Starving Creatives: $ Issues

Love should be the reason you become a creative. But the creative pay check will break your heart for the first year or three. (That jerk) 

Here's another Friday Reality Check be prepared to work banker or lawyer hours for receptionist pay.

The ad industry pretty much hazes you. You have to invest a lot upfront to prove you want to be here and show you have what it takes to stay here.

Get ready for the paddle, kids!

Portfolio school costs upwards of $30,000 a year. That's on top of whatever you may have paid for undergrad. (Most offer financial aid and there are some scholarships available so don't sweat yet.)

Your first job starts you off from about $35,000 - 55,000. Taxes, benefits and 401k eat a chunk of that and then you're left with the costs of housing, food, car and general living. Oh and repaying those ridiculous student loans. (Sweat now.)

I wish they had a class about how to budget and manage money post-graduation. So many of us ran wildly into the open air with our portfolios, lofty ideas and our love for Advertising. And crashed when we saw the salary situation for most juniors.

You shouldn't have to sink in debt following you dream. This post is my attempt to tell you what I wish I knew then. And I really wish I knew enough about the money/finances to really set you right. (Me and words are like this *twists fingers together* But numbers... we had a big spat back in 97 and things haven't been the same since. Rassingfrassing logarithms.) 

I asked a financially savvy friend of mine for money tips for entry level folks so I'll post those soon. (Unless it's a yawnfest, in which case I'll post a picture of a kitten fighting a dog instead.)

In the meantime, here are some Creative Wannabe Financial-ish Tips from my experience:

* Call your student loan providers and try to work something out. If you're not working or you don't make enough you may be able to apply for economic hardship or work out some plan. Don't ever miss payments. It'll bite you in the ass later.

* Look at the cost of living in the state/ city you want to work. For instance, it's cheaper to live in ATL than NYC. Consider starting somewhere close to home, saving and getting more experience and then moving. Try this COL calculator. Or this one.

* If the job offer is too little to meet your needs, try to negotiate to get more $ (I should probably post on this too. Sigh. Y'all are so needy.) or figure out how to make it work if it's a totally awesome opportunity. Some agencies low ball you because they know 20 other people are thirsty for the same position. Look at the experience and growth you'll gain and see if it will balance out all the oatmeal you'll have to eat. Once you're in, you're in, and your next job will treat your budget with more respect.

* If you're freelancing, save all your work related receipts (food, transport, etc) for your tax returns.

* If you're freelancing, take on more work, no matter how small or uncreative, to build a padding. You never know when your next big job may come.

* Rent realistically. The best advice I can ever give you is to live within your means. You can move on to the East Side (to a deluxe apartment in the sky) later. (If you didn't automatically start singing the theme song to The Jeffersons you should quit life.)

* Couch surf. When I first moved to NY I had 2 suitcases, a short-term freelance project and big dreams. Fortunately I also had amazing friends. I slept on 3 different couches over the next few months until I got steady freelance and  saved up enough to get my own place. So use your friends, family and classmates to help you get off your feet. (Yet another reason not to be an asshole.)

* Be creatively frugal (aka cheap). Take advantage of everything that's free or on sale from movies to Groupons to food leftover from meetings. 

* Allow yourself an allowance. Look at where you can sacrifice so you can splurge. Do you spend most of your $ on food? Drinking? Clothes? Travel? Set aside a part of your budget specifically for that and only use that money for that thing. When it's out it's out. I stop shopping and partying so I can save for a big trip - I'd rather have an experience than an item (or a hangover) so I spend most of my play money on Kayak and Travelzoo.

* Save. Always put aside something from every paycheck. Open a high-yielding savings account and have it automatically take $ out of your account on the 2nd and he 16th. Even if it's only $25. You'll thank me later.

* Be patient. The money will come. Right now focus on getting work for your book, learning the ropes and making contacts.

That's all I got.

Go make some amazing things for your book and win an award or two and be completely, undeniably awesome, Then you won't have to worry when it comes time to getting offers.They will be plentiful and generous.

Get to work!

Why Should Someone Hire You?

--> -->
If you stuttered on your response, go sit on a bench. 

I'm forever asking questions on here, let's take a moment and look them all together. 

Is your portfolio ready? And is it good? (read: portfolio breakdown and breaking in)
What are you good at? (read: what's so special about you?)
What do you bring to the table? (read: be an asset)
What are you an expert at? (read: be an expert)
How do you stand out? (read: managing your personal brand)
What do you want? (read: get what you want)
Are you thirsty? (read: ready to work and Creative Wannabe Commandments)
How can you package all this and show someone else that you're worthy of hiring?

