Confessions of an advertising recruiter: Candidates' biggest questions answered
I want to get more digital experience but most of my background is traditional. Am I missing the boat?
Yes, you are. I would encourage everyone to get savvy with new technologies in their jobs, especially if their experience is a little old-school. You may have to take a slight step back but it will set you up for future success.
A former boss of mine gave me great perspective about this. He’s a senior agency executive with largely traditional, blue chip, creative, New York agency experience. Recently, he made a move to a digital and direct agency which doesn’t even do creative. He took a slight step back to head of client services because it was a calculated career move.
He led accounts in his former agencies but he was never the subject matter expert in creative, production or media. Similarly in this new role, he’s not the resident big-data guy or digital jock. But his superpower is to know how to apply the best resources to help solve clients’ business problems. He repositioned himself for an important pivot.
How’s my resume?
Generally, the resumes I see are fine. After all, we’re in the communications business. And if they’re not, I will refer them to a resume-writing specialist whom I recommend. She once took a resume from a super-brainy senior strategist who happened to be from Russia. Ironically, it reminded me of “War and Peace.” It was several pages of small text with no sense of design.
After significant edits, it read well and trimmed to two pages. It was graphically pleasing, reflective of the senior player this candidate was. It got him an interview.
Remember, your resume isn’t meant to tell everything there is about you. It’s supposed to be representative enough to get you an interview. Besides, resumes are often skimmed, not read.
I do encourage people to include quantitative results of their contributions in their resumes. It’s been an ROI world since the recession of 2008. Hiring managers expect enough value from you to pay your salary and benefits and also provide some profit to the agency. One NY account guy I talked to recently included in his resume “Played a role in...” this or that account. I reminded him he’s not an actor playing a role on Broadway. Show an employer in concrete terms your accomplishments.
When I’m asked about different versions of your resume for different jobs, the answer is “it depends”. Sometimes an agency wants to see their exact job specs reflected in your resume. If you’re working with an independent recruiter, you should expect to be packaged for a particular job.
A LinkedIn profile is a light version of my resume, right?
Wrong. Your LinkedIn profile should be chock-full of everything a potential employer could be looking for, especially if you’re in job search as an “active candidate.” Even if you’re not, the best time to find a great job is when you already have a job, so be prepared. We call you “passive candidates.”
Recruiters and people doing research for us are on LinkedIn every day. It’s a great tool to find candidates.
Pack in all the key words relevant to your experience. And make sure people can reach you. It mystifies me when people who say they’re in active job search don’t include their contact information. Even digital search specialists overlook this for themselves. So fill out that Contact Info section. (I even put my phone number in the headline!)
Portraits can also help. It’s not that we want to see your pretty smile, but it does raise doubt when people don’t include their photo. What are they trying to hide?