Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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…
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Note: Sorry the camera is on it's side for some of the interview... I hope it looks more artistic this way. :)
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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
VP of marketing at PureOFlow
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I have been applying to quite a few places via the internet, and today I received an email back from one. It wasn’t that wonderful interview I was hoping for, actually it was the complete opposite; a nicely written and personalized rejection. In this situation most would be upset by the outcome but I was quite happy. It sucks that I didn’t get it, but I now know they read my application and my cover letter. The company told me they received 100s of responses, and went through all of them. This made me realize that in order to get a job via online; you must keep pushing and responding to the online posts despite rejection and disappointment.
In general, keep in mind that people will read what you send. If you are determined enough to brush off rejection and keep on plugging, it’s only a matter of time before a company wants what you have and calls you in.
Do not give up! Keep trying, and it will happen.
-That’s all for now, Alex
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
With that being said, I was on LinkedIn the other day when I came across a job posting for Page One PR. Living in SF for quite a while, I had heard of Page One, but still took the opportunity to thicken my understanding of the company.
Page One PR is a very innovative, forward-thinking firm. The realization that traditional PR methods did not work for their clients sparked the creation of this company.
I emailed the company and explained my project and heard back from Mr. Craig Oda, who offered to answer a few questions via email. The following is the raw email received from Mr. Oda. Enjoy!
Please check out the company's website at www.PageOnePR.com
-Alexander N Harvilla
These questions are my personal perspective. Some points about me:
- managing partner at Page One PR
- executive in charge of strategy for all social media programs
- currently working on strategy with a mix of Silicon Valley startups and large tech companies like Cisco and SAP.
- started first ISP in Japan, now part of Cable and Wireless Japan
Can't help but love and embrace the US's migration towards electronic music. Awesome, right?
How did you break into the PR industry?
A group of us in Silicon Valley were trying to develop business models around open source software. We had raised $96 million in venture funding and saw that the public perception of software was critical to the success of start-ups. Having hired many PR firms, we found that the traditional way of doing PR did not adequately address the need to communicate to people online. Traditional PR especially didn't address the viral communication aspects that were so critical to open source communities. My friend Lonn Johnston decided to leave the venture-funded start-up we were at and eventually started Page One PR. He asked me to join him on this incredible journey to build a new type of PR company.
Knowing what you know now would you do it differently? If so how?
I think we were successful under Lonn's strategic leadership. In retrospect, I might have hired young, smart people earlier and built up teams around them.
When looking for a job, can one be too aggressive? Is it better to be too aggressive than too shy?
Well, that's pretty obvious. If you are a shy PR person, you're not going to stand out above the competition.
What do you think the difference is when trying to land a job at a large agency vs. a smaller one?
Smaller agencies generally want people that can take on larger blocks of responsibility more quickly with less direction. Larger agencies might be more interested in experience with the process of PR and especially dealing with the internal communication issues of larger organizations.
In 4 words, can you say something inspiring to those currently job searching?
Huge opportunity now!
How can we use cultural trends to help us find a position?
The culture is changing very rapidly. Expertise in the new elements of culture probably doesn’t exist internal to most organizations. By showcasing how the culture has changed and why your experience with the new culture is relevant, you'll be able to capitalize on the HUGE opportunities we're now faced with in the communications industry.
What are some ideas and methods we can implement to 'up' the value of our social network?
People are obviously moving from print media to online media. People are also looking for product and corporate information from their friends, not just the traditional paid influencers.
What are some methods to make ourselves more visual within social media?
Do a campaign pro-bono for a high-profile non-profit. Don't charge them in return for them serving as a reference for you.
I would love to hear your view on the importance of a multifaceted social networking profile.
A small number of strong channels are better than having a shallow presence in many channels. Ultimately, people will find out about the strength of your ideas.
I have been told that it is very important to sound "real" and more "like a person" when applying for a job online. What are some effective ways to do this?
Your employer will most likely see your LinkedIn and public Facebook profile. If you're a top candidate, they'll scrutinize your cover letter. You should send an introduction letter regardless of whether or not they ask for it.
Creating a portfolio of your work might distinguish you.
What is the importance of having a unique voice? How do we show this uniqueness without being tacky?
You need to have strong ideas. Even student-run campaigns can showcase strong ideas that will resonate with employers.
