Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Lovin

As the summer begins, I wanted to take the opportunity to write up a new start for the Job Safari. It’s been a crazy few months and I haven’t had the time to update, but I look forward to jumping back into this project. As the Job Safari approaches it’s first Birthday I wanted to take the chance to say Thank you to everyone who has helped me out by offering their advice and insight towards the entry level’s search. A lot of the success I have had with my own job owes thanks to the advice I have been able to soak up.


So THANK YOU TIMES 80. For those of you who know me, I hate all caps, but this ‘thank you’ deserves special attention. :-)

With that, I do plan on doing a lot more with this blog. I am not sure on the direction as of yet, but I know it will continue to grow and morph into something more…which I am super excited about.

As I am awaiting inspiration towards a new direction, I’ll be spending some time posting stories and advice I haven’t have a chance to jump into yet. If any of you have any advise on what you would like to see done, feel free to throw it out there.


Thank you all again so much,


-Alex

Friday, February 19, 2010

iPhone Business Card fun!





The iPhone can do almost anything, so it's no surprise that there is a digital 'iPhone' business card available. I recently went to a networking event and tried it out... Here is what I found

1. Actions speak louder than words - so many of us 'say' that we are up on the 'digital sphere', but this ap. offers a wonderful way of showing it, in real time. With this ap., I didn't need to say I wanted to break into the digital side, it was implied.

Also, let's not forget that environmental awareness is one of the hottest trends to date. What a better way to show how 'trendy' you are, than to embrace this environmentally friendly card option?

2. I knew we exchanged contacts - This ap. beams your info. directly to someone's email, so you know they received it. It also saves the entered emails, so you may follow-up.

3. It made the exchange of social media less awkward - Asking to add people on twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook via your smart phone can press on the awkward line a bit. However, sending someone my digital business card created an easy, non-awkward, bridge with exchanging other social media outlets. Remember, it's always more effective to connect with others on multiple levels... the more someone knows about you and your goals, the better.

4. It was more sincere - I feel like exchanging business cards has become so 'impersonal' over the years; now a-days, it's almost like trick-or-treating. The nice thing about the business card ap., is that it required me to engage with others during contact swapping. I was able to look others in the eye, hold a good conversation and type in their emails... The more of a personal connection made, the better chance you have of being remembered.

What do you all think?

-Alex

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 10 list!

It’s no secret that I’m not really a ‘Holiday’s guy’. I love the buzz around this time a year, but the 2 days themselves, Thanksgiving and Christmas, tend to be a bit messy.

But, I did want to take the chance to make a little Holiday post. I so often write about the insights of others, and wanted to take the chance to share some things I have personally learned through this crazy Job Safari Journey of fun….

10 may seem like a rather ‘generic’ number, but it was actually thought out. I wanted to honor both Chanukah and Christmas with this post… There are 8 days in Chanukah and 12 days in Christmas… the average of those two numbers is 10.


So here it is, the top 10 things I have learned via the job safari. Please note that this list doesn’t order itself by importance; I feel that all of the following tid-bits are equally significant.

10. Money can’t buy creativity:

It’s no secret that I am far from rich. When I decided to take on this journey, I didn’t have a ‘butt load’ of money or even a decent amount of money. Now, more than ever, it is important to understand how to be creative with your money. Having an experience like this has taught me that principal well and will serve me for a lifetime

9. Don’t be afraid to reach out:

You never know who will reach back and the result will always surprise you. The more you are willing to put out, the more you will get back.

8. Never devaluate anybody:

This sort of goes along with # 9, but still deserves a number of its own. You never know who can help you or what people are capable of. In fact, I have learned the most and gained the most opportunity through super-random people I have met along the way. Always keep an open mind and be willing to chat it up.

7. Go ahead and take a little risk:

I’ll admit; uprooting my semi-comfortable life to take on this journey was a bit scary… There was even a point where I thought of running back to my apartment while in the subway on route to the airport. Life is not something that you can really calculate and weighing your options can only take you so far. Sometimes you need to take that leap of faith and see what comes out of it. I’m glad I did… this experience has proven invaluable… Go ahead, make some invaluable experiences of your own…

6. Follow-up:

They tell you to do this in college, but for me personally it never really stuck until taking on this adventure. People, especially in the ad world, are busy. If they didn’t want you to follow-up, they wouldn’t have responded to you in the first place. If you are fearful you may miss out on opportunity

5. It’s OK to get discouraged… just don’t let that take you out of the game:

I read so many paralleling job advice sites that state ‘don’t get discouraged.’ It gets to a point where the constant slam of this comment makes you feel dirty when you become discouraged. It’s both natural and OK to become discouraged. It’s hard to keep pushing forward and to keep your chin up… Sometimes you want to freak out and cry, and not to sound like a hippie guidance counselor, but it’s totally OK to do that. Let it out, take a step back, reevaluate and jump back in. It’s OK to get emotional; but never let it take you out of the game.

