Job Hunt Tips & Mistakes

Here's an interview with a creative recruiter that discusses Dos and Don'ts for your job search. Just in case you didn't believe a word I've been saying for the past 300ish posts...*ahem*... now you can hear it straight from the horse's mouth. And I can hold up Kanye's "I told you so" sign. (After I borrow that jacket.)

Stuff I Told You That's Reinforced in the Interview:
You must have a portfolio.
You need to have big ideas (conceptual campaigns that carry across different media with various executions.) 
An awesome portfolio trumps just about everything.
Internships help you know what kind of working environment you work best in and automatically puts you in the hiring pool for future positions. 
Be excited when a recruiter contacts you – but you have 3-4 rounds of meetings with different people and approvals to go through before you get hired – so don’t quit your retail job just yet.
Put your real name and contact info on everything.
Always include a link to your portfolio in emails etc.
Keep emails concise and focused.
Get on LinkedIn.
Have possible partners in mind just in case they’re looking for a team.
Network, network, network.
Ask questions.
Don’t be a pest.
Don’t look down on internships or freelance.
Learn about the agency you’re interviewing at.
Don’t copy and paste the same email over and over.

The Interview:
from Miami Ad School's blog

Recently we caught up with Alexis Gianoulis, Global Creative Talent Coordinator for Y&R in New York. She visited Miami Ad School South Beach to review portfolios and help students who are getting ready to graduate with interview skills and tips for their books. We spoke to her to get some insight into what she looks for when hiring and how students should prepare as they get ready to interview and look for a job. In today’s post, she talks about the importance of a portfolio and the educational background and experience of an applicant.

What do you look for in a portfolio and why is building one so important?
I look for big ideas! As a recruiter it's impossible to consider a candidate without a portfolio to show his or her work. Junior level positions and even internships are very competitive so it's a requirement for all aspiring copywriters and art directors. Today it's equally as important to have a portfolio available online.

Do you take into consideration the educational background and experience of a potential hire or is it more about the portfolio?
An awesome portfolio will always trump educational background and past experience; however,  it's something to take into consideration. It also depends on what type of job I have available. Sometimes the role dictates that the candidate has a specific skill set or prior experience. For example, I often get requests for art directors with a background in graphic design. As a global recruiter, sometimes I also get requests for candidates that can speak certain languages so that's another example.

Are internships important?
Yes, I think internships are extremely important for both the candidate and the employer. As a student it's difficult to know what type of environment you want to work in once you graduate (large agency vs. small agency, having mentorship vs. autonomy, working across accounts vs. being siloed, working in a major market vs. a smaller one, etc.). If you don't do an internship in a real-world setting, it'll make your job search that much harder. For the employer, it's a bonus to meet a junior candidate that's decisive in their goals. Also, doing an internship is a great way to get your foot in the door with an agency. Typically, we look to our past interns as potential hires when we have job openings.

Once a creative recruiter sees a candidates book and likes them what happens? Recruiter contacts the candidate by email or phone to discuss the opportunity and learn more about them personally. The recruiter might then send their portfolio to the Creative Services Director or a Creative Director for their opinion and feedback. Assuming everyone is still interested, the candidate is brought in to meet with the recruiter in person. Then, the candidate will be brought in again to meet with other members of the creative team (people they would be working with or working under). Final decisions are then made about hiring.

What tips would you give junior creatives who are looking for their first job? • Always include your contact information (email and phone number) on your personal website/portfolio. Include your real name somewhere on your portfolio. I often see a team name, nickname, stage name, etc. but that's not helpful when I'm trying to contact you. • If emailing a recruiter, make sure to send a link to your portfolio in the email. Otherwise, we probably won't go through the trouble of figuring it out. Keep emails short and sweet with a clear message about what you want. Most recruiters won’t take the time to read something that looks like an essay. • Get on LinkedIn. Do it now! Make sure your website/portfolio is available through LinkedIn. • Have a partner in mind even if it's someone you're willing to work independently from. At the junior level we most often hire in teams. • Take this time to network with as many people in the industry as possible! Don't be afraid to set up informational interviews/casual meetings and ask lots of questions.

