It's not just me touting LinkedIn!

Everyone should read this article about maximizing your potential to be found on LinkedIn. It lays out in clear terms the benefits to spelling out exactly what you do, and to using a title that's less like a vanity plate, more like a professional descriptor:

Revealing the #1 Secret to Being Found by Recruiters on LinkedIn

Also crucial, a link I found in the article above, this bit of enlightenment on KEYWORDS!


design:related has a new & improved portfolio tool!

Looks great so far. Check it out and remember, just because you may have one online presence, doesn't mean you shouldn't have more -- SEO varies from site to site so if you want to get noticed, you have to be in more places. Try design:related!

Another free platform for your online portfolio

Created by one of our own, a CD in NY, David Lee, this is a very cool place to upload some work. Since I love my soap boxes, I'll remind you to always add some kind of contact information! Make it easy for us to find you and ask you "Hey, wanna job?"

Questions you can ask while in the interview

Of course any questions you ask should feel natural to you and the organization itself, chose wisely from this list, but there's plenty of fodder here to inspire some good questions... rather than saying "No, I don't have any questions."

*Certain ones would be a death sentence to ask in our industry (well, almost any given the power of the interwebs and the idea of preparing for an interview.) Case in point, #4 "Has the company received any major awards or recognition recently?"

Again, chose wisely and make sure you're comfortable asking the question(s); you don't want to sound like you're a bad actor reading from a script!

JobVite's Patrick Neeman on "How to Build a Great Profile on LinkedIn"

Patrick, recruiters everywhere salute you! Job seekers, please read. Then go forth and conquer!


The 5 iPhone Apps Every Job Seeker Needs

Fantastic help for iPhone users looking for a job! 5 apps that can make a great difference in your search:

Great apps and great advice/rationale/tips for using them in this article posted by Rich DiMatteo.

When Enthusiasm borders on Stalking

There was a great article recently on hotjobs citing 6 reasons you might not get a response to an application. (Tiny url: It’s a great read and I’m so glad it was posted. I’m especially partial to reasons #3 and #4. As an op-ed though, I’d like to add a reason #7: You’ve made yourself a nuisance and won’t ever be hired here.
Before writing this, I asked a few fellow recruiters what topic I should cover and they came back with a resounding reply: “Stalking!”
The hotjobs article reminds us that time simply isn’t on our side. There have been loads of lay-offs in many companies, but have you thought about which departments get hit first? It’s the non-billable ones (i.e. HR and Recruiting). Therefore, while there are hundreds more resumes coming in weekly, there are fewer people to review them and to handle the actual hiring process.
So how to proceed without becoming a nuisance?
1. Make sure you’ve read the job description several times. If you really fit the bill, apply. Meanwhile, tap your network for internal contacts in the hopes of being internally referred as well. Send a nice email (*attach resume and signature with portfolio/blog link, email address, phone number*) to the connection and thank them for being so kind as to forward it. You can otherwise call reception to ask for the email address of the internal recruiter or recruiting coordinator. Send that person said email with resume. Now wait.
2. If you don’t hear anything after 2 full weeks, ask someone in your field to read your resume and the job description to see if they see the fit. If they do and you’ve been busily investigating the company, getting excited by what they’re doing, send a snail mail resume and cover letter explaining your respect for the company and fit for the role. Address it to “Hiring/Recruiting” -- the mailroom knows where to deliver it. Now wait again.
If you do those three things and still don’t hear anything, as hotjobs said, they’re just not that into you and leave it at that. Don’t take it personally; there’s just someone else with a leg-up on you this time. Keep your eye on the company website for subsequent postings and start over in a few months if you feel so inclined.
NOW… what to do when you actually GET a response? Well, if it’s to tell you they’re interested, follow their instructions at this point, and good luck!
IF, however, the response isn’t quite as favorable, please take note of the following.
A vague “thanks but no thanks” response ONLY warrants a reply to thank them for the follow-up and let them know you would appreciate being kept in mind for future opportunities. (*If in 2+ months you see another role that matches your experience, apply to the role online and alert the recruiter by replying ever-so briefly to his/her original message from last time.*)
On the other hand, if any response from a company is more specific, read it carefully. Respect the contents. If you do not possess an adequate amount of one or more of the required skills, still send a “thank you” reply as instructed above, but DO NOT argue the point. I have NEVER seen this work in a candidate’s favor. Never.
If a company takes the time to tell you why they aren’t moving forward with you, please do not turn it into a back-and-forth, time-consuming, irksome dialogue. You may have what you think is a lot of financial services for example, but for this role, compared to other applicants, based on company needs, it’s not enough. You may have some digital under your belt, but as of now, not enough. The list goes on but the point is this: you can’t possibly know better than the internal recruiter and hiring team what they need, so let them do their jobs, be respectful of their time, thank them and move on.
Too many times I’ve seen candidates argue their qualifications. They try to convince us that we just need to give them the opportunity to learn and grow and prove what they can do. Time, money, and client patience are tight commodities – we need someone who can do this job, as it’s written in the description, today.
All “stalking” gets anyone is a bad rep. Recruiters warn one another about stalkers, about the candidates they should avoid. Stalkers wind up looking desperate and we all know, if you’re desperate, it means no one wants you. If no one wants you, you can’t be any good. I say this plainly because it’s a basic human truth. Humans want what we can’t have. It’s supply and demand. In retail, no one wants the last one. The last one finds it’s way to the clearance rack. Don’t put yourself on the clearance rack by appearing desperate.
This brings me to my conclusion and my op-ed reason #8 that you maybe haven’t heard back on a resume submission. It’s the fall-out of the stalker factor. Unfortunately, email has made it too easy for some people to stalk. Once these people have direct access to a recruiter, they abuse the privilege. As a result, recruiters have become skittish and afraid to make contact for fear it will result in having another stalker. Kind of like the housing crisis, a few bad apples have spoiled it for everyone.


