Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Written Word – Your First Impression

Yesterday I received a self promo piece from a designer. It, sadly, included the following sentence:

"Time for trying to get the work done while your staff memebers take much needed breaks."

"Memebers?" Really? It was a horrible sentence to begin with, but to also misspell members?

I'm sure most people did what I did upon reading the line – promptly trashed the mailer.

Avoid the wastebasket. Carefully write and proof your cover letter, resume, e-mail correspondence and thank you note. And for God's sake, run spell check. It would have caught "memebers." Let's face it, if you're careless on something important to you, should I expect you to do any better on client work? No. You move straight to the reject pile.

I'm not asking for beautiful prose (unless you're a copywriter), just mistake-free text.

I know this advice seems obvious, or at least it should. Unfortunately I see way too many mistakes like the above and people don't realize how quickly and completely it can kill their chances for a job. And the poor guy in our example mass-mailed his piece. He turned off loads of potential employers with just one mistake.

ONE mistake.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Power of Persistence

Wow. What a suck-ass job market. Especially for entry-level creatives.

The advertising field (which also strongly affects design and publishing) is a leading indicator of a worsening economy. Short-sighted companies cut their advertising budgets first – and increase them last. That, of course, has a huge effect on agency staffing.

Usually I have trouble keeping up with all my job-changing friends. But lately I don't know of anyone changing jobs. And I know of fewer places adding jobs. That's bad news for recent graduates.

Now that I've brought you down, let me share a secret weapon with you: persistence.

You need to keep at it. Your job search is your full-time job. I'm talking eight (or more) hours a day. Your day should include:
  • researching – find out who's picking up new business
  • networking – that includes classmates who graduated before you
  • interviewing – set up informational interviews
  • events – attend industry events, introduce yourself to people
  • volunteering – get involved in the local industry organization
  • pro bono work – a great way to get new work for your portfolio, professional references and contacts
  • creating new work – keep making work for your portfolio, make it stronger
  • finetuning – your resume and your portfolio
And you have to stick with it. Keep in mind, your competition is going through the same thing. Sometimes the person who gets the job is the one that outlasts everyone else (watch any competition reality show to confirm).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Industry Take on Millennials

"Don't trust anyone over 30."

During the 60s and 70s this was viewed as a universal truth by baby boomers. Then, of course, they hit 30 (long, long ago). Now the saying seems to be "Don't trust anyone UNDER 30."

You can't read anything about so-called millennials without reading how they're pampered and unprepared for real life. That may be true in some cases – but that was also true for many in my generation (Gen-X) and all the proceeding generations.

So it's nice to read an industry article that isn't putting down millennials, but talking about how to work with them. Check it out. It will give you a feel for how the smarter agencies will approach you – and how to pick out the dumber agencies.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Career Blog for Photographers

Hey photographers: my good friend (and photographer extraordinaire) Alistair Tutton has started his own blog aimed at giving career advice to aspiring photographers. Check it out.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Dangers of MySpace et al

True story: A student working at a coveted internship sent her supervisor a link to her MySpace page. The supervisor proceeded to read an entry about how the student liked getting stoned during her lunch breaks at the company – and even named the company.

Fortunately for the student, she didn't send the link until her last day – so it was too late to fire her. Unfortunately for the student, she can NEVER use the internship on her resume. (But then I know this person – she just may be foolish to do it anyway.)

While this an extreme case, be careful about what you put out there on MySpace, Facebook, etc. Photos of you drunk or showing your ass, talking about hangovers and all that other stuff that seems funny in college can come back to haunt you big time during your job search.

There is so much information out there on people that most employers will at the very least Google you. Many will go beyond that and try to view your social networking pages. And if they really want to see it, they'll find a way to view it.

So clean up all that information out there on you. The sooner the better. Don't miss out on a job because of a stupid photo or comment that you meant just for your friends, but were naive enough to put out there for anyone to see.

If you put it on the internet, it's fair game.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Homework Assignment

Check out this advertising blog by Sam Meers. And then bookmark it.

'nuff said.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Focus on Where the Job Will Take You

Some people focus on salary. Some on perks. Others on titles.

Your focus should be squarely on "where will this job take me?"

Dead-end jobs distract you with things like a nice salary, or great benefits or perks. But that's what they are –distractions.

When considering a job, think about the job after that. And the one after that. Will this job lead you where you want to go? Or does it take you down the wrong path? Let's face it, once you start down a path it's always easier to get another job somewhere along that same path.

That is, unless you're willing to start over. And why do that? Especially when you can start by going the right direction the first time.