So you think you’re ready to tackle the wild, wild world of advertising copywriting. But are you really?
This is an increasingly competitive field, with thousands of college graduates vying for copywriting openings in ad agencies every year. It takes more than a stellar resume and an average portfolio to land an interview in today’s tough job market. This article will help you to grab the attention of Creative Directors nationwide. Take these tips to heart and you’ll be one step ahead in the job searching race.
If you have a college degree…
Congratulations. You’re already on your way to becoming a great writer. All those essays, written tests, and speeches have given you the basic skills you need for the ad world. Now is the time to hone your skills and become spectacular. Most Creative Directors seek out English and Journalism majors for copywriting positions, intrigued by their out of the box thinking and trained writing skills.
Advertising majors are in demand, but these folks are more likely to find work as Account Executives, or some other position outside the creative spectrum. If you fall into this category, don’t be dismayed. You have a great start in knowing the business basics, but bulk up your writing background and you’ll be ready to roll.
First thing’s first. You need a resume. And not just your average resume, either. You need something that stands apart from the crowd of resumes on your potential employer’s desk. Be careful not to make it too outrageous so that you seem silly. It’s your first impression, so you should turn the text into a clean, sophisticated expression of your creativity. Try different typefaces or colors, but be sure to print on a sturdy white stock paper.
The next tool in your opportunity arsenal should be your portfolio. Do you have any outside writing experience? Be sure to save everything creative you’ve ever published, from school paper articles to the advertising projects you’ve finished in your classes. Put a dozen of your best ideas in a big black book, organized by marketing discipline (print, direct mail, radio, etc.) or by-product campaign.
If you don’t have any samples, make them up! Pick a product in the marketplace and put together a marketing campaign consisting of print ads, radio spots, brochures, even packaging. Write a new tagline, headline and body copy for the product. Type these concepts up in the same typeface as your resume (to demonstrate your attention to detail) and organize them as above.
Networking is essential in this field. If you live near a major city, there should be an advertising association nearby. Look in the yellow pages or on the internet to find these clubs and call or email the president directly. He or she will be more than happy to talk to you about the industry and what it takes to get hired. Attend an open meeting. Perhaps you might even get a lead you can use to get your foot in the door.
If you don’t have a college degree…
There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that you can only move up. The bad news is that most ad agencies today don’t accept candidates without degrees. If you don’t have the time or the cash for a full-on bachelor’s degree, look into specialty degree options. Many major cities have art or technical schools that offer a copywriting program concentrating on all the skills you need to get into your agency groove.
Take any position you can get at first, even if it means slinging coffee and donuts as an intern. This is the best way to get to know the industry. Keep your ears open as you walk through the office and learn from others. Plus, you’ll start your own in house network of agency veterans who are always in the know of open opportunities in the city. You never know where this can lead.
Finally, the best thing you can do is research this industry to be sure that its something you want to do. Contrary to popular belief, working in an ad agency isn’t Melrose Place glamour or hours of creative playtime. You will be a slave to the mighty deadline and your hours are largely based on client needs, which sometimes means long days. You may be subject to seek out inspiration in boring products. Be prepared to work under pressure regularly without fail or burnout.
With that being said, good luck! There are plenty of benefits to being a writer in advertising. Above-average pay, a creative, casual working environment and a newfound appreciation for commercials are some of the perks. Now get out there and go find more for yourself!With that being said