What is the most effective tool to have or use when job hunting?
If I were looking for job, I would start with my existing network of friends and try to do work for their company even without getting paid. Proof of successful work experience and products is going to be the most effective tool. Also, you're going to be top of the list to move from a volunteer to a paid position if your work is any good. Taking contract work might also help.
If SFO's ad market were a dessert, what would it be, how would it taste and how would you eat it?
Tiramisu comes to mind. It's a mixture of light layers and more dense layers with a bittersweet chocolate and caffeine kick. Get it and eat it right now before someone else does.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
After my visit to The Art Institute of Chicago, I decided to grab a drink at a random establishment. In general, drinking by yourself is no fun so to remedy this, I turned to the guy next to me and started a conversation. It just so happens that this gentleman, Kirk Miller, is the global account manager of Vodafone, the largest international cell phone company in the world. On a local perspective, Vodafone controls 44.8% of Verizon Wireless. I enthusiastically explained my Job Safari to Kirk, and before I knew it, he offered to be a part of it.
Kirk is responsible for two major accounts for the Vodafone business. His major duties are to:
1. Negotiate contracts and new business on the customer’s behalf with the goal of increasing Vodafone’s share of business in other companies. He fulfills these tasks by meeting with local and regional IT and discussing ways that Vodafone is the right strategic partner for their business.
2. Evaluate mobility challenges for customs and create strategic spending decisions.
In a nut shell, Kirk has a ‘Cosmo Martini’ of a job that mixes business, sales marketing and strategy.
Kirk and I met at a lovely Café in downtown Chi Town. While sitting at this cafe, the first thing I noticed about Kirk is his down to earth, humble attitude and his willingness to talk to people; character traits needed to be a part of this people-centric industry.
One thing you wish you knew:
Be persistent. It really pays off to keep plugging away and never stop.
Kirk also emphasized understanding the employer’s motivation behind interviewing you. As a job seeker, this means understanding the needs and wants of the company and using these to leverage your skills and assets.
When I asked how one could figure out a company’s motivation, Kirk simply said “just ask. By asking others what propels them to success, you are also helping brand yourself.” You can demonstrate how much you know about a business by asking the right questions.
Kirk also suggests that you recognize the importance of your brand. If you do good work, make it known without being a jackass. You need to sell your brands on multiple levels to generate a buzz about yourself.
As far as breaking into a company...
To start, the economy is forcing people to pursue opportunities harder and more aggressively. This means you need to be first, fast and different.
Kirk recommends that you skip HR and get to know people within the business. You can do this by calling the company and asking for an “informational interview” on the subject for advice on your work, via LinkedIn, other social networking sites, or you can even ask people you know personally. Don’t be afraid to "flex your networking muscle, as you know a lot more people than you might think. Simple email blasts to all of your ‘peeps’ can yield new contacts."
Also, do your research and equate yourself with the company’s business language to gain more leverage.
Prior to the interview, get to know the company’s challenges and ask questions about it. A smart way to do this is to look at industry reports and take note of the language. Also, state that you are aware of the poor economy and that you can contribute to business efforts to increase business.
As a side note on this point, Hoovers.com gives access to many free services without having to sign up for a subscription. This includes industry reports. - Thanks Julia Johnson :)
Kirk states that there is a fine line between showing off and showing you have done your homework. In general, the less you use the word ‘I’ the less you risk showing off. Use words like 'we,' or 'my group.'
Also, you should do some self reflection and understand how you personally measure success. If you don’t know, how can you expect to go anywhere?
Finally, do not accept no! If someone tells you no, ask why.
On the Cover Letter:
Make sure that it is well researched and never send a resume without a cover letter. Make your cover letter compelling and state your objective upfront. Limit your chance of “bullshit” by keeping the objective crisp, clean and limit it to one to two lines at most. Keep your objective directional, but not overly specific as this could limit you.
The last paragraph should have a course of action. For example, "I will call you on Friday at noon." NEVER say "I look forward to hearing from you." Finally, do not be afraid to follow up.
This can be applied to a resume, cove letter, or interview; pretty much any capacity where you will be discussing a position. Kirk stresses the importance of using words that sell. Here is a list of Kirk’s top ten:
Rhetorical language is extremely powerful and an excellent tool to use while in an interview. This involves proposing a question yourself to generate an answer. This is a great way to get the interviewer to ask you good questions.
