Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Use the Holidays to Your Advantage

I love the holiday season. Everyone is friendlier. Meetings are rare. There are fewer gatekeepers.


Yes, fewer gatekeepers. That means your odds of reaching someone on the phone go up.

Many receptionists are on vacation, so people pitch in to grab the phones. And most of those people don't screen calls or know how to forward you directly to voicemail. So, as long as your person is in the office, you have a better chance of reaching them.

And to top it off, they're probably in a good mood. Most deadlines are past, so they're probably not under the gun. They may actually have time to talk to someone who's looking.

So give it a shot. You may actually get to talk to the person you've been trying to reach.

This is a limited time offer though. Once the new year starts, the previous state of affairs returns.

Happy holidays. And good luck.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Marketing Yourself

Searching for a job is exactly that – marketing yourself.

So apply what you've learned about marketing/advertising to sell yourself as a job candidate.
  • Identify your audience // Who are you targeting? Ad agencies? Design firms? Publications? Decide who you are going after, so you can ...
  • Determine their needs // This will tell you what kinds of pieces to include in your portfolio. Also, it will help you determine which skills you have, so you can ...
  • Let them know What's In It For Me (them, not you) // They don't care what you've done as much as they care about what you can do for them. Don't just talk about you ("I learned Flash in school") talk about how that experience/skill benefits the interviewer's company ("With my Flash experience, I can create better interactive sites in a short amount of time"). Then you can ...
  • Make your call to action // Ask to set up an interview. Or see if you can drop off some samples. Then follow up. The worst they can do is say no. So why not ask?
Put your marketing abilities to work for your most important client. You.

(Also, here's a great post at talentzoo.com. You'll notice that much of the advice given to experienced professionals applies to you as well.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's All About Your Portfolio

But, you know that already, don't you?

Unfortunately, most creatives view building their portfolio as another project – with a beginning and an end. "My portfolio is together, so now I can focus exclusively on my search."

Never stop working on your portfolio. Work on it constantly. Your goal is to knock your weakest piece out of your portfolio. And then do it again. And again. And again.

That makes it stronger. And increases you chances of landing a job.
  • First, look at your current work. Improve it. Have a great concept that's well-executed? Rework it until the execution is as great as the concept.
  • Second, look around for non-profits you believe in. Volunteer to design/write/shoot something for them. It will give you a professional piece (while improving your career karma).
  • Third, talk to your friends and family. Any of them starting or own a business? Volunteer to help them out creatively.
  • Lastly, just create. If you're a designer, find a well-known logo you hate and redesign it. If you're a writer, give a new voice to a stodgy company. You get the idea.
Most importantly, never stop working on pieces for your portfolio. Creatives live and die by our portfolios. Give yourself a fighting chance.