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.