In addition, getting a job in an advertising
agency requires determination:
1.) there are few job openings, and
2.) other bright people, like yourself, want those jobs too.
Nothing guarantees a job with an agency. Here
are some basic steps to get you started.
- What is Advertising?
- How is Advertising Developed?
- Advertising Career Possibilities
- Getting Started
- The Essentials
- The Interview
To put it simply, advertising is salesmanship.
It can make the difference between business success and failure.
It is a cost-efficient way of telling buyers what is for sale
and what the product’s features are. At the very least, it
seeks to persuade someone who is in the market for a given
product or service to consider a particular brand.
The business of advertising involves marketing
objectives and artistic ingenuity. It applies quantitative
and qualitative research to the creative process. It is the
marriage of analysis and imagination, of marketing professional
Advertising is art and science, show business
and just plain business, all rolled into one. And it employs
some of the brightest and most creative economists, researchers,
artists, producers, writers, and business people in the country
- All good advertising includes some basic steps before
it appears in public:
- It defines its markets.
- It assesses the competition.
- It determines who the target audience is, and how and
why it chooses the products it does.
- It sets goals and a budget: what the advertising should
achieve and how much must be spent to
- achieve those goals.
- It determines the media: what vehicle (television, newspapers,
magazines, outdoor) will best reach the target audience
to be effective.
- It creates a message: what pictures, words, and music
will best attract and appeal to the specific target audience.
An advertiser usually hires an advertising agency
to help them identify prospective customers, create the advertising,
and buy the broadcast (television, radio) time and print space
(magazine, newspaper, and outdoor) to carry the advertising
work that consumers see.
Find out as much as possible about the advertising
business, what an agency does, and the career area or department
in which you would like to work. Read every bit of relevant
material you can find - articles, books (see On-Campus for
suggestions), and industry trade press such as Advertising
Age, and ADWEEK.
Talk to people. Track down any contacts or
friends you have in the business. Sit down with your college
instructors and career counselors. Check professional organizations
like the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Advertising
Women of New York, the American Advertising Federation, or
your local advertising club.
Remember, one source of information can lead
to ten others. The more you know about your chosen area, the
better you can present yourself as a first-rate candidate.
Decide what factors are important to you about
a company and evaluate prospective employers on that basis.
Make use of the Standard Directory of Advertising Agencies,
popularly known as the "Agency Red Book". It's available
at most libraries and lists all the agencies worldwide. It
gives names and titles of key people, size of agency (dollar
billings, number of offices, and total personnel), the agency's
accounts, and a breakdown of the media in which the agency
invests its clients' money.
Read the trade press to learn more about specific agencies
you want to target.
With all the competition for jobs in
advertising, you must develop your own "unique selling
proposition" to communicate your own unique qualities.
It's not enough that you are interested in advertising or
that you made the dean's list eight times or that you wrote
for the school newspaper. So did most of your competition.
You have to connect what you've done in the past, in a unique
way, to what you will do for the agency in the future. Developing
a strategy gets your commitment, imagination, and analytical
thinking out in the limelight. It is key to making you stand
out from other candidates.
The primary purpose of a resume is to
get you an interview. Used correctly, it can open doors. Used
incorrectly, it slams them shut. A good resume connects your
experience to your job goal. Support your candidacy by highlighting
relevant skills -e.g., writing, speaking, managing, marketing,
etc. Include any activities, jobs, or internships directly
related to advertising. Did you sell space for the school
newspaper? Were you yearbook editor? Stage manager for the
college theater group? Add less-related activities only if
they are outstanding. Be selective. Your resume is a selling
tool, not a life history. Keep it neat, clear, and precise.
Try to make it unique and interesting but not gimmicky.
A cover letter works hand in hand with
your resume. Together they create a first impression of you.
Your cover letter should work as a connecting tool between
you and the agency you're writing to. Don't let it read like
a form letter. Instead, include real knowledge of the agency,
its clients, its work, its position in the industry. Tell
the agency why you are interested in them and why you think
you'd be right for them. And then make sure that you are prepared
to discuss in your interview whatever you say in the cover
And remember, you're being judged on
communicative skill. Watch spelling, grammar, and typing.
Most important of all, be clear, crisp, and brief.
To help you land a job in an agency creative
department, you must prepare a portfolio that shows your thinking
and imagination. If you're an aspiring art director, this
clearly has to include ample demonstration of your design
ability and graphic sense. If you want to be a copywriter,
visuals are less critical than demonstration of your writing
ability and marketing sense.
In either case, show your very best work.
If you have not had any experience, pick some currently running
campaigns, determine their objectives, and interpret them
in your own way. It doesn't matter if your "ads"
are not professional. Your prospective employer wants to see
fresh concepts and new ideas that prove you have potential.
Ask for criticism, and learn from this free counsel. Then
keep making changes to improve your portfolio.
At most agencies, an invitation to be interviewed
reflects more than casual interest in a candidate. If you've
made it this far, you're at least in the quarterfinals. And
if you've done your homework, you should have nothing to worry
Review your resume and the cover letter
you sent to the agency. Decide what key selling points you
should communicate about yourself. Think how you can best
Review the information you have about the agency. Be aware
of its current campaigns and any fast-breaking developments.
Commenting on these can help you to make an immediate connection
with the interviewer.
Be ready to discuss your point of view on advertising in general
and your area of interest in particular.
But relax and do it naturally. Don't try to
recite everything you know. Selectivity shows you are thinking.
Remember, someone is interested enough in your background
to invest 30 minutes or more in you.
That person wants you to succeed.