I've met a ton of folk over the last few years all looking to get into planning - either with a full-time position or as a paid placement. I was chatting with Michael who is our head of planning after an interview that he conducted last week with a wanna-be planner. There were some useful tips that came out of our conversation that I wanted to share. Many many seem like common sense but you'd be surprised how many times people just don't seem to have considered them.
- BE DIGITAL - or to be more precise - BE POST-DIGITAL: Most of you trying to get into the industry are young, at least 10 years younger than I am if not more. You guys grew up surrounded by digital technology. I wrote by uni essays with a fountain pen, never turned on a computer and had to sign up for time slots to use the public payphone. I want to be surprised and engaged by new stuff that you're excited about - maybe its specific sites, pieces of online content, technology platforms. It depresses me enormously when I seem to know more about the digital space than people I'm interviewing. We're living in a post-digital age, we need post-digital planners.
- KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE AGENCY: This should be the most common sense piece of advice that there is, but it is astonishing quite how little homework some candidates do. Try to find something thought provoking or another angle on work that the agency might have done. It's not enough to say (for example) "I really like the work that you did on Meerkat because its funny." What do you think that the insight was? How was this positioned Vs its competitors? What do you think the proposition/creative brief might have been? What might you do differently or where might you think about taking the campaign.
- USE YOUR EYES AND EARS DAILY: I often ask questions about everyday brands that I know that candidates will have come in contact with. Sometimes I'll ask about supermarket chains - as its a pretty good bet that most of us use them, have seen/heard some advertising, maybe gone to their website etc. I'll ask people about how they think they are are positioned in the marketplace - what kind of audience are they trying to attract, how is this demonstrated through advertising or in the in-store experience. Too many times I have been told "I've never worked on supermarket brands so I don't really know." You don't need to have worked on something to have an opinion.
- SHOW ME STUFF: Treat it like a show and tell. Maybe it's some form of advertising or club flyers or pictures of graffiti or some thoughts that you've been having about specific brands or a categories. It helps the interviewer to understand what excites and interests you and gives you a great springboard for smart conversation.
- BE CONVINCING: David Ogilvy once said "we sell or else...". An interview is your chance to sell yourself and to convince your interviewer that they should give you a job. If you can't sell yourself, what chance do you think you'll have in front of clients or agency colleagues selling a strategy, or a proposition or a creative idea. Why should the interviewer hire you - what's unique or different about you? What will you add? Maybe you've found out that they're working on 3 pitches in the next month and actually you're offering to simply be a spare pair of pitch hands (and every agency needs those!) Maybe there's a new client that you have a deep understanding of. Find that angle that will make you convincing and stand out.
And that's it really, 5 thoughts on how to get into the world of advertising. It is hard especially it seems at the moment, but then once you're in advertising its pretty hard too so you should probably get used to it. All the good people that I have met have ended up getting a job, it may have taken a bit of time but they all got there in the end.