We have all heard it before. “You need experience to get experience.” Its a viscous cycle that throws unsuspecting graduates under the bus after graduating. So just how can a youngster expect to impress prospective employers in the advertising field?

1. If you aren’t completely passionate about it. Get out now.

You’ll learn quickly this is one of the first things agencies look for. Passion. Deciding to get into advertising because the offices look cool and the industry offers some nice perks is just going to leave you either jobless or miserable and overworked. The field is tough so make sure you are excited about your future career, because chance is, its going to be taking up a bit more than 40 hours out of your typical week. You should enjoy reading relevant articles, analyzing ads, and chatting about recent campaigns. Don’t try and fake it either, they will see right through it.

2. Network, network, network.

Yes I know, this ones a bit of a no-brainer, but it can’t be stressed enough. Who you know is just as important, if not almost more important than what you know, especially in advertising. With hundreds of applicants for each open position its almost imperative to have a connection in order to get your foot in the door. Go to networking events, make connections, and keep in touch. I was once told a good rule of thumb was you should be scheduling coffee meetings with different industry execs at least twice a month. This will not only keep you fresh in their mind and get your name circulating, but it can be really helpful in learning more about agencies which can help you prospect for jobs and gain a feel for their culture.

3. Over applying can hinder your chances.

While many of our parents, professors and mentors might tell us that things are tough and to get that resume circulated as much as possible, this might not be the best case for a securing a job within advertising. Try picking 5 agencies that truly inspire you and focus on creating contacts and immersing yourself in their work. Since you wont be filling out hundreds of applications you will have more time to put together a more creative, and focused application that will get you noticed. Copying and pasting from a cover letter template wont get you a job! Tailor it to each agency, use their website and work to try to get a feel for their personality and culture and try to portray that in your overall application.

4. Make yourself famous (Social Media).

Three of the post important things I can stress and tweeting, blogging and LinkedIn. Its gotten to the point where a twitter ID and blog link are appearing regularly on application forms. Not only will these tools help you network, but twitter can be a great source for jobs as well. Follow your local agencies and networking groups, you’ll be surprised at the great information and resources you’ll find! Tweet often and tweet relevant information, give people a reason to follow you and show that you truly do have an interest and passion for the industry. Taking it a step further and setting up a blog can be a huge advantage. Use it to showcase your writing skill and style. In addition use LinkedIn to connect with contacts you have made while networking. Its a professional way to stay in touch and find prospective contacts. The shared connection feature should be your new best friend. Don’t be shy, if you share a connection with a potential contact, ask your connection for an introduction!

5. Get involved.

You don’t have to be formally employed to gain experience. Get involved at Ad Clubs at your school, volunteer work to local networking groups (this is especially helpful for networking and building contacts), or even do some pro bono work for a local business. This will give you tangible proof to a potential employer that you are not only an independent self starter, but that you can produce quality work. Ask for feedback, a letter of recommendation for your client can work wonders! Also keep your eye out for start up agencies, although they usually can’t pay you they are often willing to bring in help and will provide you with the freedom to do work you’ll enjoy.

So now that you’ve read another blog about how to get a job, and it still doesn’t seem as easy as everyone makes it sound. Make it easy on yourself and do these 5 simplified steps by the end of the week.

  • Create a list of the 5 top agencies you want to work for.
  • Start a blog and twitter, have a post done this week.
  • Sign up for a networking group. And register for an event.
  • Ask to meet an industry professional for coffee.
  • Make a list of organizations you might be able to get involved with.

Don’t procrastinate. The sooner you start, the sooner you can realize some of this stuff is actually fun! Good luck, and don’t hesitate to ask for advice or help.