Keep yourself busy...
If you can’t find a job, work on preparing yourself for when the economy does bounce back. Doing nothing is always an awful idea. Take extra classes, do some independent projects, read books and become more familiar with your ideal business.
Last words of advice:
Don’t walk into an interview with preconceived notions about a person or company. Keep an open mind; if you are offered advice listen to it, don’t ignore it. Be open to any opportunity as you never know where an opportunity will take you. Be prepared to take any entry level jobs and evolve it yourself.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Thank you everyone so much for your support! I could not do it without any of you :)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I was able to get in touch with Rebecca Sanders, head of creative recruitment. From the second we began ‘talking shop’ I could hear the passion in her voice and sense her willingness to help others succeed. Overall, she was a very powerful person to talk to.
On another note, I’ve been typing up a lot of articles as of late and feel like this blog needs a little shake. For this interview, I am going to relate all of the advice to various songs and lyrics. I hope you enjoy it!
“Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing…” – Abba, Thank you for the Music
Don’t forget to send a thank you note. Rebecca emphasized that many fail to remember this. As a result those people are either forgotten about, or discarded. Don’t let something as simple as dropping a ‘thank you’ note destroy your chance at a potential position.
“Call me on the line · Call me call me any anytime ·Call me!” – Blondie, Call Me
A nice, polite phone call is a great way to show your interest and stand out among the rest.
Don’t rely solely on email to generate a response! HR is usually super busy and gets slammed with a ton of emails on a daily basis.
‘Questions, I've got some questions. I want to know you, but what if I could ask you only one thing…’ –Jack Johnson, Questions
Do your research and know the agency prior to the interview. Be prepared to ask questions relevant to the agency’s current clients, culture and opportunities. Rebecca also declares that “taking light notes during the interview is a great way to demonstrate your interest and impress the employer with your preparation.”
“That's all I get if this is communication…” - The Cardigans, Communication
People in the ad world get distracted easily. Be able to communicate what you can bring to the company in a short, clear, concise manner. In a nut shell, know your “raw deal”.
“Name it, rate it, tune it, print it,Scan it, send it, fax - rename it, Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it,Turn it, leave it, start - format it.Technologic [4x]…” – Daft Punk, Technologic
To be in the ad world, you need to be digitally savvy. Get on Linkedin, facebook, twitter, etc. and post your interest for a position followed by your skills. When Rebecca needs to fill a position, she migrates through facebook and linked in to find the right people.
“Get out (leave) right now · it's the end of you and me ..”–Jo Jo, Get Out
“If you don’t adapt you will have to get out”, was a comment Rebecca made in relation to the rising of digital media. As striving advertisers, we must stay updated on the newest forms of communication. Always be doing your research and striving to say on the cutting edge.
“Think (think) think (think) think (think) think (think) think (think) think (think) You better think (think) think about what you're trying to do to…” -Aretha Franklin, Think
On a designer portfolio specific note, looks are not as important as communicating a good idea. A design portfolio should show how you think. As fresh graduates, we haven’t had the opportunity to work on real brands. Therefore we must demonstrate HOW we will work on brands when given the opportunity. Show your THOUGHT PROCESS! Use your designs to show how you see the world.
On another note, your own blog is also great way to do this.
“There are only 2 types of people in this world, the ones that entertain and the ones that observe…”-Britney Spears, Circus
Do something that will make you stand out among the rest. One way of doing this is to create a non-traditional resume or pitch. For example, I know a woman who sent bubblegum, with her resume printed on the wrapper, to various agencies. What an attention getter!
“I go humble.You're so curiously pure,only before you I'm humble,I go humble.You amaze me,only before you I'm humble.” -Bjork,I Go Humble lyrics
Be humble and willing to learn. Rebecca stated than many entry-level job seekers “toot their horn too loud.” This can cause a major disconnect between you and the employer. As entry levels, we need to recognize that we have to put in our time and climb the ladder.
“Dream until your dream come true. Dream on, dream on, dream on” – Aerosmith, Dream On
Be willing to take an internship or something that isn’t quite your dream job. In general, planning your perfect position is impossible and you must make the best out of any opportunity. Remember that a job is only as good as you make it.
