Sticking to the Brief! Is it really that hard?


BY Sam Davies


23 April 2016

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Let me keep this brief.

I have been noticing a really disturbing trend lately.

Working in Client Services we are very used to sticking to a project outline. Our job is to decipher a set of requirements and then formulate a plan of attack to ensure those requirements are met (and hopefully exceeded). We will go way over and above at the early stages of a proposal to ensure the potential client knows that we are 100% committed to their cause and the best in the business.

There was a long thread on a facebook group a few weeks ago regarding this subject. Freelancers had been accused of not putting their best feet forward when potential employers had posted in the group. The argument was that they should be doing everything in their power to impress the job poster. A lot of the response was that, you never know if the job is ‘real’ or ‘quality’ so why waste the time…

Why waste the time?

I must admit that baffles me. It is a strange attitude and one that I just do not understand. This is a dog eat dog world and any chance of a feed you need to be the first to the bowl and the hungriest, to get a chance. I can understand if you are booked for the next six months and it is work you don’t need… Then don’t reply! But a comment back saying “Yep call me”, is not going to wow a potential employer. As service providers, every single tiny interaction with a potential employer is counting towards your overall picture. Why NOT waste the time!

For this exact reason, whenever we post a Job ad we always add in a few hooks which help us to determine if:

  • The candidate actually read (and comprehended) the Job Ad
  • They give a damn enough to go slightly out of their way

So a few weeks back we posted an ad for a position and asked that:

  • You MUST have a cover letter
  • You must demonstrate to us why you’re are better than the next candidate
  • You must present and explain the piece of work that you are most proud of.

The Job ad was posted on LinkedIn, Facebook, Seek and a variety of other mediums. Out of 20+ responses, only two covered all three points. This demonstrated to me the following:

  • People do not care enough about the job to bother reading the brief properly
  • People are too lazy to follow the brief
  • People do not know how to read a brief

There may be other factors but at the end of the day those 20 odd resumes got thrown in the bin. I didn’t even bother reading them… I would hate to become one of those old fogies complaining about the younger generations faults, so I won’t put the blame there. However, there appears to be a trend in a large percentage of young creative professionals, to think things will just be handed to them. A sense of entitlement.

Even outside of the professional services sector, adhering to a brief is a mandatory skill in almost any job. It is the core of most of our work. I am looking for team members who would tackle the most mundane job with a creative flair and exuberance. A cleaner who folds the toilet paper and cleans the hard to reach grime under the corner of the benchtop is going to stay in business for a long time.

So what is the deal? I am really interested to start a conversation around this point, as I feel it is a  worthy of discussion. From a business perspective, I hope that our competitors are resting on their laurels and not going the extra mile. You can be damn sure we will be, and we will only be hiring staff who understand the value in doing so!

Let us know your thoughts over on our Facebook page

Like what you see?
Subscribe now to receive regular updates


Sam Davies

Sam has been running a Digital Agency in some form or another for almost a decade. He loves the internet and the positive changes it has brought to the world but still loves time away from the glowing cubes. Surf, Fish, Drink, Cook, Laugh….Drink! You can follow him on Instagram @samdaviesdn and on Snapchat @digitalnoir