Winning a coveted creative position is a game of chess, not checkers.
Ah, the job search. At some point, we’ve all put in an application, sent a resume, or sweated it out in a lobby before interviewing for a dreamy gig.
While always nerve-wracking and slightly maddening, the creatively-inclined face a unique and more complex process when seeking placement at an agency or brand.
Mastering the subtle art of marketing yourself in a digital world, while also making sure your portfolio and website are up-to-date, is vital in standing out among a sea of other creatives vying for the same role. No pressure.
Here's our best advice: Before you get into the nitty-gritty of advertising yourself as an ultra-employable creative that any agency or brand would be lucky to have, make sure you’ve covered the basics. This means have an updated resume and a portfolio site (reader: pay your hosting fees – nothing screams Super-Green-Unprofessional-Amateur like a GoDaddy expiration page) with your best work featured. And if you’re a designer, it goes without saying that there should be some visually intriguing aspect to your resume (but we’ll say it anyway). Think of it as an audition for the interview – a unique and well-designed resume showing creativity, spunk, and personality is more likely to get you in the door than a MS Word template used by your uncle when he applied to his accounting firm 15 years ago (no offense to uncles or accounting).
Similarly, a well-written cover letter is a must for anyone who intends to work with words on a daily basis. Copywriters, editors, content creators, et al should show off their ability to turn a phrase and use the cover letter as a sneak peek into how talented a wordsmith they’re tangling with.
Employers are looking for you, you’re looking for them, and it’s likely you’ll have your meet-cute on the World Wide Web. Absorb and harness all that digital power to your advantage!
LinkedIn is a great platform to not only market your skills and look through hundreds of job postings, but to make connections and network without having to leave your house (working remote is all the rage these days anyway). There are profile sections for notable publications, volunteer work, and you can even upload media. Most job applications will ask for two things: your portfolio site and your LinkedIn URL, so make sure to have both.
While LinkedIn may be known as the “professional” social platform, don’t discount the rest. Many modern employers also want to see your personal social media accounts before they schedule an interview – especially if you’re seeking a role on a content team or as a social media manager. It’s a great way to get to know a candidate’s personality, as well as to ascertain whether you’ll be a good culture fit.
But it’s not just prospective employers that should be doing the research – definitely follow, like, subscribe, and engage with any brand or agency you’re hoping to impress. Not only will your name jog their memory when they come across your materials, but a working knowledge of their brand, clients, and style of work will set you ahead of those who didn’t think to do their homework first.
So you shined and polished your materials, have engaged with your dream agency, and now they want to meet you – congrats!
While it may seem like this is the most important part of the entire process, try to remember the interview is only one facet of a larger, multi-step journey.
If you feel anxious, take heart – nerves keep you on your toes, prepared, and alert. It also shows you care, something every employer wants from their workforce. When it comes down to the question-and-answer, be yourself and don’t be embarrassed to admit you’re nervous -- humility is a good thing! Oh, and if they offer you a water, accept it. Dry mouth is a confidence killer and it’ll cool you down if you get a little hot under the collar in high-pressure situations.
Once you’ve had your interview, there’s nothing left to do but send a thank you to the people you met with, and wait. An appreciative email (within 24 hours of the interview) will certainly suffice, but if you really feel like making your mark, a snail-mailed thank you card can be a nice touch that displays the extra effort you’re willing to make for your dream company. Regardless of what happens, keep in mind that job searching is often a long con, the culmination of weeks or months of vetting and relationship-building, and if you don’t get the job, oftentimes it’s not you, it’s them. The real secret to successfully matching with an employer is staying positive and hungry, determined and eager to learn.