Why You Didn’t Get The Job

Who knew that, with all the advances in technology, the process of getting a job would remain relatively unchanged? It really should have changed — a lot. But since I’ve been interviewing extensively lately, I thought I’d share a few simple tips that will help everyone from art directors to interns when they’re seeking employment.

First of all, proof your letter. Spell the name of the agency (and/or the recipient) correctly. When I’m trying to cut the overwhelming number of applications we receive down to a manageable few, a misspelled agency name is an easy mark. If you don’t pay attention to detail in your job search, you won’t do it in your job.

Don’t tell me what you’re “willing to do.” we’ve found this to be a common phrase among young candidates and it never fails to amaze me. “I’d be willing to do ad resizes;” “I’d be willing to catalogue photographs,” etc. Well, that’s good because it’s a large part of the job. Suggestion: “I’d LOVE to do resizes and catalogue photos.” In fact, “I’d LOVE to make copies, get coffee and run packages to Fed Ex,” would be a welcome change. You don’t get to have an attitude when you barely have a degree.

Don’t tell me what I can do for you. Tell me what YOU can do for ME. Most job applicants spend an inordinate amount of time telling us what they hope to glean from this job to further their careers and very little telling us what they can offer to make our agency better. It’s Marketing 101 to be able to speak effectively to your target audience. Make sure you present yourself in terms of what YOUR skills and abilities will do for the AGENCY.

Don’t tell me how talented you are. If you have talent, it will come through in your work. Speaking of. . .

Your work is all that matters. More than your letter. More than your resume. More than your personality. More than what you wear to the interview! All we want to see is your work. If you don’t have good work, you can’t hide that fact. But if you do, show it. I would far rather receive a single link to an awesome portfolio than dig through a hundred letters that lead to nowhere. Every time I open a PDF or a digital portfolio, I feel like Willie Wonka in “Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” looking for that golden ticket. Your work will get you the job (or not). So mail it, email it, drop it off and, by all means, post it.

Anyone looking for a creative job should post work online for easy viewing. There are so many easy-to-upload sites these days, it’s ridiculous NOT to post your portfolio: CargoCollective.com, Behance.net, SquareSpace.com, CreativeHotlist.com, even WordPress. And, if you’re interviewing for web work and you don’t have your own website, shame on you. You don’t deserve a job. If your work is not online, you’re either not putting enough effort into it or you’re digitally archaic – so you probably can’t help us anyway.

Don’t ask about titles. If you’re concerned about your title, there’s a good chance you’re extremely insecure and/or immature. Red flags wave violently at the mere mention of the word. There are only two times in one’s life that titles matter: (1) when you’re fresh out of school and still silly enough to be competing with all your friends and (2) when you’re going to your class reunion and you’re still silly enough to be competing with all your friends. Occasion #2 should give you pause and inspire serious self-reflection.

Don’t ask about salary. If the interviewer doesn’t bring up salary, it’s because s/he is just not that interested yet. When I am serious about a candidate, I’ll bring it up – and usually on a second interview. No sense talking money with everyone who walks in the door. That’s just downright nosey.

Write a thank you note. Don’t send a quick email, but write a real, old-fashioned snail-mail “Thank You” note by hand. This shows that (a) you have some manners, (b) your penmanship is legible, and (c) you’re willing to put in the extra effort to make a good impression — which we’d like for you to do every day for our clients.

Lastly, don’t give up. Finding the right job is a lot like finding a life partner. It’s as much about running into each other at the right time in the right circumstances as it is about being truly compatible. Be persistent in follow ups – send an email or call after a week or two to remind us that you still exist. If we’re short staffed, that means we’re working twice as hard and are busier than usual. So don’t take it personally if we are slow to respond.

The important thing to remember is, we want that position filled as badly as you want to fill it. It just takes a little time to find the right fit.