Robert Stone, Head of Talent at McCann Worldgroup, explains the trials and tribulations of his graduate experiences and shares advice for those just starting out on the career ladder…
I will admit that being a graduate was probably one of the lowest points of life. After graduating, society seems to paint a picture that “life is only complete if you are accepted into a Big 4 graduate scheme”. Trust me I got declined from plenty of these roles however persistence is 100% the key. I know every industry is different however I am a strong believer in creating your own opportunities and here are my top 5 tips for graduates trying to land a job in Ad land!
If you can gain ANY experience even if its unpaid take it! I know it sucks and no one wants to work for free however having industry experience is a MASSIVE advantage. As a graduate you really need something that separates you from the thousands of other graduates that are all applying for the same role! Whilst you’re studying I highly recommend that you try to get an internship or even a couple of days’ work shadowing within an agency. This will help to increase your personal brand and will allow you to truly understand how an agency operates. A couple of days within an agency will give you a great understanding of the culture, processes and what you’re actually getting yourself into!
As a junior creative or designer it is soooooo important to have a strong online portfolio. Make sure that it is clean and a true representation of your style and craftsmanship. We understand that you might not have been exposed to live briefs so please don’t worry! What we are looking for is how you conceptually think and bring ideas to life! As an aspiring creative, make sure to pull together proactive work! Think of a brand and pull together some ideas of how you can improve their brand, sales & image.
Many people say that the resume is dead! Well believe me its not! The more senior you become…that may be so however if you’re a graduate you are once again trying to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other applicants! Your CV should represent you and should paint the picture of who you are at a quick glance.
Please don’t get carried away with every job you have had including the paper rounds as a teenager. Make sure its relevant and you have outlined skills that you believe could be transferable to your application. Marketing & Advertising is a business of communications, Be clear and demonstrate how you can interact and deal with people.
Have an opinion
People may correct me here however I always respect someone that takes a risk and doesn’t play it safe! If you’re applying for a role in advertising, then you need to have done your research on campaigns that you like and be honest to why this is so. It doesn’t have to be a campaign of the agency that you’re applying for… If anything I respect a candidate more for mentioning a competitors Ad as it shows that they are bold.
Start your networking NOW!
I am a strong believer of making your own opportunities! Never wait until you have graduated to apply for “Grad Schemes” online. You should be having conversations 3-6 months prior to graduating! Get set up on LinkedIn and start building your personal brand and connecting with people within your preferred employers of choice! Don’t be scared and put yourself out there. You will be surprised by how many people that will accept your connection request and be happy to chat/point you in the right direction. If someone doesn’t get back to you or accept your request… Well you know what? Who cares, what have you lost in trying?
Lastly I would like to note that the above advice isn’t aimed purely at graduates, it is aimed toward first job seekers. If University wasn’t for you then please don’t stress as a good employer should understand that everyone’s circumstances are different. I’ll be the first to admit that trying to find your first job is a nightmare, however stick with it as persistence will be the key!