“Because you gotta have faith!” – George Michael, Faith
When I asked Rebecca for some words of encouragement, she told me to be persistent, be patient and have faith. If you keep trying and stay positive YOU WILL LAND SOMETHING.
Thank you Rebecca! Your advice is an asset to us all.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Small vs. Big:
A question that has been burning inside me is related to large agencies vs. smaller agencies. If you really want to work in a “big agency” setting, is it better to hold out for that specific opportunity or take a gig at a smaller place and gain a bit of experience? Kimberly explained that the way you handle this situation is relative to your lifestyle. If you really desire a ‘big agency’ job, you must consider how long you can really afford to hold out.
Kimberly also disclosed that "it isn’t that black and white. It is possible to work at a large agency in a junior capacity and not gain relevant experience, but the same could happen at a smaller agency. It all depends on how the agency runs and what the agency specifically does. That’s why it is important to do your research and find out specifically what brands you could potentially work on as an entry level associate."
Don’t be afraid to ask which projects you may be working on during the interview. If you are being interviewed for a position, the agency will have a good idea what you would be doing if hired.
On an account planning/strategy specific note, it is really difficult to break into this concentration as a junior account executive. One way in is through taking an account job, and then asking if you could take on some extra planning-focused projects after-hours. This shows your initiative and will not go unrewarded. If your desire is to work in smaller teams, don’t completely close yourself off to larger agencies; do your research first! Again, agency culture is not so black and white. There are large agencies, like Ogilvy and JWT, which embrace smaller teams and vice versa. In general, don’t pass judgments without doing your research first.
On your network:
Building your network is dependant on how you choose to “take advantage or not take advantage of opportunities.” If you’re not willing to put in the work that goes behind developing and growing your network, of course you will come up empty handed. Be your own brand and take advantage of what you can to put yourself out there. You can join LinkedIn groups, read and comment on blogs, go to local events… The more exposure you get, the more likely you are to find a helpful connection.
In general, if you really want into the advertising world you will find a way. Just keep trying; if what you’re doing isn’t working, reevaluate and try again. Our economy puts us all in a “sink or swim” situation. Don’t give up and swim hard:
Note from your blog master: I know how hard it is to stay motivated and focused. Believe me when I say that I am guilty of crying in my room due to jobless situations. It is important for all of us to stay positive and motivated. PLEASE SWIM HARD! I know you all can do it!
A good tip: Talk to interesting people! It’s a great way to get yourself out there.
This economy can be good?
Kimberly expressed that as a result of this economy, many agencies are being restructured. This provides the opportunity for new methods and new ways of thinking to come into play. Take the time to read up on the ad agencies of your choice and learn from their restructuring; it will help keep you in the loop and help your advertising future.
SOME OTHER WONDERFUL NEWS: From this restructuring, many new jobs are being formed and put out there. However, entry level jobs are the last to be formed and filled. In the words of Kimberly: “It starts at the top and trickles down.”
This gives us, as entry level job seekers, the opportunity to learn and surround ourselves with new aspects of the world. Kimberly recommends that we read, connect and research as much as we can. This way when entry level positions are created, we are the first to be thought of and are well prepared.
The following is a “good book” list sent to me from Kimberly that we can all take advantage of to better prepare ourselves.
-The New Influencers
-Marketing to the Social Web
-The Big Switch: Rewiring the world, from Edison to Google
-Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World
Be prepared for the digital world:
Make an effort to embrace the digital and social media world. So many agency jobs are being restructured to include all the fun of the digital world. PREPARE YOURSELF by reading, researching, and attending lectures; form an opinion and a footprint on the digital world.
To close, the economy is starting to bounce back. Stay positive, keep trying and don’t give up… Show the world you mean business!
A blurb from the recent interview with Tom Jeffrey was featured on http://www.lowonganbisnis.com/search/My+Job+for+an+Entry+Level!
I am so happy that this blog is reaching so many people and I could not do it without all of my wonderful supporters, contributors, readers and followers. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!
Your blog writer and bff,
Friday, August 14, 2009
To get the word out about this blog, I posted blog based questions on various Linkedin discussions. Tom Jeffrey, a partner at Hook in Charleston, South Carolina, left a very insightful comment on one of the discussions.
This inspired me to email him and ask if he would be interested in doing a post of his own. As you can all see, he was!
The following is the raw email received from Mr. Jeffrey himself... ENJOY!
