Archive for the ‘Getting Into the Biz’ Category

mortarboard_blkHello, about-to-graduate future branding person. Whether you’re hoping to be a creative, an account manager, an interactive type, or a strategist, here are some tips on how to launch your career and get your first job.

I’m telling you all this because other people told me when I needed to know, and I firmly believe in passing it on. Also because I want the best and the brightest to think of ID Branding with some fondness. (Fondness never hurts.)

First, you need to decide where you want to work – specifically, which kind of place . And there are only two. (more…)


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If I could help the world today in one way (besides solving the economic crisis), it would be to reach out to every one of you who is looking for a job – putting yourself out there to be screened and judged – and give you advice. I’ve been there and it’s tough to sell yourself again and again. I’m certain I applied for positions where I hoped the recruiter could see my potential even though I wasn’t really qualified. I shudder when I recall it.

I am constantly amazed by how candidates present themselves. I often think, “maybe you’re just throwing another resume out there so you can tell the unemployment office you made a contact.” Because if that’s not it, you need more advice than I thought.

PART 1. Pre-Interview stage.

Don’t make me work hard, I don’t even know you.

You have one chance to make a first impression so don’t blow it at the get-go.

I receive resumes that say they saw our posting on Craig’s List but don’t reference the job title. That’s great – which one? We have several posted. Now I can either just discard your email at this point, or I can open your attached resume and try to figure it out. I could go either way depending on the day. Or you give the position a title that isn’t what we posted. A little respect, please.

Know the company.

If you haven’t looked at our web site, and you think we offer PR services then you didn’t do your homework. Round file, right now.

Tell the truth.

Absolutely, never lie on a resume – not even one iota. Don’t embellish your previous responsibilities or worse yet lie about your education. But that’s not what I want to address here. Be truthful in things like this: If your email says, “let me briefly describe…” then be brief. If you filled up two computer screens to tell me what your cover letter already says, then you lied to me. You won’t make the cut.

The devil is in the details.

We always look for new staff members who can demonstrate that details are important. So if you say, “attached is my cover letter and resume” and you sent me two cover letters instead, I’m probably not going to think you’re right for the job. (Worse yet, I received two cover letters from a candidate, one that addressed our agency and one for another agency, with exactly the same passionate plea – “You’re the only agency I want to work for.” Take the time to customize your resume for the position (I didn’t say “lie”). If your stated objective on your resume says you want to be a designer and you’re applying for an AE position, then we’re not going to consider you.

Bring something to the table.

Employers want candidates to bring skills and experience to the position. If you tell me you want to work at ID Branding so we can teach you everything, then you’re missing the point. If you were hired you would definitely learn, but you won’t be hired unless you can demonstate the value you’d be bringing to us.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

I look for someone who is on a path. It tells me they have a passion and a focus for whatever career they’re in. If you were a priest who got disenchanted, then dabbled in event management, then worked in a call center, you don’t have focus. It may not be too late, so pick a field, stick with it, and don’t be shy to take an entry-level position to get your foot in the door. Many companies like to promote from within (we do).

Accept advice.

I can’t think of anyone who gives advice for anything other than to be helpful. (Ok, except maybe your aunt Edna who told you recently you ought to lose a few lb’s). So if a recruiter takes the time to give you feedback, be appreciative and take it to heart. Hmmm, I never heard back from the priest.

Maybe in some small way I can help the economic crisis if I can help you put your best foot forward as a candidate – here, or elsewhere in the world.

— Diane

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Hey, there, young person trying to get into this business. Maybe you just graduated from college, or from a portfolio program. Or maybe you just moved to town.

Please know that I’m speaking to you with the greatest compassion and affection possible. This is for your own good, OK?

When you send me (or my agency) an email or letter that opens with “To Whom It May Concern” you are actually saying to me “I am a total lame-o hack loser.”

You’ve just flunked your first real assignment. You’re supposed to create personal, intimate communications that feel like one-on-one conversations with your audience. Nice job.

You’re also saying you are so uninterested in me and my company that you didn’t bother to find out what my name is and how to reach me. And you think I’m tree-trunk stupid because you followed that general salutation with the line, “I recently came across samples of your companies work online and was both inspired and intrigued by what was presented.”

Like I believe you for a second. That’s a real quote, by the way, typo and all. It came immediately after “To Whom It May Concern.” Guess what. I didn’t read another word. I usually don’t even read that far when I see a general, versus a personalized, greeting. You don’t care? I don’t care. See ya.

What can you do? You can do what I always recommend to people just graduating. Identify the places where you might want to work, figure out who the right person is to talk to, dig up some of the work you love that they’ve been involved with, and write a personal and honest letter or email to that person about that work. And tell that person why you’d like to work in their particular agency. And then ask for an informational interview or portfolio review.

We’re all suckers for people who take the time to learn about the stuff we’re doing because we’re way too personally invested in it and we want others to be just as excited about it as we are. And we’re almost all interested in helping people just getting into the business. After all, someone helped us. Maybe a bunch of different people helped us. We owe. And you just might win the payback of attention, help, and advice.

But come on, you’ve got to earn that attention.

– Doug

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