Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Expand Your Network with One Simple Question

"Do you know anyone else I should be talking to?"

End every conversation you have with that one simple question.

The beauty of the question is that not only do you get a name or two to contact, you get a name to use when making contact.

"Hi. Kevin Fullerton said I should talk to you. I'm a writer ..."

People are much more likely to talk to you, and more importantly listen to you, when you've been sent to them by someone they know. They're also more likely to be helpful.

Even if they don't have a job opening, they may know someone who does. In any event, after thanking them for their time, ask:

"Do you know anyone else I should be talking to?"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Do I Send My Portfolio to an Agency?

Kevin – Is a physical book something you bring to an interview, or is it something you send off to agency? I've noticed most agencies have a stack of books that were sent to them. And if you do send your book off, do you get it back or do you have multiple copies? – Hudson

Your book/portfolio will be viewed in two ways:
  • During an interview // After reviewing your resume, the agency will determine they want to meet you and view your portfolio at the same time. In fact, viewing and discussing your portfolio will be the majority of the interview. You will usually leave with your portfolio in hand. Occasionally the interviewer will ask you to leave it behind (especially if they want someone else to see it). Ask them when you can return to pick it up. A day or two is the longest they should hold it.
  • Pre-interview // An agency may ask you to send in your portfolio to determine if they want to interview you. They'll call in several portfolios at once so they can narrow down their interview pool. They should hold it no longer than a week. Again, ask them when you can return to pick it up.
Since you may have to leave your portfolio with an agency for a few days, it is best to have more than one copy of your portfolio. The last thing you want is to have someone call you in when you are sans portfolio.

Also, don't be afraid to ask if you can send it to them electronically instead (just be positive it works perfectly on any computer). This gives them what they need and doesn't leave you minus your portfolio. If fact, for interviews, carry a copy of your portfolio on a CD as a leave-behind. 

Lastly, if they don't understand you can't be without your portfolio for more than a few days, run the other direction. You don't want to work there. 

Any interviewers out there have other recommendations?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Why Can't I Get a Job?"

I've been hearing that question a lot lately.

For each person, it's a different reason. Right now, it's mostly the economy. However, some people immediately take themselves out of the running by bone-headed moves.

So I posted the following question on Twitter and Facebook: "What mistakes do you see from recent grads during the search/interview process?"

Loads of people responded. Most of their responses fell under the following seven mistakes:
  • Don't know what they want to do // "I could do account service or creative." No. No you can't. If I'm hiring a writer, and it's between a writer and someone who could do whatever, who do you think I'm hiring? 
  • Don't stand out // Boring resume? Generic cover letter? No interview for you. If you can't effectively market yourself, why would I hire you to market my client?
  • Irrelevant information // Unless one of my clients is HyVee, I don't care that you worked for HyVee. You only have about 20 seconds to capture my attention with your resume. Don't waste it on things I don't care about.
  • Mistakes // As my friend David so eloquently said "Proof. Proof. Proog. Oops." 
  • Not prepared // "So annoying when students come in for an interview and don't know a flipping thing about my company." Why would you want to annoy the interviewer?
  • Following bad advice // This comes from a recruiter: "Following really bad advice from a parent or relative. Like asking for upper 30s for a first job in advertising." Make sure you're getting advice from people who know what they're talking about.
  • No follow up // "A thank you note afterwards is a nice touch. Hardly anyone does it anymore and it can really make you stand out." And when she says note, she mean handwritten.
I'm sure you've heard most, if not all, of these before. However, these are the common mistakes recent grads continue to make. Want to have a chance at getting that job? Make sure you don't do any of the above.

Good luck.