1. How did you break into the advertising field?
I applied for a freelance position at a small agency. I was invited in for an interview and the owner of the agency confessed that he had received a pile of resumes and samples, but left them on a plane during a business trip. I was the only person to follow up. I started freelancing for them right away and was hired full-time within a month.
Wanting to get into a bigger market, I saw an agency in Philadelphia had won the Sunoco Gasoline account. I scrounged up an old tire from a repair station, cleaned it and and then painted in white letters, "COPYWRITER HITS HIGHWAY" on one side and my name and phone number on the other. I made the tire shine with some Armor All and mailed to the agency. They called the day they received it to have me come in for an interview and I was hired a few days later.
2. What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were an entry level job seeker?
How important it is to make yourself stand out. After being in the business for several year, I went to meet with a head hunter in NYC. He had at least 100 black portfolios lined up in his office. The next day I bought vintage green suitcase and that has served as my portfolio ever since. That alone put my book at the front of the pile.
3. When looking for a job, can one be too aggressive? Is it better to be too aggressive than to be too shy?
Yes, it is possible to be too aggressive. You want the people you're corresponding with at a company to like you. Get too aggressive and you may come across as annoying and take yourself out of contention for any future openings. I don't think you can be too shy when looking for a job. If you have a great resume or great portfolio, people are going to notice and contact you.
4. What do you think the difference is when trying to land a job at a large agency vs. a smaller one?
There are more doors to get through at large agencies and you're probably going to run up against a lot more competition. At smaller agencies, it's often easier to get your resume/portfolio in front of the decision makers. In my own experience, it also seems the folks at smaller shops are more likely to provide feedback.
5. Applying to online job posts... can one ever land a job this way? Is there something us entry level job seekers can do to make this method more effective?
You can absolutely find work through online job posts. I've done it myself. If you know which company is posting the job, do your research and learn as much as you can about the company - their clients, any new business wins or new news. Then take your time and write a great letter to send. Each letter you send should be tailored to the job your applying for. If it's a blind online posting, play up your strengths. Be personable.
6. In 3 words, can you say something inspiring to those currently job searching.
Never give up.
7. How do you find new talent when your Hook is in need?
First we comb through the resumes/portfolios we have on file. We've also placed ads on Communication Arts.
8. What is something an entry level job seeker candidate could do to really "wow" you
We're very focused on our creative, so a really good portfolio is key. We also like to see letters that show an applicants personality.
Too often college graduates are taught to write boring, conservative cover letters. You should be professional, but at the same time, it's important to be yourself. Show a little life. Avoid formula letters at all costs. Send something fun in the mail.
9. I'd love to hear any comments you have on building a digital network.It's a smart idea to build your online network.
You never know when you can tap into those connections for tips, advice and insights that can help you with interviews or information about a particular agency.
10. I'd love to hear any advice you have on face to face networking.
Be professional and be yourself. Along with talking about yourself, be sure to ask questions about the person you're networking with.
A few other points:
Timing has a lot to do with getting hired. If agencies don't respond to your letter and resume, don't automatically assume they don't like you. More often than not, they're not hiring and it's not always possible to respond to every resume, especially for smaller shops.
- Do your research. Make sure you know the agency you're sending a resume to. Don't write one cover letter to send to everyone. Demonstrate that you know what kind of work the company does, who they work for, etc.
- Read the trade magazines and website. Watch for which agencies are winning business and which ones are losing accounts. Agencies often staff up when they win big pieces of business.
- Show some creativity when contacting agencies
. - When applying for jobs, take your time with your letter. Write, re-write it and re-write it again. I sometimes think applicants feel if their resume gets to the door first, they're going to get the job. That's not the way it works. Agencies are looking at how well people write and communicate. It's a big part of this business, regardless which department you're trying to get into.
Hope you all loved this post as much as I did! Check out the agency website at http://www.hookusa.com/
Thursday, August 13, 2009
"The role of dress on a job interview is to avoid causing any negatives to your first visual impression. If you know that a suit is going to knock you out of the running, by all means wear something else. So far, I cannot think of a job interview where wearing a suit would offend the interviewer (unless is is for a clothing design job and the suit you are wearing is from a competitive designer.) "
Product Manager/Brand Manager for Altaquip
You all like? I DO!
