Thinking outside the balks


If you’re reading this blog post, then you’re probably something like me—that wasn’t meant as an insult—and you’re looking for opportunities to express your true creative self.

Unfortunately, whenever you visit the Want Ads looking for employment, you are met with hundreds of ads all touting their desire for an outside-of-the-box thinker and yet doing so in the most boring way. Talk about making a bad first impression.

So here is my call to all companies: If you want outside-of-the-box thinkers, don’t approach them from inside the box.

Boxes scare creatives because boxes are scary. In hockey, it’s the penalty box. In mythology, it was Pandora’s box—okay, technically jar, but let’s not dwell on semantics. The Boxer rebellion. Boxing Day shopping. Johann Sebastian Box. You get the idea.

To some extent, I blame Human Resource departments, whose job it is to protect the company from legal repercussions rather than actually identify resourceful humans. But senior managers are also to blame, as the majority of them hold their jobs by propping up the walls of their box—often with the corpses of the peons below them.

Several years ago, as Creative Director of a medical advertising agency, I had the opportunity to hire a medical writer.

Now, I am nuts. And the job of medical copywriter in Canada is nuts, because the regulations in Canada are nuts. And working for me is nuts. So when I wanted to hire someone, I needed candidates who were…well…nuts.

Below is an excerpt from the ad I posted on a variety of web-based job sites to get just the right candidate:

We have needs (many of them in fact). But today our biggest need is for a full-time Scientific and Medical Writer to help us create amazingly compelling advertising for our healthcare clients…. 

What type of person are you?

You’ve always been smart—annoyingly so, if we talk to your siblings. You’re just as comfortable talking to a doctor, as you are an artist. You’re always looking for new ways to do things—especially mundane things. You not only dream up big ideas, you can also figure out how to execute them. You are able to convince others to buy into your ideas. You find yesterday’s successes to be today’s challenges. You don’t like taking “no” for an answer. You really want to re-write this ad and send it back to us. And you’ve never met an acronym you didn’t like, including PAAB, RRR, CME, ASC, BID, PM, PI, and ASAP.
Here are some must-haves:
Science degree (BSc. minimum, but dazzle us if you don’t)
Ability to distill clinical data into amazing copy (other distillation expertise will be considered)
Knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry (aside from your medicine cabinet)
A sense of humour in stressful situations.
Nice-to-haves: Did we mention the sense of humour?

Think your skills meet our needs? Then startle us with your creativity. Forward your resume (boring), 3 writing samples (better), and anything else we may find entertaining (don’t worry, we’re easily entertained) to:

I got some amazingly milquetoast applicants, but I also got some incredibly creative applicants and eventually hired an amazingly brilliant writer—who may be reading this and the Canadian market is too small not to constantly ass-kiss.

Like attracts like. So if it looks like you wrote your job ad with a pencil shoved firmly up your backside, you’re not likely to attract the kinds of candidates who think outside of the box. They’re more likely to be outside of your league.

You need to show that creative thinking already flourishes within your company because damned few creatives are willing to be the first and possibly only person who thinks creatively. Without the right amount and type of bullshit, we wither and die in such environments.

Spare the box, hire the creative genius.


PS The job boards to which I posted included:


(Image is property of Robert Mann Packaging and is used her without permission.)