* Come up with an elevator speech. If you were on an elevator with a creative director going from the 5th floor to the 8th, what would you say to get him/her interested in talking to you more later? Come up with a quick 3-5 sentence spiel that encompasses everything about you and gives someone a feel for who you are, what you offer and what you're looking for.

* Promote yourself. How are you getting your name out there? How are you differentiating yourself? Who are you talking to? Who is talking about you? What are they saying? How are you directing this discussion? Do you have a blog, podcast, twitter, outlet to show your skills and personality? Like I said in Tuesday's post, if you can sell yourself, you can sell anything.

* Make Connections. Go to industry events. Set up coffee dates and informational interviews. Email folks and say "I love your work, you're amazing, how can I be like you?" Ask people you know to introduce you to more people. Reach out to as many people as possible. Ask them for feedback. Stroke their egosG get to know them and more importantly, let them get to know you. It's good to have friends on the inside.

* Know your strengths. Why are you awesome? Why are you awesomer than the next guy?

* Know your weaknesses. When you’re talking to someone you want to hire you, beat them to the punch. Mention your “weakness” and present a solution, say you're working on it or show how it could possibly be a benefit. "I may not best headline writer, but I keep practicing every day and would love to find a mentor to help me get better. But I can write the hell out of a long copy piece and move people to tears with some kickass storytelling." 

* Know how to work. Just because you don't have to wear a tie doesn't mean you're not a professional. Experience counts: Intern. Freelance. Shadow someone. Work in a non-advertising office. Knowing how a business is run gives you a bit of an edge because whether or not you're in a law firm in a three-piece suit or a creative agency in chucks and 40 tattoos, you're going to have to do time sheets, go to meetings, shake hands and all that other officey stuff.

* Look at the whole. How does your past, present, future, hobbies, etc all work together to build an amazing brand? Where you're from, what you've done, what you love, what you're good at, what you're not good at, what you want to do, what you do on the side, who you know, your random hobbies, that story about the time you were stuck in Mexico... How do all those things work to make you a better creative and a more attractive employee?

* Be what you say you are. Sounds simple, but is it? Remember that product/restaurant/hotel/car/whatever that advertised themselves as being amazing/luxury/epic and all that good stuff - and then you tried it and it was cheap/disgusting/disappointing. Yeah... Don't be that guy. Make sure your spiel, portfolio, final product and attitude match up.

* Speaking of attitude - Be humble. Nobody likes an asshole.

Article: How to Get Your 1st Job

Came across this gem and thought you'd like to read. (Also reinforces that I'm not just making up stuff and that you, my dear, are not alone.) I bolded the parts I thought were especially great.

Three Ways To Get Your First Job in Advertising
From The Atlanta Egoist
Author Matt Ingwalson

"I want to get into the creative side of the advertising business, but don't have a clue what to do. Help."

I have heard some variation of this question least four dozen times. My answer has become so pat it is more like a speech.

Here it is:

"The calculation is simple. Great personality plus great book equals job. But I feel your pain. You can't get a job without a book and you can't start on your book without a job. You're stuck in a chicken versus egg scenario. What are you going to do?

First, look around you. Every single designer, art director and copywriter you see has found a way to break out of the loop. So take heart. It can be done.

There are all sorts of ways to make it happen. Be lucky. Have the right parents. Be named David Droga. But in general, I've seen three successful, repeatable strategies that anyone can use. And here they are:

First, try to get a job as an account coordinator. That's not to say that being an account coordinator is any easier than being a junior creative. It's not. At all. But the financial barrier to entry is lower. Ten bucks to print resumes versus several hundred dollars to shoot spec ads, buy layout software, and assemble a book. If you can land a job on the account side, you'll be able to spend a couple years learning how to work hard, speak intelligently and sell great advertising. And you'll be in an environment where you can get ahold of briefs, printers, software and most importantly, mentorship. Work on your book at night and on weekends. After a couple years, you can have a surprise epiphany. "I want to be a creative!" And you'll have the tools and the personal network you need to make that happen.

Second, you could go to ad school. The real benefit of Creative Circus (Editors note: or Portfolio Center) or Miami Ad School isn't only a great portfolio. It's access to a giant network of working professionals all over the world. This is a foolproof method. It is also time-consuming and expensive.

