Whether you're just starting out in advertising or are a seasoned veteran, sizzling ad campaigns may excite you, but the thought of writing your own ad piece -- your resume -- may leave you lukewarm. In this competitive field, experts recommend improving your resume to get noticed for the most desirable positions. Follow these insider tips to get started, and see our sample resume for an advertising account executive.
Focus on Accomplishments
Brad Karsh, author of Confessions of a Recruiting Director: The Insider's Guide to Landing Your First Job, has reviewed 10,000-plus resumes in his 15 years as VP/director of talent acquisition for Leo Burnett, one of the world's largest advertising agencies.
"The single biggest mistake that ad people make is writing a job description resume as opposed to an accomplishment resume," he says. "I cannot tell you the number of times I'd see this entry for an account executive job: Worked closely with creative, media, production and client to produce fully integrated advertising campaigns." These tasks are part of every account executive's job description, Karsh explains.
"As a recruiting director, I want to know about your accomplishments," he adds. "How many ads did you produce, how much were your billings, did you win any awards, did you increase market share, profit, etc.?
Tami Tam, an executive recruiter with Fristoe & Carleton Executive Search and Recruiting, says industry pros should mention the accounts they've worked on. When we get a job order, our clients often want specific account experience, she explains.
This example illustrates how to integrate accounts into an accomplishment statement:
Served as primary copywriter on advertising campaigns for multimillion-dollar accounts, including ABC Company, DEF Company and GHI Company. Won multiple national awards, including prestigious Advertising Age award.
Target Your Resume
Advertising campaigns and job search campaigns have the same goal: To get attention through a clear message and benefits statement. Karsh advises job seekers to carefully read the job description and adjust their resumes to employer requirements. "A resume is just like an ad -- you want to target it to the audience," he says. "Find out what the company is looking for, and then match your skills up.
Adding a qualifications summary that includes your career goal is a great way to target your resume. Here's an example for a creative director:
Creative director with seven years of experience in both agency- and client-side communications for Fortune 500 retailers. Respected leader of creative teams, multimedia divisions and corporate communications departments. Expert in the technical, conceptual and content development of advertising campaigns that target desired audiences and articulate the merits of client products and services.
Pick the Right Format
A combination resume, which leads with a qualifications summary but also provides a reverse chronological employment history, is a good choice for most advertising professionals.
"I hate functional resumes," Karsh says. "I want to see a career path. I want to see what you did and where you did it as opposed to looking at skills and trying to match it up with your jobs.
Tam also recommends a chronological resume format, adding that some advertising pros try to get too creative with their resumes. "Don't make it look like (a) newspaper layout -- make it look like a resume," she says.
Karsh explains that professionals on the creative side can take more design risks than those on the business end. "Advertising creatives (art directors, copywriters, graphic designers) are going to be judged almost exclusively on their portfolio," he says. "Creatives do have the opportunity to have much more fun with their resumes. They can write it funny, design it cool and be much more irreverent. Business resumes should be straightforward.
Keywords are important industry buzzwords hiring managers often use to search resume databases. Tam's firm uses custom database software to manage resumes. "Keywords are vitally important, especially for industries worked in and key accounts worked on. For example, QSR, automotive, retail, etc.," she says.
Karsh suggests a well-written, accomplishment-driven resume need not include a special keyword section -- the terms can be integrated into the document. "Mostly they will be searching for titles (AE, account supervisor) or accounts/categories (beverages, packaged goods, Coke, Pepsi, Kellogg's, etc.)," he says.
Just as an advertising campaign needs to be perfect, so does your resume. Tam says one of the biggest mistakes advertising professionals make is sending out resumes containing typographical errors. "There's no excuse for typos with spell-check, yet we continue to see them -- and from executives, too," she says.
Learn more about advertising careers.
It is almost normal for a Nigerian company that has advertised a job vacancy to also at the time of requesting for your CV, ask for a cover letter and this often poses a great challenge to a lot of job seekers. How do you know which information to put down and how do you structure your cover letter to make it appear attractive, concise and interesting to read without compromising any information that should not or should be added? The basic question is to find out what the company would be interested in and is looking for. But how do I know what the company is interested in or looking for, you may ask? That shouldn’t be much of a concern as we will be explaining that to you below.
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What Are Companies Looking For in A Cover Letter?
There is this general misconception that a cover letter is difficult to write and this has discouraged a lot of people and made them to be evasive rather than give a try but this is not true at all – cover letters are not difficult to write provided you know what you are expected to do.
However, before setting out to write a cover letter, you have to note first that a cover letter is not an avenue to write a detailed explanation of your qualifications, in simple terms; a cover letter should be direct and as concise as possible.
When cover letters first appeared the 1950s, it was often the only chance applicants had to portray their personality, experience, or personal connections but these days, with your personality and identity everywhere online, you don’t need a 350-word cover letter simply tell an interviewer what your qualifications and communication skills are and with the right words, who knows, in no time, you might get a call for an interview.
The Basic Principle of Writing a Cover Letter
In general, how do you possibly appeal to the understanding of someone unknown to you for aid?
The approach is that of humility and confidence as though you are appealing against a lawsuit physically and it is the same principle that applies in a cover letter writing only that is occurs at the background of a formal letter.
A Cover letter should ideally have the following otherwise it becomes incomplete:
A) Applicant’s contact address and date which has to be on the top right-hand side of the letter.
B) The address of the addressee or the interviewer which would be a step below, on the
left-hand side of the writing sheet.
C) Write as though you are speaking, with humility but with confidence ensuring the use of good grammar.
D) Highlight what you want to do for the company and help the employer achieve. Do not show evidence of doubt on your capabilities while writing.
E) Explain to the employer why you are qualified for the position and why you
should be selected for the interview while on a closing note, you may highlight how working in such position would also help you build your career.
Beware of These common Mistakes In Cover Letter
- Don’t make the mistake of using the same cover letter for every single job
- Don’t make the cover letter all about – Inasmuch as you should talk briefly about your achievements, skills, and experience in a cover letter, be careful not to make it all about you, consider what your employer wants.
- Don’t emphasize on your weakness bearing in mind that no employer is interested in what you can’t do – they want to know what you can do.
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Sample of A Cover Letter For A Nigerian Company
65 Ojoyemuji Street,
2nd February 2013.
The Human Resource Director,
Human Resources Department,
APPLICATION FOR POST OF A FINANCE ANALYST
I, Ahmadu Njoku hereby apply for the above-mentioned position in your company as advertised in the ————-paper.
The opportunity this vacancy presents would enable me utilize my diverse experience as well as my educational qualifications in the past and present financial market to the greatest maximum.
My educational and overwhelming understanding of trends in the current financial market makes me a very suitable candidate for this position.
Some other skills I possess that make me eligible for this job include:
As requested, I hereby enclose my certifications, resume and three (3) references along with my application.
It is my earnest expectation that I get favorably replied and invited for an interview.