Craig Wilson

How to get a job in advertising, design or media industries

I receive on average 4 to 5 job applications per week, every week of the year. 90% come via email. About 70% are actually addressed to me (rather than Dear Sir/Madam). Over 90% seem to be carbon copies of the same resume format, with the same information / qualifications. 99.5% get placed in an email file for future reference. Funny thing is, despite having a growing agency and hiring numerous staff over the last few years only one of these people has even gotten an interview. Why? Two reasons I can think of:

(This post first ran on my blog back in February 2009. It became one of most popular posts ever on the site. I have re-jigged it slightly for Digital Ministry)

I receive on average 4 to 5 job applications per week, every week of the year.

  • 90% come via email.
  • About 70% are actually addressed to me (rather than Dear Sir/Madam).
  • Over 90% seem to be carbon copies of the same resume format, with the same information / qualifications.
  • 99.5% get placed in an email file for future reference.

Funny thing is, despite having a growing agency and hiring numerous staff over the last few years…only one of these people has even gotten an interview.

Why?

Two reasons I can think of….

 

1. If you are trying to get a job in an industry that is all about creating sales and awareness for clients through the implementation of creative and strategic thinking, surely you must be able to market yourself well first. Sending the same old boring resume via the same delivery method as your “competitors” doesn’t cut the mustard. It shows little creative or strategic thought and it doesn’t stand out in a cluttered “media channel” (ie. my email inbox). And you want to get into marketing????

2. I’m not really interested in your resume. I’m interested in interesting people. I’m interested in what you think, in your ideas, in your enthusiasm. I can’t really see that in a resume.

Of my current team, there is only one person who I didn’t know at all prior to joining us. The rest I had met before. They either worked in the industry, were suppliers or potential customers. Three of them joined us after I invited them. I had gotten to know and respect them and thought they’d be a good fit for the agency.

So, does this mean all aspiring ad-execs and creatives should just give up now?

Not all. Just change the approach.

If I was trying to get a job in media or marketing here’s what I’d do:

1. Do some research. Find out plenty about the company. Find out what sort of work they’re doing and where they seem to be heading. In our case, we are pursuing a strong digital agenda and we are heavy users of social media and social networks.

2. Determine the people you need to get to know and introduce yourself (without asking for a job) via the best delivery channel (not the easiest or laziest). For example, we blog a lot and spend a lot of time on Twitter. Making comments on a few of our blog posts and following us on Twitter would quickly put someone on our radar.

3. Begin impressing the right people with your ideas, witty repartee and enthusiasm. Sparking up a conversation on Twitter is easy. Don’t rush in for the kill though, take your time so your target can get to know you. If you have your own blog site you would be able to slowly introduce people in the industry to your work, your thoughts, your creativity, your insight……you. Back in 2006 Gavin Heaton wrote that Blogs are the new CV. Its even more relevant now.

4. Keep your finger on the pulse. Follow the agency’s progress, announcements and hiring cycles. When the time is right, you will be able to raise your hand and ask or apply. You will have a much better chance of getting the interview and the job if the people hiring already know you in some way.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice rather than for a job. As I said at the beginning, I receive a lot of unsolicited resumes. The majority send one email then I never hear from them again. Its clearly a low percentage strategy. A better approach would be to ask a potential employer for advice. “Hi, I am looking to break into the industry, I was wondering if you could help? Do you know anyone who might be looking for….. Or, how should I…..” etc. Once again, if you have already established some sort of relationship with the person you will get even greater returns.

Right now I can look around the Australian blogosphere, or my Twitter list, and see many up and coming industry stars. These people are on my radar and, I am sure, the radars of many agencies. When the time is right they will likely stroll into the jobs of their choice. Or when they choose to change jobs, they will already have made the connections. They won’t need to send an email resume to introduce themselves.

If you’re reading this, then you probably already know this. But if you have friends looking to break into the industry then maybe you should let them know.

 


COMMENTS

Posted by Caroline Whitehorn-Parisy, 23 November 2009

While recruiting for the digital & media industry, I would never read a CV without a cover letter.

What perception of yourself would you like to give? An icon for your fellow experts, a model to the industry, hard-worker, fast-learner, or simply the most enthusiastic applicant, maybe a little pedantic, in other words, your cover letter should be a shrine to yourself. However, remain honest, there’s a limit to the level of exaggeration you may put on your qualities, employers will always question “your greatness” at the interview stage.

And be creative! But do not feel like you have to be witty or possess a very peculiar sense of humour when writing a creative cover letter. In employment terms, creativity is about intriguing the reader’s attention on your personal behaviors, making it unforgettable but not the biggest joke in job seeking history. A little extravagance (or shall I say arrogance and originality - show off!) could definitely make you stand up from the crowd of applicants in the arts and media industry. Think design. You may present your letter under the form of a press release if applying for a copywriter job, a web page if applying for a web designer job or even a Google search results page if applying for an online marketing role.

Posted by Craig Wilson, 24 November 2009

Caroline, my real point is to use social networks as your cover letter.


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Craig is managing director of Sticky, a digitally-focused agency based in Newcastle, Australia. Sticky helps corporate marketers implement INBOUND MARKETING strategies to get found online, attract new prospects and turn traffic into sales. This includes SEO, social media and conversion strategies Read Craig's full bio

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