The job market remains tight—in some places it’s downright awful. According to the International Labour Organization, world unemployment numbers could reach an all-time high this year.
In this difficult job market, landing the elusive dream job at a creative services agency can pose an even greater challenge. The abundant talent and experience in the career pool can make for a competitive hiring process. Undergraduates often wind up competing with graduate-level candidates for the same position.
Here are some tips to get your foot in the agency’s door and kick it wide open.
1. Research contacts at preferred agencies
Pick the top five agencies where you'd like to work. Determine which person can hire you at each of those agencies. Use every contact possible to get in front of that person; informational interviews are great opportunities to build your network. If possible, talk to other people who have interviewed with that person. What was he or she like? What kind of work did he or she respond to?
2. Revisit your portfolio
Take a hard look at your résumé. Then, take a harder look at your résumé. Does your experience reflect the kind of work that agency does? Does it reflect what that agency stands for? If it’s already doing your kind of work and there's a job available, why wouldn't the company hire you? Seek the opinions of current agency professionals. They can point to specifics and offer helpful suggestions; they might also know of a job opening.
3. Ask questions
When interviewing, be sure to ask relevant questions—it shows your interest and indicates that you’ve done your homework. Ask about a specific project that piqued your creative interest or about the office atmosphere. Such questions can help in your own decision-making process. You may find that the working environment is not what you expected or that the job doesn’t appeal to your interests. You don’t want to wind up in a job you’ll end up hating a few months down the line.
RELATED: 6 interview questions that will make any employer want to hire you
4. Be relentless
When at first you don’t succeed, keep in touch. There may not be a job for you at your dream agency at the moment, but stay in contact. Really. Not many people do that. Send a thank-you note, write emails, and follow the agency via social media channels. Don't forget, if you're new to the industry, you don't cost much. So if the hiring manager really likes you, he or she will take a chance. But if the company forgets you and there's a slot to fill, you're out.
John Farquhar is Rain 43’s partner and chief creative officer. Email John at firstname.lastname@example.org.