4. Don’t obsess over a name:

As young, aspiring ad. Job seekers it’s so easy to get obsessed with a name. You can feel like if you don’t get a job with ‘insert dream agency here’ you will never be successful. As entry-individuals we need to be obsessed with growing, learning and shaking the ad world. Sometimes big agencies help us do this, sometimes they don’t. Don’t base your learning curve on a name, base it on desired experiences.

3. Don’t’, don’t, again DON’T compare yourself to others!

This only makes you feel depressed and worthless. Everyone has a unique path and a unique situation. Just because someone else got a cool job or opportunity before you, doesn’t mean they are better than you. Remember that a lot of finding opportunity is based on being in the right place at the right time. If you constantly size yourself up to others, you will always come out short. Be obsessed with making your own mark

2. Stay open to opportunities:

That dream job that you created in your head probably doesn’t exist. It’s so important to say open to flexibility and change. You never know where an opportunity will take you

1. Don’t fucking give up!

This may be cliché, but it is so true. No one becomes successful by giving up on their dream. If you really want a job in the ad world, you will get it; you just have to keep trying.

I didn’t want this one to be apart of the ‘official’ list, but remember that nothing relieves stress like a good box of wine.

I want to end this post by saying thank you to all of my friends, family, readers and interviewees. Without your support this project would only exist as a thought in a random coffee shop. I also want to thank all of my new found friends along the way, both professional and personal… Making all of the great connections I did was the best part of this project.

Please feel free to post some things you feel you have learned this year in the comment section!

Stay well and let’s kick some job seeking ass in ’10!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

you're a sports guy, eh? Use that when job searching

So I talked to a cool guy named Scoot Overholt, who works as a strategist at a Philly agency...

Why the ad world?

Something that always interests me is why an individual chooses the ‘Ad world’ route. As we all know, it’s a very diverse industry that can satisfy many needs. Scott told me that he was always a ‘sports’ guy who loved to compete. Scott works in an agency that pays close attention to numbers and is always keeping score; this particular agency environment feeds that sports love.

Your unique interests are a very important thing to consider when job hunting. I feel like so many of us are obsessed with the ‘golden beacon’ that is a job and don’t take the time to consider a good fit. Think about what you want to do and research accordingly… Being miserable at a job you worked so hard to get is worse than being jobless and miserable.

How do we know if a company is the right fit?

-Do your research! Online, books, articles (etc)
-reach out to current and former employees. Most people will be willing to help you if you make the initial effort.



On connections:

Scott stressed that knowing someone is key. Make as many connections as you can.

- go to events you can find tons of events online. Look up your local AD chapter and meetup.com
- reach out on LinkedIN
- Contact alums of your school

Be active on social networks. Social networking is a lot like physically networking. IF you go to a party and are inactive (sit in the corner, looking at your shoes), you won’t make any connections.

Your connections can push your resume to the front of the pile and place your foot in the crack of the door. It is then up to you from there.


On your blossoming career:

“Don’t plan it, let it develop.” Scott made a good point in that you shouldn’t try to live up to a fantasy job, because fantasies don’t exist. If you are constantly comparing yourself to this pre-conceived idea of what you should be doing, you are going to be miserable and hating life… Who wants to do that? Focus on growing, learning and getting better. The ad journey is different for everyone and there is no ‘correct way’ to go about it.

A few random tips


1. Freelance and intern: this is a great way to show employers how much you have learned


2. Most of finding a job is being in the right place at the right time. Remember, the more places you put yourself in, the better chance you have of being there at the right time.

3. Make yourself standout among others. Understand what others are doing and do something different. (how else can we explain the popularity of lady gaga?)

4. Job searching is an organic process… stay open to different possibilities.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Job Fair :)

A job fair exploration:

As I was doing the dishes, my ear caught the ending blurb of a radio broadcast promoting a local job-fair. As an entry-level advertising job seeker, I had often wondered how much success could be generated from attending a generic job-fair. Keep in mind that this was a completely random job-fair, not tailored towards those seeking a career in advertising.

The following video was shot en route to the job-fair. I had no idea what the potential of this fair could be, but I kept an open mind and a positive attitude. As we all know, the coolest opportunities can materialize from the most random situations.

video

The next video was shot outside the parking lot before entering the job-fair. It's important to keep in mind that massive amounts of people attend events like this one. Prior to attending any job-fair, it's a good idea to create promotional pieces that will make you stand out among the rest. Being aspiring-advertisers, we are all bubbling with creativity. Use that to your advantage and help make yourself standout. :) I think the best self-promotion pieces not only draw attention, but work together and help tell your unique story.

video

At the job-fair:

Most of the opportunities within this job-fair were not related to advertising or design in any specific way. However, participating in this job-fair offered a great opportunity to refine and polish interview skills. It was extremely helpful to talk to the prospective employers about the various positions, as it helped me understand my strengths and weakness when talking to people on the spot. Also, I have noticed that a lot of the generic 'are you a good fit for this company' questions were similar to those asked on advertising-specific interviews.

