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August 29, 2016
It's Not What You Do But How You Do It That Gets the Job
Many that attempt to find a career in advertising know little of the complexities of getting into the best companies. A great portfolio of work is essential, but it isn’t enough to land the job. Here are a few skills to develop to make sure you are in the top tier of job candidates.
1. Professionalism: Soft skills are critical. If you possess excellent communication skills, work ethic, and team skills, you’ll improve your chances of landing a position. An online article on Human Resource Executive cited a McKinsey study that confirms that employers consider the skills more important than technical skills when hiring. The demonstration of professionalism begins from your first interaction with a potential employer. Everything you do must prove you are a professional. Since very little is being done to develop such professionalism in advertising arts programs it is up to you to learn and implement these skills.
2. Personal branding: A portfolio shows more than one’s creativity. It defines one’s profession. The more focused that description is, the more confident an employer is that the candidate can hit the ground running. If you are a strategic planner, you must show you understand the entire process and dimensions of planning through your portfolio. The same applies if you’re a digital designer or an art director or a writer. If you don’t know what you are, it is impossible to demonstrate that you are qualified. The assembly of assignments from school is not going to do the job. Take a look at the portfolio sites of professionals a few years older. That’s where yours must be from the beginning if you want to land the best jobs.
3. Plan your career years ahead. Every job you take determines your ability to get the next job. If your first jobs are with the wrong company, you learn the wrong things. Your professional work can easily be much poorer than your schoolwork. Even in a down economy, you can control the options you have by being the most attractive candidate. This means you have put in the necessary time and effort. It means you have researched those companies that are doing the best work and understand which ones will help you achieve your long-term career goals. Again, most academic entities do not provide this type of training or information.  It’s up to you.
A successful career path can hinge on factors outside your technical skill. The time it takes to master soft skills is minimal, when you consider the outcome: a job that allows you to achieve your highest potential.

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Bart Cleveland spent over 30 years helping grow brands like Coca-Cola, The Ritz-Carlton, and CNN. Now, he guides creative professionals to plan and execute successful careers through his business, Job Propulsion Lab℠. He also helps both agencies and marketers nurture customers into advocates through a relationship development program he calls, ACES℠. 
Bart launched Ad Age’s most popular blog, Small Agency Diary. He is also a contributing author of the book, The Get A Job Workshop, How To Find Your Way To A Creative Career In Advertising.

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