The third strategy is the cheapest and fastest, but also the most bruising. It requires you to be fearless and persistent. Take your crappy samples and show them to everyone you can. Even people who you feel might be more junior or less talented than you. Explain that you do not expect a job, just some advice. You will get lots of conflicting comments and you will hear things that hurt your feelings. Don't let it get to you. Instead, go away and work to make everything better. Try new colors, new layouts, new headlines, new media, new everything. You must demonstrate that you are taking the advice you are getting seriously. Within two months, come back to everyone (yes, everyone) and ask to show your book again. Then ask them if there is anyone else they know who would be willing to give you even more advice. Repeat this process. A lot. With each round of showings, your book should get 25% better and your circle of contacts 50% wider. Eventually, you will be in the right place at the right time."

People in advertising have almost infinite patience for passionate, hardworking, humble young creatives. But they won't waste time on anyone who comes off as lazy, helpless, or full of themselves.

So work hard and don't be a jerk. That's my advice.

Check out these related posts Your Portfolio,  
Portfolio School, Fool
What exactly do you mean by "portfolio"?
Interview with creatives who didn't go to portfolio school
Interview with creatives who did 
How to Switch Into Advertising
Must Read: Breaking In Book

Inspiration: Design posters

Posters I found while perusing the world wide web.

Do you love them? Do you hate them? Why? 

Look at everything as a chance for you to become better. 

Mimic the things you like. 
Avoid the things you dislike. 
Then go create something new. 

Article: Creative Job Hunting

Creative is as creative does.

Here are some creative ways people promoted themselves and landed a job in Advertising.

How can you step out from the crowd and get noticed?

5 Clever Ways to Get a Job Using Social Media

                       #5: Turn yourself into an ad

6 Wickedly Creative Job Applications for the Digital Age
#6: Create a game

6 Weirdest Ways to Get a Job in Advertising
#2: Display yourself as a nude centerfold

If you can effectively sell yourself, you can sell anything.

Get to work.

Also read: How to manage your personal brand

Back2Work: Be an asset

First you have be an expert and now you have to be an asset, too? *wipes sweat*

Yep. When you get to work you'll see that it's a big ole table. And some people have their reputations, their egos and their awards taking up a whole lot of space on it. And some people are just there because they're friends with someone else. So you need to come with a whole lot to even be seen.

The good part is, being an asset doesn't necessarily require too much extra work. Make it part of your daily routine - your general modus operandi.

It's all about being ready, willing and able.

When something needs to be done, volunteer to do it. Especially if it's something that no one else really wants to do. Like looking for images or resizing banners or writing text links or newspaper headlines.

Offer to put the deck together or proofread the copy.

Turn in your projects in on time or head of schedule.

If you have an idea to make someone else's campaign better, share it with them.

If the company wastes water/paper/tea pods, come up with an idea to go green and pitch it to someone.

Stay informed on the category and pop culture and share examples of cool or interesting things that can help the campaign or this client overall. Youtube watching does pay off!

Get involved in agency sub-organizations and non-work projects.

Take the small stuff off someone else's plate, stay visible and show your creativity and personality in every way that you can.

Do whatever it takes to gain everyone's trust and then over time, you can start asking for bigger things.

 It's all part of your evil plan *rubs hands together diabolically.*

But seriously, once they know they can depend on you, they'll start using you more.

Like I said in my post on getting what you want: look at every assignment and every opportunity as a lesson to get you closer to where you want to be. Similar to college where you took courses to gain knowledge to get closer to graduating in your major, see what you want skills and knowledge you need to gain every step of the way – because ultimately it’ll take you higher.

Think big, but start small.

Develop A Split Personality

We're not friends.

Not you and I. Not you and your boss. Not you and 90% of your coworkers.

I like you and all. Think you're adorable. But be sure to always keep in mind that we're professionals and there is a line (sometimes etched in concrete, sometimes, sand) you should not cross.

This includes not bringing your personal drama to work as I talked about in the Creative Commandments.

And not friending me on the Facebook or following me on my personal Twitter account or vice versa.

(This is a personal peeve of mine because I like to keep my business and personal separate, but some people don't mind. Just don't assume I want to see where you were on your last vacation or read your drunk tweets. And I definitely don't want you to see that one pic of me making out with a bag of kettle corn or to get a whiff of one of my potty-mouthed tweet rants.)

