Friday, May 23, 2008

Watch Out for This Interview Trick

The trick – Interviewer turns the interview into what appears to be a casual conversation.

Why this trick is used – To get to know the real you. Everyone shows up for an interview on their best behavior. You know the answers I'm after ("My greatest weakness? I'm a perfectionist."). You know to sit up straight, look me in the eye and answer my questions succinctly. I'm trying to throw you off. I don't want interview-you. I want real-you.

Why this trick works – You reveal more about yourself than intended.

Why this is dangerous – See previous answer.

Remember, no matter how comfortable you are with that person, or how casual they seem in their questioning, they are sizing you up. Comparing you to others. Determining if they can spend 8-10 hours a day working with you. Never, ever, ever let your guard down.

I'm not telling you to be fake. I'm telling you to be professional – and in control of how you are representing yourself.

Because I may be all smiles and jokes, but I'm still evaluating you for a job.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Resume Writing Tips

Your resume has one job and one job only – to get you an interview. You will be judged in less than 30 seconds, so make sure your resume is top-notch.
  • Make your resume visually appealing, but easy to read.
  • Make it relevant. If it doesn't apply to the job/career you're interested in, leave it out. Your part-time job at McDonald's will not get you a job in the creative field.
  • Use a direct, active writing style. Begin sentences with action verbs.
  • Write with short phrases rather than complete sentences. If you can say it in five words, don't use 20.
  • Tell the truth. Trust me, it's so easy to check up on things that any lie/half-lie/exaggeration will be caught.
  • Watch for errors in spelling and punctuation. Have at least one other person proofread.
  • Keep the employer in mind. Ask yourself "Would I interview this person?" If the answer is no or maybe, keep working.
Your resume is the first impression someone will have of you. Make it strong.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Creating a Portfolio When You have No Samples

"I'm graduating in a few weeks. I decided four months ago that I want to be an advertising copywriter and I've only taken one marketing class. I have initiative and ideas, but my portfolio is severely lacking because of the short amount of time I've been interested in this. In a few months I'll be moving to Chicago and hitting the pavement hard; what would you recommend about a portfolio?"

Find a way to show your abilities – even though you don't have the education or training of your competitors. Creative directors hire talent over training every time. The best art director I know has a divinity degree.

Lock yourself in a room and start creating ads – print, radio and TV. If you have a designer friend, team up and create ads for both of your portfolios. Make creating ads your full-time job. 

Showing up without samples only leads to the shortest interview of your life.

Come in with around a dozen pieces. You'll need that much to show you have the ability to do the job. Creative directors are not going to take your word for it that you can create advertising. They need some proof.

And be patient. You've gone about this the hard way. Set up informational interviews and get your portfolio critiqued. Then go back, fix what needs to be fixed. And do it again. And again. And again.

Remember, you're asking someone to take a very big chance on you. They're going to have to teach you what you didn't learn in college. You have to possess some serious talent – and drive – to overcome that obstacle.