Looking For Your First Advertising Gig? Here Are Some Helpful Tips.

Job Safari 2

I recently received a note from a fellow named Alex Harvilla who started a nice blog called The Job Safari. As Alex hunts for his first job as a junior account planner or strategist, he set out on a four city tour to learn any insights he can on what it takes to land your first job – and he’s sharing those insights with the rest of the folks who are in his same shoes. A nice thing to do.

Here are the tips I shared with Alex:

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.


~ by hookusa on August 14, 2009.

One Response to “Looking For Your First Advertising Gig? Here Are Some Helpful Tips.”

  1. Ahha – so I CAN put those old truck tires to use!!

    great tips

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