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Your Mother Lied To You

Posted on July 24, 2013 and read 2,798 times

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bartcleveland Your Mother Lied To YouBart Cleveland
Creative Development
Job Propulsion Labs

Even at its toughest, advertising is a job that most wish they could do. With the allure of show business and the excitement of invention, it’s no surprise people go to great lengths to break into it. Advertising programs teem with students that spend countless hours developing portfolios in hope of a shot at the hottest companies in our industry.

Most have those hopes dashed soon after graduation. Parents bark about their unemployment status while payment schedules for student loans arrive in the mail. A job candidate supply that vastly outnumbers demand leaves most candidates ignored, even many that were at the top of their class.

If you’re one those new graduates, you may bypass a ton of obstacles between you and your dream job by understanding a dirty little secret: Your mother lied to you.

You’re not a snowflake. Not in this business. You’re not one in a million, you’re one of a million. Face the fact that you’re not bringing anything to the industry that it hasn’t already seen and done. By accepting this truth you free yourself to do something critical for your career: get the right job from the beginning.

Here are some ways to do so:

Start your career while you’re still in school. I give a lot of talks on career development at ad schools. One of the first questions I ask is where people want to work. Invariably, few if any people will voice an answer. They simply haven’t considered it yet, because they haven’t graduated. No one wants to hire a student. They want to hire a pro. Logically, those who show they are pros will get the best jobs. And the way to be a pro is to not only be a student in school, but also a student of the business.

Learn everything about what companies are leading the ad industry and about the leaders of those companies. Learn which brands are the most innovative in their marketing and the agencies that work for them. Apply this knowledge to efforts to get information interviews and internships. Don’t wait until your last year in college to do so. In fact, you can’t start too early. I recently sat down with a young woman who will be a senior in high school this fall. She asked smart questions about where to go to school and how to succeed in advertising. If she keeps doing what she’s doing and works hard, success will come early in her career.

Get to know your potential boss. I tell students to stalk “quietly.” Social media like Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Quora are great channels to connect with the companies and people that lead our industry. You don’t need to engage them. Just listen and learn. Many have blogs. You’re doing marketing research on your target audience. By figuring out what makes them tick, you’ll be more prepared to meet them and make a favorable impression.

Want an interview? Prove you’re worth the time. The lack of soft skills in entry-level professionals has been well documented. Even if it doesn’t apply to you, pretend it does and do everything you can to demonstrate you are the best job candidate. There are two things to do in this regard. First, always use proper social etiquette and professionalism when communicating with a potential employer. Second, through your work, show that you’re the real deal. GapJumpers is a great concept by two entrepreneurs, Petar Vujosevic and Kédar Iyer. It’s a simple Q&A between industry professionals and those who would love to work for them. Answering a question properly can separate you from the pack and land you an interview or better. This format of engagement may be the wave of the future for our industry. What seems better, interviewing candidates or asking a question to see who is worthy of an interview?

Get your foot in the door by kicking it in. One of the debilitating things my generation did to the millennial generation is teach them that success happens by showing up. That’s why many are ill prepared to navigate the ad industry’s difficult vetting process. Many I speak with are overwhelmed and ready to give up. Many move to other industries that are not as rewarding or take jobs that pigeonhole them into careers of obscurity.

Don’t get mad at the harsh reality of this business. Get even by working hard and carving a successful career out of very hard rock. Success is the best revenge. And after you’ve done it, you’ll know, like everyone who has ever succeeded, that true success is earned.






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