Are you ready for a job search?

Great Newsday article out today: Are you ready for a job search?

Truth is most of us aren't ready - even when we're right in the middle of a job search! Check out the article, it links you where you can take their beta test and better prepare for the hunt.


NO SPAM FILTERS when you're job hunting!

I recently got this message when I replied to someone applying to a job posting:
"To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand. If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox. You do not need to resend your message. I apologize for this one-time inconvenience."

Don't make employers have to work any harder to reach you. Even if it means you get a few offers of pills promising to enlarge certain body parts, deal with it. Otherwise you risk not getting that email saying "Thanks for submitting your resume, are you available for a phonescreen?"

My article on TalentZoo's Career Oxygen: "Value Add"

Value Add

You have three seconds to impress me.

You get 30 more if I like what I see at a glance.

It does indeed sound like dating, doesn’t it? And you should think of it that way; it’s in the interests of both parties to feel a little giddy and a lot excited about the prospect of “getting hitched.”

Recruiters want to know what you bring to the table. It’s even more the case these days. When you hear numbers like 2000 people have applied for one job at an institution used to receiving 20 applications per position, you know there is some very fast scanning of resumes going on.

So, what makes you special? Give it to us straight, up front, your 30-second elevator pitch in a neat and tidy summary at the top of your resume. An Objective is well, just alright—many of us tend to ignore those because they are usually rather generic sounding. We much prefer a concise yet explicit Summary.

It’s not enough to simply say you’re “multi-channel” or “multi-media” and leave it at that. What are your specialties? Give me the keywords I might be looking for: interactive, Web, online, digital, print, television, broadcast, direct, radio, video, traditional, packaging, branding, outdoor, out-of-home, guerilla, social media, iphone applications, mobile, technology, financial services, healthcare, beauty, automotive, consumer goods, Flash, Ajax, Javascript, CSS, MS Project, Visio, wireframes, and so on.

If you’ve got too many buzzwords for the summary, you can use “multi-media” or “traditional and digital” in your 30-second summary as long as you elaborate within the Experience section. We like details in the experience section because it helps us determine how many years exposure you have to a particular medium or client vertical. (Include dates for your work history—it only makes us suspicious if you don’t!)

