So it’s 2014 and you’re on a quest to land a new job at a brilliant agency. But how do you make sure you stand out from the hundreds of people doing exactly the same?
Our Creative Director, Martin Homent, shares his tips and insight into what he feels works well. As with everything in this industry, this is by no means a guarantee of success, but it may help improve your chances of landing the job. The rest will be down to bloody hard work and a constant hunger for learning new things. Good luck.
Start with your best work
A good Creative Director can judge whether or not someone is right by looking at a small handful of work. If they like what they see, they’ll look at the other pieces because they want more. Your first piece of work should be the one that you want to be remembered for. Lose a Creative Director on the first page and they’re just a click away from the next applicant.
Give more than a CV
Creative Directors get excited by seeing good work and this is ultimately what brands want too, so this is where I always start. If your work is good enough, I’ll then look at your CV to get a feel of where you’ve gained experience and what you want to do next. Never send in just a CV. You’re in a unique industry where you can prove the claims on your CV through the work you produce, so make sure you do.
Check your spelling and grammar
Simple stuff, but you’d be surprised. It won’t be a deal-breaker, but you should be able to spell or know how your computer can help check things for you. There are no excuses for being sloppy and not checking your work shows a lack of attention to detail.
Be harsh when editing work
I’m amazed at how many people have submitted over 50 pieces of work in the hope I’ll see something in amongst it all. This is simply too much and your audience doesn’t have time to edit for you. Only show the very best of what you can do and try to keep your examples relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Don’t over sell
Remember, your audience is used to seeing and signing-off ideas. If your idea works, they’ll spot why. If you feel the need to include a rationale, make it brief and give additional insight to the work. Don’t, like one applicant did, tell the reader why the work is good. It’s great because it’s eye-catching. That’s for the Creative Director to decide.
Do one thing well
As lines are continuing to blur, there’s a trend for people to profess to be all things to all people. But I want to know that I’m hiring the right person for the right job, which becomes more difficult if I can’t determine what your specialism is. I also want to work with a team of creative specialists who can collaborate with others to make something great. Don’t claim to be a photographer/illustrator/designer – it’s a job that doesn’t exist.
Keep loading times short
If you’re linking to a website, please make sure it’s a way to see your work quickly and simply. Avoid adding animations or large file sizes and make sure it can be viewed on any device. I recommend using a simple portfolio site (like Creativepool) to showcase your work.
Focus on the work
Some people have tried the approach of ‘doing something different’ to get attention. While this may raise a smile (and sometimes eyebrows) I’d advise against it – unless you want to work for a direct marketing agency. Your portfolio could be great, but it’s likely you’ll be judged you on your approach before your portfolio (if the Creative Director gets that far). Use your creative energy to answer a brief you’ve always wanted to work on and include this in your portfolio.
Know your audience
A lot of applications come through from people claiming they’ve ‘always wanted to work’ at my agency. However, a majority had no idea what my agency did or how they could fit into the creative department. Even if you’re applying to a lot of different agencies, take the time to understand what they do and who they do it for. If this means having a few different portfolios aimed at different audiences, then do it.
Keep it relevant
Your letter of application should be short, sharp and focused. Pitched well, it’ll make sure the Creative Director can get to what’s important. They’ll not only see how good your work is, but also understand your skills and future ambitions. Don’t, whatever you do, open with a paragraph about how you love (and could be related to) a well-known sports personality. Yes, that has happened.
Ultimately, being a creative at an agency is about making ideas that sell. Your application for a job is no different. You’re lucky enough to work in an industry full of talented, passionate and creative people. Now show people why you’re one of the best.