I need to see you as a capable professional. Someone I can look in the eye at work and view as reliable, mature and competent. I'd like you to look at me as the same.

At home, I may walk around barefoot and eat peas out of a can, but at work, I'm in heels, wielding a pencil. All that matters is the latter.

Allow people their privacy. Allow yourself your privacy.

You'd be surprised how quickly someone will turn on you and say "He tweeted he was out at 4 a.m. so he was probably late because he was hung over" when they want to steal your shine (#haters), or they're out drinking with coworkers and that third beer diluted their filter.

When it comes to CDs you want to work with, senior level people you currently work with and anyone you want to respect you in the morning, keep your profile professionally driven, limit what they can see, or reach out to them on LinkedIn – the official place to connect with professionals.

You're young so have fun. But you're also young and trying to establish yourself so you don't want anything to work against where you want to be in the future.

Yes, advertising is more fun and more lenient. Yes, people talk about taboo stuff all the time. Yes, your coworkers may overshare from time to time.

But you're new and no one has any allegiance to you. No one knows that you're an amazing writer/designer/art director. No one knows that you're super smart and super dedicated. You show yourself to be unreliable or undesirable in one area, they're going to generalize it to all.
Pow. There goes your credibility.

Split your personality. Have your work self and your home self. And nurture and love each one of them. (Hug them, love them, tell them they’re pretty.) But try to keep them apart. Kinda how you never saw Superman and Clark Kent in the same room.

It's simpler when things are separate.

p.s. when you ask someone to connect on LinkedIn and you've never met them, write them a note saying who you are, how you know them and why you want to connect. Post on that coming soon. Another peeve of mine but an important thing to do to help you stand out and make sure people click Accept Invitation.

Where To Work?

How do you decide where you want to work?

I've talked a lot about going to school (or not), what to put in your portfolio, how to contact recruiters, and what to do when you're at work but very little about that in between part - going from school to work.

There are so many options, and thus, so many questions, and consequently, so much confusion and fear.

What coast? state? What city?
Big agency or small agency?
Public or private owned?
Traditional or digital?
General market or multicultural?
Commercial goods or pharma?

Here's a website that can help you learn a bit of what's out there.

The Creative Ham. (Interesting name. I'm pretty anti-pork but I'm going to let it slide this time)

There are opportunities all across America for you to get your foot in the door or start a smashing career.

Check out their Forever Incomplete List of agencies to see who is close to you or where you want to be.

Outside of geography, the advice I've always gotten and lived by is - Go where there is most opportunity for growth.

Follow the Creative Ham on Twitter: @TheCreativeHam

What do you know?

how will you make them pick you
No, seriously, what do you know?

Or maybe I should ask,
What are you passionate about?
What are you knowledgeable on?
What will people want you on their team for?

Here's a tip to take with you to any job: (Or any scenario actually. You never want to be that loser picked last for the football team.)

Find something you're good at/passionate about/ knowledgeable in and multiply it by 100 trillion.

Learn it. Know it. Master it. Become an expert of that thing.

Hold seminars in your living room. Do reports for your family. Whatever it is, whatever it takes, become that person people want to go to for xyz.

Is it Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare? Is it millennial behaviors? Is it Hispanic spending habits? Grammar? Water color? Writing quirky headlines? Designing with light? Book binding? Speed reading? Drawing ligers?

Take that thing and make it your thing.

Immerse yourself in it and then use it to sell yourself.

Read the blogs, books, reviews, trades, trends, history, projections - anything you can find on said topic. 

Watch videos, movies and documentaries.
Join organizations, go to meetings, talk to other thing-lovers. 
Practice if applicable. 
Blog, tweet, email about it.
Stay relevant and stay involved in the world of Thing.
Show everyone how smart, in tune and up to date you are. 

This is the important part - you have to be able to prove yourself first. You can't just wake up one morning and say "I'm a social media maven" just because you spend 9 hours a day on Facebook and Twitter.

You've got to back it up. Better yet, show, don't tell.

Bring ideas to the table, share articles, quote facts, make your case. 
Be the one people call into a meeting. 

Be the person they say has to be on this project.

It doesn't have to be specifically advertising focused, as long as your Thing something to the work, the agency and the client, at the end of the day that's all that matters.

So whether you're super into music and know every album ever made ever, or into making things and can macguyver anything given two sticks of gum and a paperclip or you're up-to-date on every buying trend of Asian women aged 19.5 to 22, be an expert* at that, be the best, and show your skill so people know they can use you.