What are the biggest mistakes you see juniors make? Not following the above tips, harassing recruiters for jobs, thinking you're too cool for school (not willing to consider a paid internship or freelance gig if a full-time job isn't available), not knowing anything about the agency you're interviewing with (recent work, top creative leaders working in the agency), and copy and pasting the same email message to multiple people in the same agency (we will know). I'm sure there are more mistakes but these were the first that came to mind.

New Ads For Old Things

Do you have anything in your book for a classic product? Something you remember from your childhood that's still around? Something that is so a part of our culture and lives that we don't even think about it?

Everyone else is working on the popular brands (Coke), local kitschy places (Brad's Bacon Bits & Tire Shop), or just making up products (Glow in the Dark Tide) - you should start thinking about creating something great for well-known brands that have survived decades of changing tastes, cultural shifts and technological advancements?

Stuff like LL Bean, Campbell's condensed soups, Hersey bars, Wilson footballs, Little Debbie, Wonderbread, Vaseline, Post-its, and Hasbro.

Check out these print ads for Scrabble (made by Hasbro.)
Some of them make you think, some make you smile, all in all, you get it and they all remind you that the most awesome game ever still exists.

What can you reach back into the past to relevant in 2013?

What awesome digital and social ideas could you come up with for Scrabble or another board game? (Think Connect Four, Battleship, Monopoly, Candyland etc.)

Get to work!

Great Ads For The Greatest Game Ever. 
(I may be slightly biased.)

Beer & Your Interview

I've been quoted saying "If Heineken were a man, I'd marry him." This is just another reason among the 42 million reasons I love Heineken.

Their latest project, The Candidate, is smart, creative and funny. (All things I love.) Plus it highlights some really valuable things about job interviews to help you do better. (Things you should love.)

The actual project sought to sift through over 1700 applications to find the most creative, passionate and spontaneous person to join Heineken's Events & Sponsorship Marketing Department.

The three-and-a-half minute video compilation of the project (*ahem* promotional stunt - I mean, they didn't do all this just because they had a seat to fill. They did this for press. Hint: it's working.) Anyway, the video shows what these guys went through - pretty random and kind of extreme stuff - but it really did point out some of the pitfalls people usually fall into when they go on interviews. And more importantly, truly exhibits how stepping outside of your comfort zone and being quick on your feet can get you further than you think.

Sounds kind of familiar right?

It should. I've been yapping about this stuff for over a year now. (I'd post links of relevant posts but I'm lazy today.)

At this very moment there are thousands of people who are reaching out to the same hundred creative recruiters for the same fifty jobs.

They're all passionate. Focused. Talented. Smart. Eager. Hardworking.

Just like you.

What can you do to win?

Here's what you can learn from The Candidate.

1. Don't say what you think they want to hear. Sounds cliche - but be true to yourself. Show who you are, how you're different and why you're great. If you are the right fit for the agency, you'll both know.

2. Be agile. You never know what may happen - what could go wrong - what could pop up. You have to be ready to deal with anything and most importantly, to change and adapt in an uncertain situation.

3. Be honest about how you feel. Are you nervous? Are you excited? Are you having a good time? Are you not sure what that question means? Interviewers are human. And they know you are. So don't be afraid to be imperfect and unscripted.

4. Get comfortable with the interviewer. Ask about their career path, their day to day job, their take on the agency, the industry, the position. Talk about their dog or whatever else you pick up they're passionate about. People want to work with someone they can talk to and hang out with. And, of course, someone they can trust.

5.  Leave an impression. When you write back in a day or two, how do you want them to remember you? What are the two or three main things you want them to be able to say to someone else about you - that they can only say about you and not Joe, John, Joanna or Jamie?

Good Beer Ads=Good Times?

Been talking about serious stuff recently. Today, let's go the complete opposite - what's more fun than beer?

Well, lots of things actually. Because working on beer advertising isn't really that fun.

Sorry to burst your bubble. 

Working on a beer brand is surprisingly challenging - from legal constraints to no real product differentiation to the daunting fact that you can do anything and the crushing reality that everything has already been done. Plus, having to be funny on demand and appeal to the mass market without offending anybody is like doing cartwheels through a mine field.

And don't forget, everyone has to keep the labels forward. Oh. And you can't actually show people drinking the beer.

Yeah. Good times I tell ya. Good times.

TIP: Unless you can come up with some amazing social extension/app/totally innovative game-changing thing - don't put beer ads in your book. 