A cool nugget:

The final video is an interview with an innovative job-seeking company, 'hired on the spot.' This company uses new, different and forward-thinking methods to help people, like ourselves, land jobs. If this interview sparks your curiosity, feel free to gain more info at www.hiredonthespot.com

video

Video Note: Sorry the camera is on it's side for some of the interview... I hope it looks more artistic this way. :)

General Thoughts:

This job-fair was not a good resource for specifically landing a potential position in advertising. I feel most agencies who would want to embrace a job-fair like setting, would stick to those that are advertising specific.

Although this fair did not provide leads for a specific position in advertising, it did help me gain much needed practice in 'on the spot interviews' and helped me refine my language when referencing my skills to others. In general, being involved in an interview is not an easy task; practice makes perfect. On another note, it was helpful to meet other people who may not be in the advertising industry, but are in the same 'job-seeking' boat.

My advice is that if you hear of a generic job-fair, such as this one, and you have the spare time, go. These fairs provide the opportunity to place yourself in new and uncommon situations that will help you become better at the interview process. Remember, being able to communicate your skills to a potential employer is just as important as having the skills.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Staff it up!

Hey all,

I'm over the flu and back with a vengeance! Here is an awesome interview with a very insightful recruiter named Debbie. I think it's super important to get as many perspectives as possible on this site. The more well rounded we are on this subject, the better chance we will have.

Enjoy :)

-Alex

I'd love to hear a quick summary of what you do and how you broke into the staffing field.

I just fell into it (like most of us do). Back in 1988, when I was about 19, I went to a staffing agency in Los Angeles to find an Administrative Assistant position and they ended up offering me a job as a Recruiter to work for them.

What are the advantages of finding a job through a staffing firm?

Staffing agencies can help job seekers in a variety of areas:
  • They can give advice and tips about how to write the most effective resume.
  • They can give you advice about how to most effectively answer tough interview questions.
  • They can test you so you’ll know how fast you type, or what level of proficiency you are in a variety of software programs.
  • This is the biggest reason: They can provide insight about a company, job, supervisor, etc. to better prepare you for a successful interview. (Things you’ll never know just by applying to a job posting.)
  • They may know of a local company who hires entry-level candidates and can share that information with you, or possibly, they can try to get you an interview by contacting the company on your behalf (though this rarely happens unless the candidate is really, really “marketable” – READ: someone who they feel the company is willing to pay the agency’s fee to hire). I know, this is the ugly truth, staffing agencies are a business and are geared to assist companies to find employees who match their job criteria, not the other way around. Sorry for the brutal truth.

Do staffing agency's work with entry-level individuals often? Why or why not?

Yes, if they have a job requisition from a company which is seeking an Intern or Trainee, they are actively seeking entry-level candidate’s for the position. If they don’t have an open job for an entry-level candidate, or know of a company that will hire a great entry-level candidate, then they most likely will not be of any use to the candidate.

What is the biggest mistake you notice on a cover letter or resume?

Not clearly emphasizing their particular skills which match the job they are applying for. The one-cover-for-all-jobs just doesn’t work in a tough job market. Use your resume and cover letter to “sell” your qualifications for the specific job you’re applying for.

What is the biggest mistake you would say occurs during the interview process?

Hmmm, there’s so many. Here’s a few scenarios I’ve seen:

Inappropriately dressed. Ask what to wear at the time the interview is set…don’t guess…you’ll end up arriving either too casual or too professional. Not every industry/company expects someone to show up in a suit and tie – and some, will instantly disqualify you if you do.

How important is it to follow up with a lead?

Depends on the lead.

Where is the line drawn on following up too much vs. not enough?

This one’s kind of a common sense questions. If you sense that you’re bothering someone, leave them alone. Or, if you’re getting no response, move along.

As entry-levels, we are constantly hearing the importance of making connections. What do you think is the most effective way to make connections?

Sorry, there’s no “most effective way”, the best way is whatever is working for you. Try as many ways as you know of until you find some that work best.

  • Friends, Teachers/Professors, Parent’s Friends
  • Networking Groups, Internet, etc. the list is never-ending…wherever there are people, there are opportunities to make a connection.

Is there a wrong way to make connections?

Not sure what this question is asking. Obviously, if you’d want to be professional, tactful, and considerate of people’s time and interest in helping.

What is the biggest difference between the job searching process between an entry-level individual and an individual with a lot of experience?

