A friend of mine who works for a great agency sent me this picture. It's how they sort the minibooks they receive.
If you click to enlarge, you'll notice the three categories from right to left are COPYWRITERS, ART DIRECTORS, and THINK OF CAREER CHANGE. Granted, that's pretty harsh. But as my friend pointed out, "I couldn't believe how many of them were bad!"
So how do you avoid falling into that third box? Here's my advice:
Don't even worry about it. Chances are, your book is already better than 100% of them. What you need to be concerned with is being better than all the other books in the COPYWRITER and ART DIRECTOR slots. If this agency's hiring at all, it's probably for one team. Maybe two. That's still a lot of books being sent home.
There's a fourth box this picture doesn't show. The fourth box is your book sitting on the hiring creative director's desk and being shown around the agency.
What are you doing to make sure your book is in the Fourth Box?