Posting the Job Safari on LinkedIn has again generated some new advice. Take a look
"professionals...real professionals pursue work with the calm confidence that comes with experience. if you don't have that calm confidence yet, "fake it 'til you make it." a note every 6-8 weeks will keep you in mind without becoming known as a pest. keep it relaxed. just touch base...check in. send the occasional sample of some new work. NURTURE your contacts just like you would a new business prospect. "
freelance creative director
The following are comments on the discussion "Wearing a suit and tie to a job interview is not always the right choice...."
"If you do you homework and research the company you're going to interview with, you should have a pretty good idea of how to dress. And yes, in the ad world there's a good chance the suit and tie is not necessary."
"I presume wearing Suit & tie to a job interview is always right. Although I also feel that what you wear completely depends on the profile you are being interviewed for as well as the industry you want to be part of. But the base line is you should be able to carry whatever you are wearing. "
Hope you all enjoyed that!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
A note from me, the blog master: It is an amazing opportunity to see Mars operate in different capacities and gain an understanding of how the distinct offices work both independently and with one another.
For those still in school:
“Focus less on class and more on experience.” Filled with passion, Ethan states that he learned more working in groups and getting involved in a variety of activities/functions, than he did in his University classes. Outside experiences will help you “break away from the norm and embrace new ways thinking.”
Note from me, the blog master: Getting involved in outside activities will also help you get familiar with and understand culture and people…. Advertising and culture go hand and hand.
Breaking into the field:
When I asked Ethan specifically how he broke into the field of Advertising, he told me that he just fell into it. Each new opportunity he embraced, led him closer to his current job in advertising. The moral of this is to keep yourself open and receptive to a variety of experiences and opportunities as you never know where they may lead. Ethan emphasizes that while it is important to take on as many opportunities as you can, still keep your end goal in sight. Don’t be afraid of change, as change can lead to the best connections. Oh, and EMBRACE CHALLENGES!
Also, don’t be afraid of starting out at the bottom. Many of us entry level job seekers contrive this awful nightmare of being abused at the bottom, but as an entry level employee it is important to grow and develop through the ranks. ‘Climbing the ladder’ will help you gain more respect from others within the company and your field. Keep in mind that hard, valiant work, regardless of the position, will turn heads and pay off.
Ethan also stressed how hugely importantly networking is; “It’s how I landed my job in Advertising.”
There is a difference between Personal and Professional networking. You can gain a new world of connections through people you know on a personal level. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends and family and let them know you are looking for a job. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you will be to receive a response.
As far as professional networking, Linked in, Twitter and Facebook are great ways to do this. As an entry level job seeker, it is important to put fourth the effort to create your digital network.
Finally, do some research and check out your cities own networking hubs. You can do this by googling advertising events in your city, and by checking out your local AIGA or Ad fed chapter. An alumni club is also a great way to make some connections.
Be persistent and set your self apart from others. In Ethan’s words, “This approach may turn some people off, but you probably wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.”
Being a ’good fit’ at an agency is just as important as having the necessary skills to excel at the position. If you are true to yourself throughout the job seeking process, when you do land a position it will be the best fit for both you and the company.
As far as your interview attire, it should be dependant on the culture of the organization. Some agencies project a relaxed, social atmosphere and being over dressed could send the wrong signal and vice versa. Remember that a job interview does not always equal a suite and tie. Do your research prior to the interview to find out how you should dress. You can conduct this research by isolating social networking tools, or through contacting an individual at the agency for advice. Remember that as a job seeker it is a rarity to hear no when reaching out to someone and requesting advice.
It is important to be confidant, comfortable and calm during an interview. Keep in mind that an interview is merely an intelligent conversation and that there is nothing to be nervous about. Also, a good way to make yourself memorable is through being engaging dynamic and social.
Keep it easy to read but make it visually compelling at a fist glance. A good tip from Ethan, add a 2 sentence blurb at the top about who you are.
As far as your experience section, don’t solely list what you have done, describe it and offer tangible results. For example, don’t write ‘marketing coordinator for project‘, write ‘developed and executed creative marketing plan that showed 75 % effectiveness in the market place.’ As a general rule, meaningful things stand out.
Don’t forget to run your resume by as many and as wide of a variety of people as you can. Professionals, friends, family, and drinking buddies alike may all have something interesting and relevant to say. Don’t be afraid of criticism, see it as an opportunity to strengthen your weaknesses.
