'Tis the Season. A time of year veteran advertising workers are all too familiar with: egg nog, Christmas cookies and layoffs. This year, the number of layoffs has hit record highs. Few agencies are coming out of it unscathed, and out-of-work advertising veterans are scrambling to find jobs.
As Organic's director of talent acquisition, I've been swamped with requests from friends and strangers: "How do I find work in this economy?" The truth is, there are still some positions out there. But now more than ever, it's important to be strategic and persistent in your job search and to continue to upgrade your skills. The following are my own top 10 recommendations to help ensure your pursuit is successful:
Create marketing materials that reflect your personal brand
In such a competitive marketplace, it's important for job seekers to refine and communicate their personal brand. If a close friend described you in ten words or less, what would she say? Do some soul-searching to think about who you are and what differentiates you from others doing the same type of work. Make an exhaustive list of all of your projects, successes and failures. What is the consistent "story" that this tells about you and what course your career has taken so far?
Create a web version of your resume. Many recruiters are using Boolean Logic -- a process of entering key words in a variety of formats -- in search engines such as Google and Yahoo. This enables us to find candidates with specific skill sets to meet our needs. If you post your website as an HTML doc on the web, we stand a good chance of finding you. If you have an entire portfolio website, make sure your web resume is a separate link attached to your web portfolio (and not buried in a Flash site), which will allow recruiters a better chance of finding you.
Consider producing a video resume. If constructed well, this is a terrific way to introduce yourself to a prospective employer in a customized format. Once it's complete, post it on YouTube as a video resume and promote it on your social-network statuses. Some additional video resume sources to check out are Vault, Hire Vue and Resume Video.
If you're creative, it's expected in this digital age that your portfolio is online. It makes a bad first impression with most creative directors and recruiters if you drop off a "hard copy" of your book, rather than just forwarding a link. Web.mac.com, Behance or Coroflot offer tools to create an online portfolio.
If you consider yourself an expert in a certain area, blog about it, write about it, speak about it. These are all ways to increase your visibility and "blow your own horn" while providing value to others.
Immerse yourself in social networking
Facebook isn't just for college students anymore. It's a valuable tool that allows you to increase your visibility and use the "six degrees of separation" theory as a way of connecting to the person who might hire you in your next job. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter happen to be the current hot social networks. But there are others to consider, such as Naymz, Plaxo and Spoke.
Be conscious of your "netiquette" during interactions on a social network. Display a photo that represents your personal brand. Nothing says "candidate to pass on" like photos of you shooting tequila at Hooters. Think before posting statuses. A status like: "Jim is brushing his teeth" won't tell a potential employer much about your background -- and, for that matter, might raise some eyebrows about your judgment for sharing bizarre personal hygiene information in a public place. Instead, post links to industry information, blog entries or other items that display your knowledge or interests.
Be your own search-engine marketer
Say you're a Flash designer looking for a job. Think about what key words a recruiter would use to find your kind of talent, and then enter those words into a search engine. For example, "Flash AND designer AND resume." There are over 4 million results on Google for a search like this. I don't know many recruiters that have the time to search through 4 million result links. But now, with programs such as Google Ad Words or Yahoo Search Marketing, you can ensure that your web resume or portfolio appears at the top of the result list (or as a sponsored link), for a relatively low cost of entry. Compile a list of key words that a recruiter might use to find you, and set up a key word search campaign for yourself within your personal budget.
It really is all about who you know
Choose the top 25 companies that you would like to work for. Send out a mass e-mail to all of your friends and ask if they have any contacts at the companies you've listed. (Or, you could also post this on your Facebook wall.) If they do have contacts, ask if they'd mind you dropping their name when you contact the person they know. "Hi (name of hiring manager). My friend XX recommended that I call you re: XXX positions available at your company." This will greatly increase the chances of the person responding. Be sure to include links to any of your online personal marketing materials: web resume, portfolio, etc.
Bookmark the websites of the top 25 companies you'd like to work for
Most well-established companies have websites that list their current job openings. Many companies offer RSS feeds or job alerts to subscribe to on their websites -- informing you when a position that is suitable to your background becomes open. And, by the way, nothing puts you on a recruiter's bad side more than applying for jobs that you have no experience or skills for.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR|
Traci Armstrong is the director of talent acquisition at Organic.
Post your resumes on places other than the mega job boards
It's a given to post your resume on Monster, CareerBuilder and HotJobs. But often, a small to mid-size company can't afford access to the resume search tool on these job boards (resume access can run from $5-10,000 per year). And even at larger-sized companies, corporate recruiters are looking for unique talent -- which we often can't find on the big job boards. There are literally hundreds of niche job boards that you can post your resume to, including: Coroflot, Arthire, Dice, TalentZoo and MediaBistro. Also, consider looking for positions on your college alumni job boards. Many companies use this as a free resource to look for candidates that may have graduated from a specialized curriculum.
Watch the trades
Subscribe to websites such as Ad Age, AgencySpy and AAAA Industry News, and watch for notices of new business wins. More than likely the agency will be staffing up for their win -- and the time will be right to contact the agency's recruiter.
When you get that first phone interview, offer to Skype
Many recruiters will ask to do an initial phone screening to quickly evaluate whether you are a match for a position. If you feel confident in your interpersonal skills and how you present yourself, offer to conduct the interview via Skype. This is a great way to differentiate yourself from the anonymous voice on the other line of a phone call -- while at the same time demonstrating your willingness to adopt new technology early.
A few days ago, a friend's Facebook status displayed that he had "bailout depression." It's hard to stay positive during such a difficult time, but the truth is -- with perseverance and ingenuity -- a job is out there for you. Focus on areas of growth and pursuing successful, sustainable agencies. Positions in areas such as analytics, strategy, SEO/ SEM, user experience, flash development and design all have a high demand. Think of your job search as an opportunity to grow and adapt. A focused effort -- combined with a positive attitude and belief in your good mojo -- will eventually attract the job that you're looking for.