You might think there’s nothing terribly outstanding in your experience, maybe just the usual stuff those roles entail? Look for the details, the golden nuggets. Don’t sell yourself short, *BUT please, please, PLEASE, DON’T say you’re “The Best” or brilliant or exceptional or cutting-edge, or anything that raises expectations so much that the only way is down! (Back to that dating analogy, does anyone like sitting across the table from a braggart? Don’t the self-proclamations frequently prove false? So, don’t set us up for disappointment. Be cool, be honest, be clear.)

Here’s a old trick, let friends and family read your resume and ask them to tell you what you do! If they can’t, ask them if it was too dull of a read or if perhaps they simply found it vague. Either way, it’s valuable feedback and warrants addressing. Now do the exact same thing on—a missed treasure ship if you aren’t on it and using it to its fullest.

Make the first three seconds great and the next 30 even better. You’ll have a love connection going much sooner.


Stay away from these job seeking faux pas!

Saw this link on twitter today, and it's priceless. Very useful tips to make your way to a recruiter's heart, and things to avoid if you don't want to make your way to recruiters' trash.

Also, for more job posting sightings, tips, recruiting news, follow me on twitter.


Now, this guy REALLY gets it!

Meet Jasen Dickan. Learn from Jasen Dickan.
His Linkedin profile makes me weak in the knees.
His online portfolio has me taking cold showers.
Why? Because he REALLY gets it -- he tells me everything I need to know about him. He is saving in-house and external recruiters probably 2 hours of up-front time that might otherwise be wasted going back and forth with questions about his skills.
Right away, we know EXACTLY what he does, how well he does it, where he's done it and how much of it he's done. Moreover, by noting what's not listed, we can determine the things that he likely DOESN'T do that much of, again saving us time.

So, does Jasen just want to save me valuable time? We do have a good rapport, so I can tell myself that's his aim, however, there's definitely a better reason for it and it's the reason I write this post. He's opening up more of the world to himself. He's getting valuable keywords out there and coming up in more searches. By doing so, he appears more professional and buttoned-up. This in turn ups his stock.

I mention him here with his permission -- I told him my goal is to get more people to follow suit. Everyone from Project Managers to Account Services to IAs to Creatives: give us the juicy details upfront and you'll reap the rewards.

Here are his summary and specialties sections from Linkedin:

Award-winning leader with 12 years of interactive, marketing, and branding experience. Proven ability to supervise teams and develop design talent in others. Passion for innovative strategy, design, and technology.
creative leadership, web design, web sites, intranets, interaction design, usability, branding, business strategy, ecommerce, financial services, pharmaceutical, photoshop, typography, color theory, HTML, CSS, photography, successful new business pitches, inspiration

It's wonderful stuff, very informative. Now check out his portfolio:
Notice the way he specifies his % of involvement in various capacities AND how he gives credit to the other contributors. Providing the level AND kind of involvement you had on specific projects when you have a breadth of skills, goes a long way in establishing credibilty and setting expectations.

If you're looking for work - or just like to keep yourself current like Jasen - please take some time to enhance your profiles and portfolios. And make sure they all link to one another. Do it not for the sake of us recruiters, but for you.

Jasen, congrats on being this "teacher's pet", and thank you for letting me use you as an example! Keep on truckin'.


Necessity is the mother of all [re]invention

Recently I was emailing with a very talented designer. I realized that much of what I was telling her could be valuable to other Designers and Art Directors. So here's a bit of what I hope is helpful advice:

Freelance is big right now and growing. (There are no employee head count issues for companies, no extra taxes, insurance or benefits to pay for, and even if they pay an agency fee, it's cheaper to use freelance and easier to manage costs day-to-day.) Unfortunately, there are fewer projects and for the first time, I want to say since maybe 2002, online ad spending is down too.