Whatever you can bring to the table, get all high school cheerleader and bring it on.

*Warning: no one likes a know-it-all. Just because you know the right answer doesn't mean you have to yell it or force it on people. Use your discretion and practice timing and tact.

Inspiration: Creative Truths

Words words words.
 I'm tired of all these m@f@n words on this m@f@n blog *Samuel L Jackson voice*

Here are some colour and lightness to switch things up a bit.

From Creative Truths

Back2Work: But Are You Ready To Work?

Time to grind. Are you ready?

I hope I didn’t scare you off on Friday with some of the challenges of being a creative. I did it because I love you. Truly. I want you to be great. And knowing what to expect and how to prepare yourself for it is going to help you be great. (Also, I’m a bit of a bully.)

I just want you to be prepared to work hard and give 108% to be successful. 

You have to know the hours can be long and the projects can be hard and you will have challenges and sacrifices. You have to be willing to put in the work to get to where you want to go. 

No one owes you anything.

No matter how good your book is, what award you won, who you know or where you went to school. No one owes you a reply to your email, feedback on your book, an interview
Shoot I don't owe you this next sentence.

You have to prove yourself. You have to show that you are capable and worthy. 

It’s important to have your current/future coworkers like you (Read up on why you should go for a drink with them) but it’s even more important to have them respect you.

And respect is earned.

That’s why I’m always surprised (and turned off) by young creatives with egos and attitudes. Maybe you were the next best thing since wi-fi at home/school, but in an agency, you’re a small fish at the bottom of a big ocean and you have to show that you deserve to be here.

Can you deal with the pressure? The deadlines?  The process? The clients crushing your dreams? Can you work with a partner? A PM? Do you even know what a PM is?

This is why internships and freelance are so important. The more familiar you are with how an agency is run and the more intimate you are with the work process, the more successful you’re going to be. 

It's not enough to be creative (don't be a cliche.) You have to have an edge.

That's why posts like how to stand out and how to promote your personal brand and the art of emailing and books like Breaking In are so valuable.

That’s why becoming intimate with hard work is even more valuable.

There are a million juniors out there. Why should anyone pick you? And if they do pick you, why should they keep you?

People get laid off and fired left and right in agencies, how do you ensure that you are not called into that dreaded meeting? (Outside of putting on your invisibility cloak. I got mine on Amazon.)

And don’t get me wrong, advertising is fun. It’s a great industry to work in. When you win, you win big. But it takes a long time and a lot of work and a bit of luck to get that win. There are at least 4 failures for every win. And a lot of weekend work and missed lunches and cancelled dates.

So start working hard now. Put your all into school, into building your book, into promoting yourself, into your job hunt and into being a student of advertising.

People will see it and think, "Oh, she would put that kind of passion and tenacity into the work we're doing here."

Get internships. Get freelance work. Practice working with a partner. Working with limitations. Get involved in ad clubs and ad organizations. Get as much experience as possible.

Today is Monday. What are you going to do today?

Don't get a job in advertising

Advertising is hard. 

Being a creative is hard.

I know I said I love it, but there are times.... *moment of silence*

If you decided you wanted to be a creative because it’s going to be fun and easy, here’s a quick reality check. It’s not.

Your job is to think, create and engage.

But sometimes, you just don't get it. You get the brief, you get the direction, you get the assignment - but that big idea, that perfect line, that epic layout - nope. It's just not coming.

Sometimes you come up with something great. But guess what, your coworker, the client's competition, some dude in Asia or someone from 1982 already did that shit. Better.

Other times you come up with 43 ideas and your CD says “That's a good start. Keep going.”

As a creative, when you have a block, it's a giant, brick wall block. With steel lining. And bricks made of smaller bricks made of jawbreakers.

It's not easy coming up with something that is creative, strategic, smart, concise, legal and campaignable. It's not easy doing something your partner, CD, account team, planners, client, consumer will like.

There are so many ways to lose along the way.

Say your partner loves your idea and helps build it into something great. Your CD can say no. Or say she loves it, then the account team still has a chance to ruin it. Or the client wants to take out the three best parts of it and make the logo bigger. Or it goes to testing and those precious focus group folks just don't get it and pick someone else's idea. Or it does get produced and one of those ad blogs you previously giggled over with your morning coffee says whoever did this is an idiot. Or worse, consumers write the client and say the hate it, take it off the air. Now.