No difference at all, both require research to find the right job, effort to know out who the right person is to get your resume in front of, and considerate follow-up. I constantly hear how difficult it is to obtain a position through online postings due to the high volume of responses received.

What are some of the best ways to stand out in these digital situations?

Not clearly emphasizing their particular skills which match the job they are applying for. The one-resume-for-all-jobs just doesn’t work in a tough job market. Use your resume and cover letter to “sell” your qualifications for the specific job you’re applying for.

Recruiters sift through responses in their Inbox by searching through the resumes using the most crucial keywords for the job. For example, if the job description says “SOX” is required, make sure that your resume has that keyword, too. If you have “Sarbanes-Oxley”, add a “SOX” somewhere in your resume, too, so that your resume will pop up in the recruiters search.

Any advice on using twitter, LinkedIn and facebook to land a position?

Yes, use them all. :) don’t have specific advice about what you should do, that would take a LONG time to write, and there are MANY websites out there with specifics on each site.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Let’s celebrate Monday with some quick insight into the effectiveness of LinkedIN!

Hello everyone!

Happy Monday! The following are responses I received via LinkedIn on a 'LinkedIn based' question. I think it’s really cool to see how responses differ through the various methods of advice/insight seeking. Enjoy!


Question posed via Linked IN:

Hey everyone! I don't have a post for this yet and would love to get some opinions. How can we as entry-level job seekers make our LinkedIn profiles more effective? -Thanks!

Answers:

1. Hey, Alex: here are some "To Do's" to beef up your LinkedIn profile:

* join LinkedIn groups and other professional groups related to your industry; share useful answers to questions from other group members; link to members of the group; pose questions to the group

* join and participate in alumni groups from any school or previous employer; link to members of the group * on your profile, add links to your professional blog or Twitter account (not a personal Twitter account that gives updates like "I am sitting on the porch.")

* link to everyone you admire who you used to work with and currently work with

* give and get recommendations from people you used to work with and currently work with There are other things you can do, but just doing the above will add good value to your LinkedIn profile. If you want to add even more value to your profile, link to me : )

-Mary 'marymac' MacKinnon
Available: Online Marketing Sales Strategist: drives traffic to websites to generate significant sales leads


2. I've always felt one should never hide the fact that he or she is just entering the job world. New is fresh. Fresh ideas. Fresh attitudes. As for facts: record of an internship or ad-related job is good (you have that). A recommendation by a professor, internship/job supervisor is helpful. Avoid puffery in one's text--it looks bad even for seasoned folks. Almost forgot...someone WILL see you or your book, remember to pass that goodwill onto another junior once established. Good luck, you're off to strong start.

-David Fong
Freelance Art Director, David Michael Fong Advertising Concept and Design

3. Share your ideas. You bring a fresh set of eyes to the table. This is very much a work in progress. (Boy is it a work in progress!) Approach it from a "Here's what I think needs to be done to get things to the next level and here's some thoughts on how to do it." Good luck!

- John W Scherer
John W Scherer, Founder and CEO of Video Professor, Inc


4. LinkedIn is basically a very popular place you can post your resume online for the world to view, as well as network with specific Groups. I'd say the most effective thing to do on LinkedIn for a talented person entering the job market is to know what type of job you want and write about all the talent, education, experience and knowledge you have that demonstrates how you'd be a great choice for a company to consider for an entry-level position.

For instance, let's say you've just acquired a Marketing degree and are ready to light the world on fire with your talent, you should give examples of the marketing areas you excel in on your LinkedIn profile. Are you more creative and great with branding a product/designing ads/writing catchy slogans/etc., or, are you great with analyzing demographics/managing marketing data/creating spreadsheets, etc., whatever your SPECIFIC talents are...highlight your talent in a way that a company can see how you'd tackle projects they need accomplished and how you'd be a worthwhile addition to the team.

Use your LinkedIn profile as your own personal commercial to sell your value and usefulness to your next employer. Post as much industry knowledge as you have -- remember, when the company recruiters or Hiring Managers are looking for their next intern or entry-level employee, the profiles that match the search criteria/search words will be the ones who are reviewed and invited in for an interview. It's what you can do for them -- not what they can do for you that will separate you from the pack.

- Debbie Duguay, CIR
Executive Recruiter / Sr. Staffing Manager at Kaizen Staffing


5. Never underestimate what value youth and enthusiasm brings to the discussion. Many professionals get jaded and lose sight of innovation after a while in corporate America, particularly if they have remained in one job for several years. Participate in the discussions and don't be afraid to give your opinion or ask questions. Don't stagnate, always be open to sharing ideas and listening to others and you will succeed. Be committed to lifelong learning and network with those who can provide a mentoring relationship. My sincerest wishes for success. - Molly

Molly Walpola
VP of marketing at PureOFlow