So what can you do?
Hit the pavement. This is a time when local independent shops are vying for consumer dollars, but they don't have the $$$ for a "proper" design firm or ad agency to do the marketing materials. Print up some leave-behinds of your work with a fee card, link to full portfolio online your contact info, and go knock on doors. Flash a smile, make notes after visits of names and potential needs, and follow up. See if you can generate some project work around town. It may feel strange at first but it will make you better at presenting to clients when you're back to work full-time again. Additionally, you will be adding to your portfolio and have more say in the work than perhaps a client like AT&T would give you. As a side benefit, you'll be helping neighborhood businesses get through this tough time as well. In fact, looked at that way, you may even get into the pro bono spirit.

Having a skill you can sell is a leg-up in times like these. Truly - there's work out there, it just might be in unexpected places and you need to be willing to actually get out there and actively seek it out. Remember, in any economy, someone's making money.

*For non-designers, brainstorm with a friend about your skills and how they may be transferable to other endeavors. For example: Account people, Producers, Project Managers, Business Development gurus and Planners -- you can help people start new businesses! Copywriters can help people by editing proposals and business plans. Commercial real estate prices are going down enough to tempt many entrepreneurs out of the shadows. They need sales tools, they need to know how to frame their ideas, how to organize their vision and make it a reality, how to plan for and project manage opening a store... think about who's set up for success in this economy and reapply your skills. Necessity is the mother of all [re]invention!

**Everyone: Don't forget to make your intentions known on your linkedin status -- networking is always important but it is especially important when you're reshaping your skills and need as many leg-ups and connections as you can generate. Join groups. Let fellow alumni and former colleagues know what your doing. Don't be bashful; be bold! And remember to make it easy for people to know how to contact you!!!


Tip for the day #8: Education opens doors

A fantastic video done by a friend of mine and his company and it happens to segue very nicely into today's tip for the day: TFTD #8 = Education!

So you've been working for a while now in the "I can't believe they pay me to do this" industry we know as Advertising? Then chances are you have a Bachelor's Degree. So now what, you're done? Nope.

If you are out of work, spending day after day putting out feelers, engaging with your network to try to find another job, reading this blog and following all of our advice to the letter, you still probably have time to take a class or two. And you know what? You should.

Schools take credit cards and classes are a tax deduction. You could do a shift at Starbuck's once a week to cover the cost perhaps. Not that all of us would make great Baristas but you could walk dogs or feed cats or look after a neighbor's kid while she gets her nails done... The point is, there are creative ways to make money in any economy and that money can go towards enhancing your "value add."

Examples of Value Add include: Copywriters learning Content Strategy, Art Directors learning Flash or Web Production, Web Developers learning Video Editing, Print Designers learning Web Design, Information Architects learning User Experience, Account Services people learning Strategic Planning... it goes on! Education is king. Those little certificates you get at the end of the course will pay off... IF YOU MENTION THEM on your resume and in any online presence you have for professional networking. (See TFTD #4 for more on keywords and marketing your brand!)


Tip for the day #7 when applying for a job


Since we already know how easy it is to have a free, online, portfolio (see TPFD #2 if you don't) there is no reason you can't find 10 minutes every other week to post some new work. Like to go out for an afternoon Charbuck's? Just twice a month instead, make a cup of their new instant coffee at your desk and upload the latest work you've done onto your portfolio.

Why? Well, ask anyone who's been laid off after several years of service with not a clue how to begin the arduous task of getting a portfolio together. Getting laid-off is emotional enough without the overwhelming feeling of climbing Mt. Everest with nothing but your PJ's and a can of soup. So plan ahead. Live each day in advertising like it may be your last. Because it really might.

Afraid that having a public online portfolio will make your employer suspicious? In my mind, you're part of a community, you're keeping your ideas fresh by putting them out there, letting them be critiqued, admired. It's a place you keep your work collected and it makes them look better if/when clients go online to look up the team assigned to them. You're helping your employer look better - this is the modern world and if they want to claim (to clients) to be expert at it, you (the entire agency) need to show you're walking the talk. So, get that portfolio started and update it regularly. Always be prepared. Happy and working hard, but prepared.

*BTW: Don't put online/Web/interactive/digital samples in the "misc." or "other" or "various" or "whatnot" category. Think about it - if you were a digital marketing shop, would you refer to what you did as "miscellaneous"? It's insulting even to the integrated shops; online ad sales have been the last to be effected by this crazy economy -- hardly making them fodder for the "other" category. So raise up your interactive experience, keep "various" things limited to your extra-curricular activities like photography or drawing.


