Mailbag: Second Job Hunting Tips

Q: You have lots of good advice for juniors; any advice for mid-level creatives? People always focus on getting your first job, but what about preparing for your second? - Cameron, copywriter

A: So true. But honestly, it's pretty much the same, but a bit easier - partially because you're more aware of what you like and what you're good at, and less of a risk to potential employers because clearly you can't be a full idiot if someone else hired you.
* Talk To Yourself. First off, look at what you want next in your career. Where do you want to work and what do you want to work on? A new job isn't a magic pill to fix all your problems. You don't want to jump from frying pan to fire to boiling cauldron of lava and cayenne. So really take some time to think about why you want to leave this current job and what you're looking for our of your new job and where and how your needs can be met. And really take some time to think about what you need to change to be a better creative and employee as well.
Check yo'self before you wreck yo'self. (This sounds so awkward coming from me but I'm leaving it. Deal with it. *b-boy stance*)

* Update your portfolio and resume. Feature your best work. And only work you had a large contribution to. (Being in the room when it was presented or doing a resize for a banner doesn't count.)

* Use Your Connections. Talk to everyone you know who is at an agency you'd like to work at. Ask if they're looking and if so, if they can e-intro you to the creative recruiter or their CD. Even if they're not looking, ask to be introduced.

* Call in the Reinforcements. Reach out to 2 - 3 headhunters. Be clear on where you are and where you'd like to be in your career. The more honest you are, the more they can help. Also, make sure to let them know which agencies you've sent your work to on your own or through other folks so there is no overlap.

* Utilize All Resources. Contact creative staffing firms and see what they have. They usually send emails that fit your needs and there are sometimes little gems in there - especially freelance work.

* Search Your Networks. Look on LinkedIn, TalentZoo, mediabistro etc and see what's posted. Check out agencycompile, AdAge, AdWeek and other ad trades and blogs to see who is hiring, firing,winning and losing accounts. New business win = hiring, so go where there is water. 

* Don't Be Shy. Email people at places you want to work even if you don't have a contact there and wow them with your wit and skills and kick ass portfolio. Check out these email tips.

* Give It A Test Drive. Freelance if you can so you can get a feel for a place and they can get a feel for. There's nothing wrong with testing the milk before you buy the cow. (Is that how the saying goes? I'm not into cows nor milk so I'm not sure. I should've stuck with the driving analogy but I'm even worse with that...)

* Know Your Worth. Research salaries (ask your colleagues or try Glassdoor, Payscale or salary) to see what someone with your experience gets and think realistically about your needs then set a salary range that you can live with.

* Never Turn Anything Down. If they're interested and want to meet, follow through even if you're not sure. Think of it as practice. You never know who you could meet, what you could learn, or where something can lead.

* Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You. If you're still employed while you're looking, be sure to still give your all to work.

* Manage Your Expectations. Just because they reply to your email doesn't mean they'll interview you. Just because they interview you, doesn't mean they'll offer you a job. Just because they offer you a job, doesn't mean you should accept it. Weigh all your options and make sure you're making the best move for you and not just making a move because you're ready to move.
* Give It Time. Sometimes it can take 3 - 6 months to find the right thing. Patience is a virtue. (I'm never too sure what this saying is really saying, but at least I know I got this one right.)

Happy Hunting!