And this happens almost every project. You throw up your idea in the air and wait for a line of people with rifles to try to shoot it down. It's a game to them. To you, it’s your blood, sweat and tears. But in this business, you have to suck it up and keep it moving – your next assignment is starting tomorrow. Get to work.

This isn't the Advertising you see on TV. This isn't what people talk about on panels or at networking events.

No one will say "Oh, I resized 103 banners today." Or "The client cut the budget on my Will Arnett campaign so instead we're using a talking horse." Or "I had to redo the stuff I stayed late doing last night because the brief changed." Or "I wrote a great script and they gave it to someone else to produce."

No, we talk about summer Fridays, shoots, socials and successes. That one time I worked with Celebrity X or we solved this problem and the client threw flowers at us.

Yeah. That's because we numb ourselves with cotton candy and cocktails.

This shit is hard.

There is no 9 - 5 or M-F in Advertising.

There is no funeral ceremony for dead ideas. Or slings for hurt feelings.

There is no “We understand it’s Thanksgiving/ Christmas/ your birthday/ Sunday…”

I've forfeited many a concert, worked through a vacation, wrote copy at dinner.

These are the sacrifices you're going to have to make. Get that in your head now.

Advertising can be fun.

However, it's also a lot of hard work. It can get intense. The hours can be ridiculous, the egos can be atrocious, the client can be unreasonable and the projects can be overwhelming.

Especially starting out. You've got to put in work to establish yourself. So that means working a little harder, a little longer and a little more than everyone else. That means being stressed out, overextended, overwhelmed and overworked.

As an intern or a junior, you need to work your butt off. Every day, every project. Be the first one in, last one there. Do four versions if they ask for two. Meet every deadline, (link to earlier post on meeting deadlines) even if you have to take work home. Don’t be late, lazy or self-entitled (no one owes you anything). Do not be an asshole.

Pretend that this is the Marines and your first year or two is boot camp.

Remember, there are two other guys in your agency wanting to outshine you and three guys on the street wanting to take your place.

Get a piggy bank now and start putting in a quarter for every time you say or think "They don't pay me enough for this @*$#."

This is how it is. This is Advertising. It's not for the weak-willed, lazy, needy or faint of heart.

I've seen things man... *moment of silence*

Advertising will consume you. Whether it's because you can't come up with an idea good enough or because you're working a million hours a week on a big project.  In the beginning, you'll make very little and work too much. You'll be constantly disappointed. You'll think you're an idiot. You'll push yourself to your mental and physical limits. And then some.

If you don't like it, go home. Find a job in retail or in a bank or a law firm or a school. I genuinely wish you the best. This business isn't for everybody. Find whatever makes you happy 75-90% of the time and go do that. Save your money and time and don't get a job in Advertising. 

It's not worth it if you don't love it.

With that said, Happy Friday.
 Enjoy your weekends while you can.

Article: How To Manage Your Personal Brand

How are you positioning and promoting yourself? I asked in a previous post What Makes You Special, and almost as if the angels are shining down on me (they are) yesterday, I came across a great article from TalentZoo with more ways to stand out in the creative crowd.

How to Manage Your Personal Brand
By: Sean Duffy

Today there is no shortage of articles written about personal branding, but one has always stuck with me:  In 1997, I read an article in Fast Company called “The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters. He wrote:

“You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.”

I remember about thinking how much sense it made, but back then, the tools of self-promotion were primitive compared to the self-publishing possibilities of today’s social web. As always, Tom Peters was a step (or two) ahead.

I was reminded of this article today when talking to my niece, Katie, who just graduated from Emerson College in Boston. She is looking for a job in story development for either film or television. I asked her how the job hunt was going. I expected her to ask for help with her resume. The word “resume” didn’t come up.

“Well, I’m just adding the finishing touches on my blog,” she said.

“So it’s a blog about what it’s like to be looking for a job?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “That’s too broad. I want to get my name out there, but I want to be seen by the right people, so it has to be a lot more specific.”

“OK, so it’s about film production?” I asked.

“Close,” she said, “but still not specific enough. I want the topic to reflect my career interests and to show up on searches that my targets are making.”

“So what is your blog about?” I asked.

“It’s called Novel Ideas on Film,” she said. “It’s about story development for films that have been adapted from novels.”

