Friday, August 14, 2009

Let's get HOOKed! (bad pun)

Hello Everyone,

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


1 comment:

  1. This is great advice all around. Something I've learned about knowing the right time to follow up (#3 above) is to ask. If you get the interview, on your way out, ask what their timeline is for filling the position. Based on their response, if they want to fill the job 'right away' (which generally means with enough time for the hired candidate to submit a proper notice at his/her current job), give them 5-7 business days, and call. Don't email. Emailing is too impersonal and it's a mistake that many of our generation (the 'millenials' I guess is what we're called) make. Don't waste a chance to let them get to know you better.

    And as far as online job posts, I wouldn't recommend making it your primary or even secondary source of potential jobs. But still use it. You never know... both my brother and I got our current jobs through Yahoo Hot Jobs and Monster, respectively. But we were among the very first to apply for the job once it was posted. With online job boards, you have to practically pounce on it to even get considered, otherwise your resume will just become one among dozens.