Advice for recent college grads looking for an advertising job

I’ve received many unsolicited resumes from college grads seeking employment. Most just earned a degree in advertising or graphic design and want any job in the industry. We’re not hiring, but I can offer some advice:

  1. Learn useful technical skills.Your BS/BA in advertising from State U is…I hate to say, “worthless,” but that’s what comes to mind. However, if you know Photoshop or basic XHTML/CSS, then you might get your foot in the door. Also, learn about Google AdWords and social network sites. Read design magazines and blogs. Better yet, start your own blog.
  2. Proofread your cover letter, resume, and email correspondence a few times before sending.I just received a resume from a self-proclaimed copywriter, and it included several typos and grammatical errors. I don’t want to sound condescending, and I’m certainly not the best writer, but please learn the difference between:
    1. Their / they’re / there
    2. To / too / two
    3. Your / you’re
    4. Its / it’s
    5. Affect / effectAnd, OMG, WTF?! Please don’t use text message shorthand.
  3. Consider freelancing or getting an unpaid internship.I understand you want health insurance and a regular paycheck, but if you have some technical skills, then you might be able to freelance. And if you don’t have technical skills, then be willing to work for free and learn on the job.
  4. Highlight other skills / talents.Are you a good photographer? Can you edit digital video and upload to YouTube? Do you speak Spanish? Are you a musician? Do you make really good coffee? These skills can set you apart from other recent grads, and they’re all relevant to the advertising industry.
  5. Be energetic, happy, positive, etc.I know it’s difficult to smile when you’re unemployed and broke. But look on the bright side: you have more time to learn skills and hone your resume.

I’ve been in your shoes. After graduating from University of Florida in 1999 with a BS in advertising, it was my mad Photoshop skills, not my degree, that caught the eye of my first boss. I had two unpaid internships and worked in a copy shop during college. I was lucky enough to learn Photoshop, QuarkXPress, and Illustrator before graduating. Plus, UF let me take computer programming classes to satisfy my foreign language requirement. Even if you want to be an AE, some technical skills could be your Golden Ticket into an advertising job.

About the Author:
Thomas is the ringleader at Motionbuzz.
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