Some advice for the kids
June 18, 2012 at 9:40am by Guest Author
Each year I return to Sheridan College where I completed a 1 year post-graduate certificate in Marketing Management to speak to the advertising class in what was my former program. And each year, the students invariably perk up during the portion of my talk where I focus on job hunting. With another job season over, and having met with several eager job hunters making several of the mistakes I ask the students to watch out for, I thought I would share this portion of my presentation as a blog post.
But before we continue, a disclaimer: this advice is not gospel. It is my opinion alone, and describes what I look for when hiring someone. I know I’m not alone in these beliefs, but I’m sure they aren’t universal. In fact, if you disagree or have questions, please join the discussion in the comments section below.
Oh, and if you’re a creative, stop reading now and get to work on your portfolio. Have a portfolio and didn’t get a job/internship? Work harder on your portfolio; ask some people in advertising to rip it apart, and then get back to work. Repeat this process until your portfolio looks nothing like it did the first time you were proud to show it. For the rest of you…
This should go without saying, but having a grammatical or spelling error on your résumé or cover letter is simply inexcusable. If I find an error, your résumé goes in the garbage. If I find an error AND you’ve listed “attention to detail” as one of your skills, I will make fun of you to my colleagues and then throw it in the garbage. Sure, not everyone cares, but it is definitely not worth the risk.
When writing your résumé, be thorough but more importantly be concise! When your audience is someone scanning hundreds of them, less is definitely more.
Don’t include any more than 3 jobs unless they are all extremely relevant. All you’re doing by including your summer stint at Dairy Queen in 2009 is adding unnecessary length.
Résumés are all typically very similar; they all sound and look the same, especially at the entry level. So stand out by telling us about yourself. What are you in to? How do you spend your free time? Don’t be too conservative, maybe even take a risk or two, you never know what’s going to pique the interest of the person on the other end.
Take it easy on the hyperbole. Listen, I get it, you’re well educated. You’re a smart person. You’ve been kicking ass for years. But you are still an inexperienced advertising wannabe in my eyes and no amount of self-congratulatory language is going to change that. Unless of course you really and truly are an exceptional public speaker, with exemplary organizational skills and an outstanding aptitude for team leadership, then by all means say so.
Email (aka the new cover letter)
People often forget that unless you know someone personally, your first contact with an agency is going to be your introductory email. So when you’re writing it, remember that THIS is your first impression. Not your cover letter. Not your résumé. So don’t kill yourself writing the perfect résumé and cover letter and then spend 2 minutes on the submission email. Take your time. Write it, check it for spelling and grammatical errors, read it out loud, show it to someone else, and then send it.
The same goes for when you do get a response. Don’t blindly email back in your moment of excitement. It’s okay to take your time, think about your response and again, check it over for spelling and grammatical errors. After you respond it’s okay to follow up, once, about a week later.
I firmly believe that (especially at the entry level) it doesn’t matter what you say in the interview, but how you say it. As I mentioned before, the person interviewing you is aware that you don’t know everything there is to know about advertising. What they’re looking for is someone that seems eager, intelligent and would be enjoyable to work with. So focus on sounding like someone that genuinely cares about getting the job and if you don’t know something, it’s okay to say so. Better that than ramble on for 2 minutes about absolutely nothing (this happens more often than you’d think, and not just at the entry level).