You’d think in an era of social networking, it would be easier to find a job. But I meet young people all the time struggling to find where they fit in and how to get their foot in the door. And I remember those days at the University of Notre Dame, when I decided I wanted to be a copywriter, searching through the Agency Red Book, trying to get internships, mailing clever things to agencies to get their attention. So here are 10 helpful tips that I have to pass on to aspiring agency creatives.
- Be creative. If you want a job in creative, do not follow a so-called professional resume format. I have seen resumes on paper napkins and on video. Be different if you want to break through.
- Study award-winning campaigns. Get award books like the One Show and Communication Arts Advertising Annuals. While you can find great award-winning creative online at places like Ads of the World, I think buying old versions of these books on Amazon.com is a great thing to have, to understand what makes a campaign and what makes it great.
- Learn the business. Seek opportunities (in class and out) to learn the business and add to your portfolio. Invent clients, do spec or do real ads for families and friends. The best way to get hired is to have a great book!
- Intern. Intern. Intern. I had two internships before I landed a full-time job. So pursue internships whether free or paid—but only at places where you like the work they do and know you can learn from their talent. Agencies like to try before they buy. An internship at your dream agency could lead to a better future than one at a mediocre one.
- Choose wisely. Big agencies are a great place to start as they hire more people more often. But at a mid-size shop like ours an intern could do web ads, social media, radio and get a shot at TV. Think about what fits you and your career goals.
- Brand yourself. Make your own brand speak uniquely through your website, business card, resume and guerilla. And be consistent with that unique quality that differentiates you from the pool of other aspiring creative. I have sent funny things to agencies over the years to get noticed. Attach a web video to your resume. Or try snail mail because in the digital world it’s a better way to break through and be noticed.
- Understand it’s not about you. It’s about what you can do for an agency. So research different agencies online and through the Agency Red Book at the library so you can talk intelligently at interviews and show them how you could move their business forward.
- Be patient and persistent. Understand Creative Directors and Creative Recruiters are busy. If they don’t get back to you, it’s most likely because it’s not a priority to them at that time. Find the Associate Creative Director or a Senior Copywriter or Art Director to glean info from. Any connection that can give you insight. Name drop their name (“So and so said to call you”) to get you to that next level. Stay visible so when they do need to hire, you make the list.
- Network. Join ad clubs. Freelance for local chambers of commerce. Friend people you admire on LinkedIn. Blog. Vlog. Increase your SEO. No contact is ever wasted.
- Stay positive! It takes time to get with the agencies you really admire but persistence eventually will pay off.
Those are the real secrets to getting a job in advertising as a creative. Take it from me, the school of life is more educating than even the best universities. Let me know if this helps. Or if there are any other tips that a young creative should try. Best of luck to you!