Here are some of my favs from my memory and The Best 40 Beer Print Ads, 75 Creative and Humorous Beer Ads and 11 Best Goddamn Beer Ads Ever.

(Full disclosure: I'm partial too all things Heineken)

Friday Treat: Google's Latest

What's better -

A. The amazingness that is Google Glass? Check out the video posted Wednesday of Google Glass - augmented reality glasses that respond to voice commands and do just about anything a smart phone can -  view images, messages, maps, video chats, etc - right in front of you, while you're doing whatever else you want to do.

Read How They Work

B. Or are the comments below the YouTube video the real stars here?

C. Or maybe it's the fact that you can get one sooner than you thought?

They're accepting applicants for beta testers - with a surprisingly simple process that starts with

"Using Google+ or Twitter, tell us what you would do if you had Glass, starting with the hashtag #ifihadglass."

Applications due Feb 27. Get all the info and apply now.

(Note how they didn't include Facebook lol. Play nice kids!)

All in all, a whole heap of amazing.

Make a PSA Today

Milk advertising is mostly propaganda and spin*. People think I'm weird when I say this. But I think it's weird that humans are the only species that drink another animal's milk and the only ones that drink milk as adults. Well, besides for cats, who are given cow's milk by humans... so... yeah. Bottom line is: Y’all are weirdos.

Anyway, I figured, if advertising could get seemingly sensible humans to do something so borderline ridiculous and against nature, then what else could advertising to get people to do?

The diabolical side of me first thought- "Take over the world!" [insert evil laughter]

But then the sweet part of me said- "Fix the world."

We work so hard every day to get people to buy things, to spend money and to over-indulge.

How about if we used our skills for good?

I say all this to ask - Do you have a PSA in your book yet? Or at least something, anything, that isn’t about spending, but about doing? Something that will move people to act or to change? Or at least think?

The image above is one of my favs that has stuck with me for years. It’s simple and striking.

Here are some others I thought were cool. Be inspired. Go create something that can fix the world.

Right now.

You can be funny:




Above all else, be smart:

And to not be a total Debbie Downer, here’s a video montage of cats loving or hating water.

* I'm not going to get into it now my whole anti-milk tirade, but milk doesn't really do a body good and isn't really going to help you lose weight and won't stop you from getting osteoporosis. And non-organic cow's milk... shudder.

Change The World. Or A Law.

Still in the political tip for some reason - don't ask.

Realised I don't think I've ever seen a book with political ads. Maybe "Go Vote" things, but nothing more actionable.

Could be interesting to try your hand at it.

Not for actual candidates (way too polarising) but may try doing something for laws and propositions and social causes.

Ooh! I'm excited! This could be great!! You should totally do this

What if you could create ads that you can see directly how well it works? What if your ad changed the country? What if you could make people's lives better? 

What if you created a campaign for/against Prop 8, Prop 37 or Arizona SB 1080  (gay marriage, GMOs, racism respectively)? ((full disclosure: I'm disgustingly liberal. ))

How could you educate people and motivate them to actually act?

Here are some ads I found for the laws I mentioned above - and while these particular issues may no longer be very relevant (they are) - there are others out there. (A lot) And there will be many, many more. (Unfortunately)

The most important thing that came out of my search was this: I'm sure you can do much, much better than this. 

Research what's going on out there, pick a side, then create something that will make people think - or better yet - act.


Run For The White House: Best Political Ads

In honor of yesterday being Presidents' Day, I'd like to share some famous political ads.

It's been an interesting history -- from town halls and meetings to propaganda posters and print ads to radio to TV to Obama's incredible social strategy -- I'm not going to go into the details (partially because I don't know all of it) but here's a link that I found helpful and informative. Feel free to read A Brief History of Political Advertising in the USA in your leisure.

Whether you've been paying attention or not (the last two elections have been difficult to miss - even if you tried), here are some of the bests from elections past.

(one of my favs.)


(Can't lie, it's catchy)

Such a creative insight.

This isn't even an ad - which is part of what makes it great.

And then there's this:
  Not for TV, not official from the party, but shareable, digital and great for reaching a younger audience.

Go Here: Social Media Week

Social Media Week is upon us!

Y'all know I love the Internet, I also have a thing for social media. It's off and on. We go through things sometimes. But I always keep coming back.