A final note from your blog master: Being fearless of criticism is easier said than done. It took me a long time to embrace criticism and I honestly still get nervous hearing it. The only way to become more comfortable with criticism is to suck it up, request it and embrace the responses. Believe me, the more you embrace it, the less it will bother you.
A few final words of advice from Ethan
Stay positive, don’t take rejection personally and be persistent.
Thanks Ethan, you are a man of good words.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I posted the blog URL on the "advertising professional" group on Linked in and received this tid bit of advice from an experienced professional at AdelphiEden Health Communications. Here is what they had to say
" I once had an entry level candidate show up unexpectedly at my office the same day of the phone interview. I had told them that I would be in touch soon regarding next steps. Showing up unexpectedly did not come across in a positive way. My advice is to follow up with a thank you e-mail, and to touch base the week after to see if there are any updates. "
Ms. Hamm stressed the importance of being prepared and doing your research. Know the exact agency you are talking to. Many large agencies have multiple departments and focuses. If you are contacting the PR sector, and think you are contacting the Design/ creative sector, you risk sounding unprepared and stupid.
Note from your blog master: Believe me this is true… not that I’ve done this… (wink, wink)
The WOW factor:
As far as the WOW factor, Ms. Hamm stressed the importance of doing your homework prior to the interview. Also, respect the interviewers time as most are very busy and cannot give up a ½ hour to discuss thing with you. Think about the message you want to portray and be brief. Prior to the interview, be able to sum up in 30 seconds what value you can bring to the company.
Another note from your blog master: Practice the delivery of this 30 second message in front of others. Believe me when I say that thinking it and saying it are VERY different.
Also, make yourself compelling. Research the company’s current needs and use those as leverage when selling yourself. Know which parts to play up and which to play down.
Let’s not be an obsessive fan, OK?:
“Don’t forget to follow up but without being a stalker” was anther piece of interview advice Linda offered. You need to demonstrate interest, without being annoying. You need to follow up with a “soft touch, not a hard sell.”
Again, Ms. Hamm, like many others, stresses that networking is crucial. Knowing people can put your resume at the front of the pile. You can meet agency professionals by doing your research and reaching out. Connect to industry professional by asking for insights and advice on your work. Most everyone in this industry is willing to help, you just need to make the effort and ask.
On the job market in Chicago:
Linda Hamm stresses that the market is all the same across the board. It is rough, and very hard to find a job. As entry levels, we have it particularly rough because we are in competition with everyone. Due to the recent layoffs, many individuals with much more experience take entry level jobs at the pay decrease.
But, does this me we give up and cry, NO!. Linda stresses that we need to be flexible and embrace any opportunities, even if they are not exotically what we want.
On a final note:
Try to get face time. This means asking for informational interviews, even if no positions are available. The more face time you can get, the more memorable you will be when a job does open.
Thanks Linda! Your ‘big picture‘ advice is a value to us all.
Monday, August 10, 2009
So, since my laptop died somewhere between Chicago and Pittsburgh, this is my first post via iPhone. This method may take twice as long, but my desire to post this awesome info well overides the extra time.
Start: The Story
This person remains nameless due to prior agreements, but she is very insightful and has quite a bit of experience under her belt. She found this site via a spray painted URL in the financial district of San Francisco. Please note that I was not the individual who tagged the URL.
Anywho, she contacted me and was interested in posting. This goes to show you, connections happen in very strange ways. The following is her raw, emailed advice to me, and now to you... Enjoy!
I've interviewed countless people and here are
some of my tips to interviewing,resume/cover letter
writing,networking,and networking sights like
Smiling is so important if you forget to
smile it goes hand-in-hand with eye contact when it comes to making a
good impression.A smile can make the difference between otherwise
Eye contact is the best way to connect with the
person on the other side of the table. Use it to your advantage and it
can win you the job. Avoid it and it looks like you are hiding
Asking no questions this is critical. If you don’t ask
intelligent, informed questions, it will appear that you are only
there for the job and not to become part of the team. Giving long
answers relates to respecting the employer’s time. Give short, concise
answers to avoid rambling. It will help to reinforce that you know
what you are talking about.