Tip for the day #6 when applying for a job

In dealing with (in-house or external) recruiters + hiring managers:

  • REMEMBER WHO you’ve talked to. Keep a running list, year after year, of the individuals and the companies where they work. Update it with new status and dates. You will only save yourself time and energy later and you'll have adoring (read: appreciative) fans on the recruiter side. (Clients will stop dealing with recruiters who send them candidates the clients already spoke to, so if you like your recruiter(s) don't risk their client relationships by making them look bad.)
  • "We will keep you on file" from a potential employer doesn't mean you can't check in after 8-12 weeks. For freelance and full-time, timing is everything -- you may just pop up in someone's in-box right when they found out they need you! So check in with them once in a while -- not too much of course, and be respectful of hints or direction from people like "don't call us, we'll call you" -- but where you can, keep that relationship alive. (Now would be a good time to re-read TFTD #5!)
  • *DON’T ARGUE when you get advice from recruiters. Instead be thankful they took the time to give you the feedback. Most won't. If you don't believe the advice, if you think you know better, take a poll. Ask a few more recruiters if they agree with the comments you received. Ask a former boss you know would be honest. Ask colleagues you commiserate with while hunting for a job. The point is, you are getting advice from someone who does this for a living and he/she probably has a good sense of what goes over well and what falls quickly out of consideration. Remember, no one gets paid NOT to get you a job, and no internal employee looks better for NOT finding the right candidates, so feedback is only ever meant to help you, be it from the employer or external recruiter.
  • Don't just take my word for it - here's the link to a CD's blog where he addresses the many pitfalls of job hunting:


Tip for the day #5 when applying for a job

Think like a salesperson!

Insurance Agents, Car Salesmen, Real Estate Agents, Mortgage Brokers. Think about it: GOOD salespeople do one thing particularly well - they always leave a business card with you. Even on your 5th meeting, you're getting a business card.

So, if you drop me another line in 8 weeks to check in about that job that was put on hold, think like a salesperson! Include that resume again, include ALL of your contact information, make it so I never have to dig around looking for a way to reach you, or remember why I'd want to. (Replying back to my reply to your first intro email helps refresh my memory better than a brand new email, so don't be afraid to do that. It doesn't look lazy, it looks like you have saved our correspondence because this job/company is something you really want to pursue.)

The easiest way to remember to always include the "business card" information is to create an automatic email SIGNATURE with your full name, title, portfolio site, phone + email. (sidenote: You score extra points when you include the "www." in the beginning of the portfolio address because then it arrives as a live link, no copying/pasting required on our end.)

*If you have a Linkedin profile, include that too! If you don't have one, create one today. Make sure it clearly spells out all you can do (see our post on "Value ADD + Skills"). Within the profile, you have the opportunity to include a website -- don't pass that up! Linkedin is an ideal place to post your portfolio link and/or blog. Employers do keyword searches on Linkedin and on search engines -- make sure you're getting as much coverage as possible by employing any and all relevant keywords/experience/skills.

It simply comes down to thinking like a salesperson.


Tip for the day #4 when applying for a job

So, what else can you do?

Besides highlighting your location (for work), your contact information, link to your online portfolio, dates & places of employment, your resume must touch upon 2 more things:
Value add + Skills.

These days employers and recruiters are sourcing online by doing keyword searches, so that's one reason to specify your skill set. Another one is simply, to get extra consideration for a job.
  • If you have experience working with Web, online, interactive, digital projects, tell us! And be specific; use as many of those words as apply to particular projects so you get picked up by various keywords.
  • If you are an Art Director who can do CSS, Flash, Javascript... any sort of extra "value-add" Web Dev, whatever, tell us.
  • If you have managed people, led teams, won accounts for your agency, tell us.
  • If you have worked in B2B, B2C, Automotive, Financial, Healthcare... tell us!
  • Anyone else I didn't cover, think about what people ask you in interviews or phonescreens - tell us the answers upfront so you get bumped to the top of the pile right off the bat.
Everyone, this is a resume we're talking about; it's exactly the place where you can and should toot that horn.

