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How to land your first job in advertising

Ruth Hartnoll   —   29 March 2017   —   Creative & Design

How to land your first job in advertising

To land your first job in advertising, the rules are very similar to creating great adverts.

  1. Question the brief.
  2. Grab attention.
  3. Research.
  4. Know your audience.
  5. Ask more than once.

We’re going to take you through each step and offer practical advice that will help you get noticed. Get your macchiato ready and get comfortable.

1. Question the brief

“Talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among nonconformists, dissenters, and rebels.”

David Ogilvy

Any good creative worth their salt will always question the brief given to them. Look at the job description of the role you’re going for.

Is it right for you?

Don’t go for a Copywriting role if you hate reading. Don’t go for an Account Manager role if you can’t stand talking to people. The job you choose to go after in an agency will determine how successful and happy you are.

To make sure you’re going after the right job for you, ask yourself:

  1. Do the requirements for the role match my personality?
  2. Do I care enough about the work to do it five days a week?
  3. Is the agency a good match for me? Does their culture suit me?
  4. Will I be able to prove I can deliver what the employer wants?

By asking yourself these questions you’ll be better prepared on every level.

2. Grab attention

You’ve decided the company is the right fit for you, now you need to get their attention. Let’s take a lesson from Burt on this one:

“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”

- Burt Bernbach, founder DDB.

Don’t bombard companies with your CV. Don’t send out emails. Take time and think: what will make the person receiving this care? Your CV is your first introduction to an employer. Take time with it. If you think your message is being delivered in a samey samey format, change the medium you’re working in.

Like this guy -

Doughnut resume

Does a doughnut catch your attention more than an email? Yes. Find the difference and create stand out. If the doughnut route seems a little expensive for your tastes then there are simpler approaches.

Top tips to create CV stand out -

  • Don’t just write your CV, design it. Use free sites like Canva to create something memorable.
  • Think about delivery. Is there another way to deliver your message? Hand delivery? Via post? (Think about how excited you get about getting mail) Drone? Singing telegram?
  • Avoid cliches. No ‘people person’. No ‘gives 110%’. You’re better than that.

Always take the time to find out who will be reading your CV. This can be a tough one as it’s not always immediately clear who will be on the receiving end. A simple phone call will help -  say which role you’re applying for and who you should address your covering letter to. It’s a simple question and one that doesn’t take up too much time for either party.

3. Research

Library research

“Research is formalised curiosity. It is poking and prying with purpose.” - Zora Neale Hurston

The curious do well in advertising. Research plays a key role in the industry. From focus groups, to pre-meeting research, to creative inspiration, research plays a key role in winning, retaining and inspiring clients. And it’s vital you carry out research when looking for a job in advertising.

Even before interview stage you need to find out about the company you might be working for. Your covering letter will show you’ve taken the time to personalise it to them or not. Mention something specific about them; a recent win, an article on their site, some recent work of theirs. Remember: you need to create stand out.

Also carry out industry research - your potential employer doesn’t live in a vacuum. What’s being discussed in wider conversation within the industry?

Here’s a cheat sheet -

4. Know your audience

Crowd of people

Once you’ve researched your audience it’s important to know what to do with that information next. Knowing your audience comes from good research. By knowing your audience you’re able to adapt style, tone of voice, medium of execution and other factors to ensure your message is heard most effectively.

If you’re applying for a job in a creatively-biased agency then you’ll need to prove your creativity in a real way. Find out what your potential creative director is influenced by; visit their behance, Pinterest, Twitter - anything that gives clues to their tastes. If you’re trying to impress an MD research their interests too - anything that shows a level of care (that doesn’t come across as stalkery).

5. Ask more than once

"Ask more questions"

Don’t think the conversation stops at an email/ doughnut delivery/ song and dance number. For your message to be heard you need to say it more than once. Communication lives across many mediums; social posts, billboards, experiences, emails - so be sure to follow up your request (appropriately) more than once. Chasing a response shows you care - just don’t over do it. No 3am emails demanding a meeting, just scheduled follow ups at one and two weeks. If there’s no response after three times, then yes, they’re probably not interested.

You might even be asking for the wrong thing. Perhaps you applied for an Account Management role, but you’re actually better suited to an Account Executive role. Know that if this is your first job in the industry you will need to start at entry level and work up. You need to prove yourself and that you can deliver, and then you can request for a review once you’ve got the job.

Take a look at the roles on offer with Access

We’re currently hiring for multiple roles. Put our advice into practice.

Account Manager

Digital Project Manager

Junior Web Developer

Data Analyst

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