Don't Be Needy or Overbearing: coming off
desperate is a major turn-off. Employers want confident, capable
candidates who are easy to get along with.Don’t talk about how hard
you worked. Stress what was achieved ,and what you can bring to the
table.Be nice to everyone.The receptionist may be more influential
than an oral board member they are often the first point of contact
before meeting anyone in the company .The main goal of a cover letter
is to get you noticed and convince an employer to look at your
resume.While personalizing this letter cannot guarantee success, not
personalizing it will (almost) guarantee failure.
Send out more resumes. A job search is often a numbers game.A long with
personalizing a cover letter it would be interesting if a "creative"
got creative and personal with their resume as well. So it goes
without saying that I don’t have to remind you to be careful about
what you post on social networking sites
(Twitter,Facebook,LinkedIn,Myspace,Blog Sites).I am in fact on most if
not all those websites just to check on prospective employees purposes
only.Most prospective and employers check these sites to see what
their employees are writing or up to! No one wants to read that they're
going to "hit up" their boss for a raise, or that they dislike a
fellow coworker or matter of fact their job.
Now this brings me to networking you have to start networking it is
crucial. This market is starting to change, starting to slow and you
need to be ahead of the curve. Looking for events going on in
different cities that you want to work in,go to local art shows,and
local community events to ensure you meet the right people.I
interviewed a gentleman in Los Angeles awhile back he said he didn't
have time to network or go to social events to land him a job,and even
with the market slowing down you have to able to get your next gig.
And then he started marketing himself AFTER gigs had ended and slots
were filled. Projects were planned and staffed. He found himself on
the outside looking in,don't let this happen to you. You should always
make time even if you feel you don't have the time to network,it will
pay off in some way,shape or form.Here are some important key things
when making connections within a networking event or community.Never
forget the old adage about putting all your eggs in one basket. Where
networking is concerned, quantity is everything, so make sure that you
just keep adding as many new contacts to your list as possible. Never
provide your fellow networkers with any information.Remember,
information is power, and you don’t want to be giving all of yours
Never be sociable with your networking contacts.Don’t meet with
them for drinks, meals or social occasions or otherwise mix business
with pleasure.You will only be running the risk of them thinking of
you as a friend - and you don’t need any more friends,right? Never
offer advice or support to your contacts.They might be going through a
rough time and need help, but if you are there for them, how are they
ever going to learn to stand on their own two feet? Never demonstrate
your expertise – doing so is only likely to make your fellow
networkers feel insecure about all the stuff they don’t know.Besides,
you could be running the risk of them pumping you for information
which they then use to their own advantage.I believe networking to be
wonderful and exciting and a great social link don't get me wrong,but
it's ultimately about you and getting you where you want to be,not
Don’t bother about keeping your contacts updated on
your job search.It will just take away valuable time from your job
search efforts.Save your contact until you really need something from
Love ya all!
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Mark was very willing to sit down with me for a bit and give advice to this blog and that was so awesome! Even though his advice is a bit ‘designer specific‘ I know that anyone can gain something from his unique point of view.
Most importantly, show eagerness. No one likes to interview a boring, flat individual. Be excited to be there are let that excitement shine.
Go on as many interviews as you can, even if they are not directly related to your field. The more interviews you perform, the better you will get at “the game” and the more you can predict the next steps in the process of finding a job. Even if the interview doesn’t go well, you will understand how to better communicate you skills and talents for the next time. As Mark says “you have to strike out before you can succeed”.
Mark also says, be weird and let your personality quarks show. Employers want to see that what you do for a living is an extension of yourself. On a designer specific note, employers expect you to be a bit off. A boring person = a boring designer.
To be more specific, these personality quarks should be related to your field. For example, Mark will straighten crooked picture frames because as a designer, that bothers him. This quark, in turn, works to his advantage because it expresses that design is a part of him.
What’s one thing you know now that you wish you knew as an entry? “It’s not a short trip, but a long journey. Do this because you love it!” Mark expressed to me. We all need to remember that finding a job, for most of us, is not an ‘instant thing’. It is indeed a process.
Doing little things to the resume to show off your personality is a great way to make it stand out among the pile. This could be as simple as a signature font, or a quote at the top of the page that expresses who you are. Be sure to keep the ‘traditional'; resume as a base and stem from that.
Mark stressed the importance of knowing when to draw the line with free work. There is a fine line between showing your interest and being taken advantage of. Finding this line comes from common sense and practice.