Tip for the day #3 when applying for a job

Hopefully you've read "Tip for the Day (a.k.a. TFTD) #2" before reading this one. If not, please do!

...Now that you've read it and have that online portfolio, some things to keep in mind (recruiters and hiring managers, feel free to add some comments):
  • No downloading required, please! Your work needs to be viewable without having to download individual images of each sample. If you are guilty of having this kind of site, you have just given the very busy Creative Director an excuse to check out the next person's book instead.
  • How do we know you can write if we can't read the text? Copywriters, please! We never expect that you have a gorgeous, flashy, hi-tech site. (Though if you use one of the sites I mentioned in TFTD #2, you'll have a nice looking one!) We simply expect the text within samples to be a legible size. Often when we are able to zoom in on the image, the text blurs. Since getting a hold of good sample files isn't always easy, this may be one of those times when sending a follow-up pdf "mini-book" is required. In that case, please have everything in one document, compressed or low-res, and if the text is too small to read, have the copy you wrote in a call-out boxes so we can read it. (Oh, that mini-book document you're sending should have your resume as the last page, a cover sheet with name, title and contact info as the front page.)


Tip for the day #2 when applying for a job

*Please note that when I use the phrase "we", "our", "us", it is by no means meant to create a rift between job seekers and employers -- this is not meant to come off as a "holier than thou" diatribe. On the contrary, the attempt here is to let job seekers inside the minds of those reviewing portfolios, to give them a better shot at making the best possible impression.*

There is no reason not to have an online portfolio these days.

The site you are on this very moment is one possible place to create an online portfolio; you can upload JPG files and have the freedom to do a little show and tell. Likewise carbonmade and behance exist so people can create free online portfolios. Those are just a few of the many sites that are free and easy to use. The days of sending discs that get lost or 17-meg files that get jammed up in cyberspace are over. (See LINKS section)

We understand many of you are busy being good at what you do. If you're a "passive" candidate, more allowances will be made. ("Passive" means we came to you, you didn't come knocking on our door.) However, it you are NOT a passive candidate, if you raised your hand asking for consideration, you really should hold off on doing that until you are a complete package ready for presentation, and that includes having an online portfolio.

For added assurances, don't forget to have that resume uploaded within that online portfolio, too! This way, in all future correspondence, you can simply sign off with your embedded email signature which should include name, title, phone, email, and portfolio url. Remember, the less anyone has to dig, the more likely you'll be contacted.


Tip for the day #1 when applying for a job

Who, What, When, Where, Why?

Yup, it's not just for journalism anymore! In ANY correspondence you make requesting that someone take the time to consider you for a job, don't play cat and mouse. Don't expect people to come to you for the most basic information. Don't just send an email saying simply you're an [insert title] and to "call with questions". (Yes, we've gotten these kinds of emails.) Instead, include a resume and *BRIEFLY* tell us who you are, what you do, where you live or are willing to move to, and why you think you would be a good fit for the company. (The "when" should be reflected in an attached resume as dates of employment, despite the fact that it might "look cleaner" without showing those pesky dates.)

Try to avoid making desperate pleas; this IS advertising after all and you are a brand, so show us how well you can create demand. Employers want the best in breed, what's hot, what the other guys want. They don't want merchandise from the clearance rack. So when you reach out to a Recruiter or Creative Director or Human Resources, avoid saying you "need help". When introducing yourself to perspective employers or recruiters, follow the guidelines in the first paragraph and let them know you're simply ready for a change.

Also very important, the resume AND the actual email should both have the link to your online portfolio. No one should need to ask how they can see your work and if you provide the information upfront, then they won't need to hunt for the link at a later date. Consider successful hotel chains -- you can't go 2 feet without some element of branding. And if it's allowed to leave the room, you know it has a website or a phone number on it. That way, they make it really easy to reach them, and to remember why you'd want to. So establish your brand and build on it.