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April 10, 2009
101 for Recent Grads
 
If you are a college senior preparing to graduate in May, The Steve Miller Band said it best, “Well, I been lookin’ real hard and I’m tryin’ to find a job but it just keeps gettin’ tougher everyday.” With a troubled economy and companies reducing staff, those without much work experience are finding it challenging to get that first job, especially in Advertising and Marketing. The good news is quality opportunities exist but they might not be exactly what you had in mind and may take a little longer to find. 
 
However, before you set off to find your place in the working world, you will need to review your resume. Your resume is your foot in the door but recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing it. Therefore, it is imperative your resume makes a lasting impression. You have probably heard this before, but here are some tips for your resume: 
  • Flow in chronological order
  • Do not exceed one page in length
  • Free of typos and grammatical errors
 
Review job postings for positions you are interested in and use the buzz words in the posting throughout your resume to help potential employers draw a correlation. Since you are looking to enter a creative space, be creative with your approach towards employers. For example, send your resume in a package that incorporates the company colors or vision. Your resume is your sales pitch!
 
The next step is to start your search for potential employers. You most likely know a few companies that you would like to apply to. Do you know anyone that currently works there? Reach out to your contacts. This can include alumni groups, friends of your parents and networking through social media sites such as LinkedIn. Never underestimate the power of your network and always look for ways to expand it.
 
The economic climate requires thinking outside the box when it comes to your search.   Have you ever considered a pursuing a path in Experiential Marketing, Promotional Marketing, Digital Advertising or Shopper Marketing? All of these are growing forms of advertising and marketing that may not be as well known as traditional advertising.  Search the internet for additional information and sign up for industry publications to stay ahead. You will be continuing your education and keeping up with the ever changing market place by staying informed.
 
What happens when you are invited for an interview? It is critical to research the company before you walk through the door.  As David Ogilvy said, “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals”.  Also be sure to practice with mock interviews prior to the interview. Practice makes perfect and will help you remain calm under pressure. When arriving for the interview, be punctual, dress professionally, and bring copies of your resume! 
 
Think of yourself as a brand. What makes you unique and sets you apart from the other interview candidates? During the interview remember: Sell your Brand! Answer questions with specific information and examples. The employer wants to know why you are the best candidate for the role. Do not be afraid to tell them.   
 
After each interview send a thank you note to each interviewer. It is appropriate to send an email thank you note but it is also nice to follow up with a handwritten thank you. Regardless of whether or not you are interested in the role it is imperative that you send a thank you. You never know when you may run into someone you interviewed with in the past. Your first impression is just as important as your last!
 
In the event that you have followed this guideline and still have not found a job, there are still options available. One way to gain additional experience is through an internship, even after graduation. Another alternative is to look for freelance or temporary work. In this economic climate, companies may not be able to bring you on as a full-time hire or may only have project work available. Taking advantage of this environment allows you a test run at the agency and gives you an opportunity to prove yourself. Any opportunity for you to gain work experience at this time, even if it is not directly related to your ideal position, will be to your benefit.
 
Once you land the job how do you keep it? In these times, it is more important than ever to become the employee your company cannot live without. Set yourself apart from the crowd by offering to take on extra projects or by volunteering to stay late to assist with a crucial pitch.  The people who dig their heels in and churn out high quality work in hard times are the first to be rewarded when things start to turn the corner. However, it is important that you allow time to develop skills, learn from managers and gain trust. You did not finish college in one year; do not expect to be promoted in one year. 
 
For seniors this is by far and away one of the toughest years to graduate and enter the workforce. Through creativity, determination and hard work you will land something. It might not be the job of your dreams, but you will be building your brand. Use this chance to build your brand with the knowledge that is passed on to you. It is yours to choose what you will do with it! 

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As the Human Resources generalist at OgilvyAction and Ogilvy in Chicago, Lauren Loeb is responsible for HR support of the Chicago and Experiential offices including strategic staffing, employee relations, performance management and special projects. She has more than five years of experience, is PHR certified, and is a current member of SHRM.

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