“I get it,” I said. “That’s pretty advanced; it should give you an advantage.”

“Not really,” Katie said, “everyone does it. My friend Jillian is into entertainment reporting. She just started a blog called CelebFoodie where she posts recipes either created or inspired by celebrities. And Tim, he’s into film, he has a blog called Why is this the best? and he is going through the American Film Institute’s top 100 films and providing his own take.”

“So the blog won’t really differentiate you that much?” I asked.

“Well, just creating a blog won’t differentiate me that much, but the content can,” she said. ”That’s what really matters. And of course I can use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to publicize it. That will help give it some visibility.”

Now, Katie didn’t major in marketing, but listening to her explain her online strategy showed me that she had a solid understanding of several key concepts as they applied to her personal brand. Things like:
  • Brand identity
  • Differentiation
  • Target analysis
  • Inbound marketing
  • Content strategy
  • Target-centric SEO
  • Brand focus/specificity
  • Online promotion
  • Multi-asset web presence
I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that I spend a good part of each day trying to help experienced marketers put these concepts into practice with their companies’ brands. The biggest obstacle for many brands is that the marketers in charge lack a fluent understanding of these concepts and their interplay online. Concepts that, apparently, are second nature to any twenty-something theater major seeking employment.

This is an unexpected offshoot of the personal branding bonanza:  It is unwittingly training an entire generation of people in the principles and practices of proper online brand management.  But what is it about this training that seems to make it so much more effective than the training received by many marketers?

I think it has something to do with the motivation to learn. Like many people who are unemployed today, Katie is faced with the challenge of entering a tough job market with incredible competition. She didn’t learn brand management to get a good grade or to manage someone else’s brand.  She is managing something infinitely more important: the brand of ME. 

That’s why I think it is a great idea for any marketer or prospective marketer to build their own personal brand. Yes, it will help you secure a better job, but the daily brand management, monitoring, and course corrections will also make you a better marketer.

The good news for any marketer looking for a job today is that you can start building your brand now. I’d start by reading Peters’ article and thinking about my niece’s approach. Katie was only eight years old when Tom Peters wrote “The Brand Called You,” but after talking to her this afternoon, I realize that: a) Peters’ ideas seem to have gone mainstream among Millennial job seekers and b) his advice is more relevant today than ever.

What’s your take on the personal branding boom? If you have started a marketing-oriented blog, please share it here in the comments and let us know how it’s going.

Drinking is good for your job.

Go have a drink with your coworkers.

Go on. Do it. 
 (Yes I'm blog bullying you. Deal with it.) 

Every now and then, you have to socialize with the people you work with/for.

It's not in your job description, but it's part of your job. Better yet, it helps your job. 

Ad folk love to send a mass email, set up a meeting on the calendar and come by your desk and demand you join them for lunch/dinner/drinks. 

If your schedule, workload and liver permit, you should go. 

I realized how important this was in portfolio school. I worked thru school and had my own family and friends in Atlanta so I didn't spend much time outside of school with my classmates. But then I realized in school, they'd pick their buddies to work with on projects and give them more/better feedback.

People like to work with people they like. People want to be comfortable with people they work with. People want to enjoy working with the people around them. 

At school, at the office, wherever.  

This social interaction is important to your career.

It has nothing to do with drinking really. It's more about being able to relate, to engage people, to let your hair down a bit and laugh off the madness of the day. It just makes people feel good and let’s them see you as a person more than just a pixel pusher or word jockey.

A convo about west coast living over Stella and scotch with an old CD got me on two great projects the next week. I didn’t do anything much. (I am pretty charming.) But I think it was just being able to chat with me and see that I am not a complete idiot that made the difference. I’d been working my butt off and I think this interaction just tipped the scales in my favor. 

So if they ask you to go out, go.
If they don't, ask if you can go.
If they're not going, organize somewhere to go.

And when you get there, ask questions, use this as your chance to show your personality, share you outside of work self (wow you hunt meerkats?) and general awesomeness. 

Even if you don't drink, go. You have no idea how many steak dinners my veg face has smiled through with my lovely side salad. All that matters is that they saw my veg face that night and would think of me tomorrow when that cool project comes up.

And if you do drink, don't forget my earlier advice about being drama-free at work. Your coworkers are not your college buddies. Control your drinking, stories and antics. 

Stay classy San Diego. 

warning: I was just being cute in my title. Drinking on the job and being an alcoholic is not cool. Don't be that guy.