10 tips to help you land a great job

Rich @ Syracuse on stage

Tuesday at Syracuse, I spoke about how great I think it is to work in healthcare advertising. My topic was called “Healthcare advertising doesn’t suck.” I showed lots of examples, talked about the myths surrounding healthcare advertising, and tried to show 200 students the path to getting a great job.  Since Tuesday, I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from those students asking questions about a career in healthcare, about getting internships, about getting jobs.

But many have requested I publish my 10 tips for getting a great job.  These are very simple and basic, but you’d be surprised at how many people blow an interview by not following these simple principles.

So here they are:

1)   Have 6 great campaigns in your portfolio (website and PDF).  You are only as good as the worst thing in your portfolio. You need at least 6 great campaigns. Your interviewers will probably only look at 2 or 3 campaigns.  But you need at least 6.  If you don’t have 6, get to work.

2)   Control the conversation. Make sure your portfolio or website is set-up in a way that you control where the viewer goes. If you leave it up to me, I may look at the worst work in your portfolio by chance. Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure I see your best work.

3)   Research. Know as much as you can about the agency and their work. And absolutely know as much as you can about the person interviewing you. Google is an amazing tool for interviewing. Use it.

4)   Hire a proofreader. Nobody knows more about typos than me. But you can lose a job opportunity because of a typo in your resume or in your work. Trust me, you can’t see your own mistakes. Your brain fills in the correct word. Hire a friend. Pay them in pizza. Do their laundry. But have someone proof your work.

5)   Rehearse. Practice, practice, practice. Know what you want to say about yourself, your campaigns, the agency, even your life story. Talk out loud. Have a friend interview you. Video the interview. Watch yourself. You may notice something you want to hide.

6)   Know what you’re wearing before the morning of the interview. I can’t tell you how many people wear completely inappropriate things to an interview. If you have to tug on your skirt – it’s too short. If you have to pull up in the neckline – it’s too low. If you can’t sit on the floor and be comfortable, you’re wearing the wrong thing. Wear what you would wear on your first day of work – and then make it a little nicer. No suits. No party dresses. Something fun. Interesting. Stylish.  Your first advertising campaign is yourself. How do you want to package it? How do you want people to remember you?  Consider everything.

7)   Prepare questions. I asked everyone I meet if they have any questions. If they have none, I don’t hire them. People who are really interested in a job have questions. Prepare 3 to 4 questions. Write them down if you have to. Bring a pad.  But ask something.

8)   Don’t be boring. Advertising is not a career for boring people. Have a story. Have an interesting hobby. Ask fun and interesting questions. Make it up if you have to. After all, I’ve just met you; I don’t know anything about you. But don’t just sit there.  An agency should be made up of interesting people. If you’re boring, don’t apply.

9)   Don’t be late. Pretty self-explanatory.

10) Intern and never leave. The best way to get hired is to intern and never leave. Some students graduate and won’t accept a summer internship. That’s foolish. We hire many of our summer interns. Intern at an agency where you want a full time job, and plan on staying. Move in. Work your internship like it’s a full time job.

There you have it. Pretty simple stuff. Think of it as a checklist for interviewing.

Good luck. And if I see you, you’ll be ready.



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