Send your resume to: resumania –after you read this, of course.

As principal of an advertising, PR and Internet marketing agency, and in my previous positions, including “webmaster” roles, I’ve seen hundreds of resumes over the years. It surprises me to see the mistakes job-hunters make over and over again, especially mistakes that go against the advice of job-hunting books that have been available for decades. Here are a few tips that can help you get a job at Odato Marketing Group–and probably thousands of other regional agencies, too.

(1) Do your research: Know why you want to work there, what job you’re qualified to do and who the decision-maker is. Agency managers don’t have time to sift through your resume and find you a job. There are eight key roles in an agency: account service/strategy, copy writing, graphic design, public relations, Web development, media buying, new business development and administrative support, and several levels within each role. The skill sets are so different that it raises an immediate red flag if you don’t even know what department you want to join.

(2) Say it with flair: You’re a marketer, right? So why should you have the same cover letter as an accountant? It frustrates me when “marketers” send me a resume with no cover letter, no e-mail intro and an utterly unremarkable subject line. If your resume simply lists your previous employment and your responsibilities, throw it away and write a new one that shows your accomplishments (quantified, of course).

(3) Send it to the right person: Agency websites make it easy to blast your resume to hundreds of prospective employers–but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to do. Taking a moment to find out who’s who can help to differentiate you from the pack. Also, you should know that generic email addresses are typically viewed by multiple people within the agency, so if you don’t want your future colleagues to know you were once a duckpin setter in a bowling alley, send your resume only to the decision maker.

(4) Drop names: This is important. When an agency head hires you, he or she will be thinking about marketing your experience to clients. The clients will not typically see your entire resume. The brands you’ve touched in your professional career and the successes you’ve had with those brands become your most important credentials. Your “story” is what the agency sells.

(5) Be perfect: This should go without saying, but make sure your resume, cover letter and all correspondence are letter perfect. Typos can cost agency heads thousands of dollars, so they’re not eager to bring people with sloppy work into the shop. The materials you send have to be perfect, but that doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. Get someone to proofread for you, just like you’ll do in the agency if you get the job. Check the AP Stylebook if you’re unclear on anything.

(6) Sending your portfolio: I don’t recommend sending an unsolicited CD-ROM or any file attachment larger than 1-2 MB. It’s better to send a link to an online site where the decision-maker can see your work. Make sure the site you send them to is as perfect as your resume, with no typos or grammatical errors, and cross-browser compatible.

(7) Network, network, network: Join groups like the American Marketing Association, Advertising Federation or the FPRA, where you will meet people who can hire you or recommend you to someone who can. Get out there and introduce yourself to anyone who will listen. Tell them what you’re trying to accomplish.

BONUS TIP: Today’s agencies want to see your digital/social media skills, which require a combination of technical proficiency, succinct, yet compelling writing, a strong understanding of the cultural context of each medium, and the ability to exercise good judgement in knowing what to say and when. (Added in 2015)

Good luck!
–Rich

(c)2007 Odato Marketing Group. Article may be reprinted freely, provided that this copyright notice remains attached.