Next week is Social Media Week in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Lagos, Miami, Milan, New York, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo and D.C.

According to their site: "Social Media Week is a worldwide event exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media. Our mission is to help people and organizations connect through collaboration, learning and the sharing of ideas and information."

According to me: This is gonna be awesome.

Check out the site to find events in your city.

FYI: Some of the events are free, some of the more awesome sessions are not.

Here are some of the free ones in New York that I'm going to try to check out.

See more for New York

Follow them on Twitter @socialmediaweek

Make Somebody Cry

When making an ad of any sort, your goal should be to reach people -- and to make them respond.

Whether it's to laugh, or to cry, or to run out immediately and buy something - always ask yourself "Is this going to get a reaction?"

I had a teacher in portfolio school say "Whether somebody loves it or completely hates it, at least they reacted to it. You never want someone to go Meh. You never want to be forgettable." (Those weren't his actual words and I'm pretty much a liar for using quotes here but you weren't there so you can't prove anything.)

People usually go for funny (which isn't as easy as it sounds). But what about making someone sad/thoughtful/introspective?

Here are some ads that made me cry. (In full disclosure, I cried during The Lion King and almost needed therapy after watching City of Angels. But they had hours to work on my heart strings, these ads are 60 seconds or less.)

Enjoy. Well, don't enjoy...I don't know. Just be inspired.

50 Sites You Should Bookmark Now

First off, let me just say that I fricking LOVE the Internet. If the Internet were a man, I'd totally marry him, quit my job and have hella Internet babies and spend my days teaching, cooking, cleaning and doing whatever the Internet told me to do. I will be his Subservient Chicken. And we'll live happily ever after (hopefully in a mansion somewhere in the world wide web.)

But I digress

In case you weren't paying attention, or maybe forgot or didn't have the time - Time Tech was kind enough to collect the most awesome websites of 2012 and share it with me. (Probably not me personally, but I'd like to think that so let me have this.)

And now I'm sharing it with you.

Who will you share it with? 

50 Best Websites 2012

TIME's annual salute to sites and services that keep you entertained and informed, save you time and money — and maybe even change your life. 

Here's the full link because it's one of those awfully designed pages that makes you click through to read more instead use my two finger scroll like real people. 

Here's one of my favs: 

" When you’re listening to music online, you can painstakingly create your own playlists. You can rely on technology such as that employed by Pandora to choose songs you’re likely to enjoy. Or you can drop into Songza, where the hard work of constructing playlists is done by the site’s music experts; the only technology they use is their own good taste. The Music Concierge feature lets you choose a scenario (such as “Cooking Breakfast” or  ”Unwinding After a Long Day”) and helps you home in on a genre (like “Smooth Rockabilly” or “Frat-Rap House Party”). Then you just sit back and listen."

Tuesday Inspiration: Think of Travel

Everybody needs a travel-related piece in their book. I don't know if this is a fact or not. I may have just made it up. But it makes sense to me right now.

First off, travel is amazing. Seriously. You grow so much, get inspired beyond your wildest dreams, and actually experience some of your wildest dreams. And not I'm not exaggerating.

Seeing different parts of the world, experiencing different cultures and being thrust into a situation where everything is different and strange and now you're the odd one out is amazing for your character. And your creativity.

I asked for a week off during portfolio school to take my sister to London and Paris. The copywriting department head said: "Go. You can learn more there in a week than you can in a quarter here."

Not to be a cliche, but life is the best teacher. And travel is sort of like a cheat sheet.

So my first bit of advice is to travel.

My second bit, is to work on some piece of travel for your book. Whether it's a tourism ad for Oaxaca or a travel brochure for Lincoln, Nebraska - challenge yourself to find ways to make the seemingly unattainable or average feel indispensable.

That's what our jobs are, right. To sell a dream. What's a better dream than getting away from it all?

To inspire you, here are two pieces I really like. One is a fun and bold personal project by some Kentucky-loving creatives and the other is a classy, dreamy series of typography and travel.

Do something -- anything -- that will move people. Literally.

Kentucky for Kentucky

Kentucky Kicks Ass - Rebranding Kentucky from Kentucky for Kentucky on Vimeo.

Europe in Letters: Location Typography
from Visual News