one for an account planner position or junior art director position?
An intelligent, creative woman simply lost.
Ad agencies are indeed branching out beyond the typical ad form, as seen in any award show. However, agencies still tend to use traditional staffing structures to deliver the varied product. A solid base of ads in your portfolio is still a key underpinning if you wish to be an art director in an agency. As far as planning portfolios go, the best account planners are creative. And it's a great attribute to underscore. Just don't muddy the waters by implying that you want to be an art director at the same time.
What may be preventing you from finding a position is the need to brand yourself more clearly. I think you need to apply the same strategic discipline that you would to solving a client's issue to your own issue. It seems that interviewers aren't sure what role you are seeking. You seem to be searching for a hybrid role that doesn't exist, therefore you need to clearly stake your ground. Decide whether you want to be a planner or a designer or an art director and focus your efforts (resumé and/or portfolio) to that end. You need to painfully honest with yourself, in deciding which role is best suited to your talents. If you are unsure and think it would be helpful, have someone who's opinion you deeply respect, offer a candid and objective opinion to help guide your way.
Having said all the above, if you still long to wear many hats, maybe doing your own thing is the most attractive answer for you career-wise.
Best of luck,