Get noticed for the right reasons.


I started my own advertising career in the media department of a worldwide agency.  I received my break into the business by happenstance: I was invited to an informational interview with a media director who agreed to give me a nice little tour and an explanation of what it is media people do.  The morning of my interview, that media director had to fire her coordinator for a single, grave mistake: she sent an sensitive email on her boss’s behalf, and accidentally copied all 500+ people in the company.  And at 5:30 pm that afternoon, there I stood in her doorway wearing my little navy suit, my hair combed, my lipstick fresh, and my gigantic and heavy leather briefcase, empty but for a single paper copy of my resume.  You’ll do, she said, and showed my to my new office.  She had a problem, and I appeared to be a viable solution.

A few years later, as a media planner in a different office of the same agency, I was given the assignment of managing the new intern.  She was young, she was inexperienced, and she was completely unprepared for working in a corporate environment.  She did not have a navy suit, nor did she even have combed hair.  She couldn’t perform basic office tasks on her own, and yet she was a senior in college majoring in marketing communications.   I had to teach her how to use the fax machine.  I knew we had a problem after she came to tell me it was broken, she believed, because when she put the paper in the slot and it pulled through, it just came back out the other side and didn’t actually go anywhere.  I also had to teach her how to use a mouse with a PC desktop, after I found her holding it up in her hand and pointing the thing at the monitor like a television remote.  She was so scared of senior management in the office that if someone besides me spoke directly to her, she would yelp and begin to cry. 

Needless to say, I don’t think she ended up pursuing a career in a corporate environment.  She got the lucky position of serving as our intern not because she had the right professional skills, or even the right presentation, but because she was available, we were swamped, and the agency didn’t want to pay to hire a temporary staffer.  So we got an intern.   We had a problem, we thought we had a solution, but in the end we got what we paid for.

Fast forward to today, as a recruiter in the advertising industry, and people are always asking me, what will get me noticed?  The truth is, its all about timing.  Its about being in the right place, at the right time.  Its about having your resume updated and ready to go.  Its about being open and aware of what’s happening in the marketplace, even if you love your job and are inherently happy there.  Its about how well you present your own skills, how you market yourself.  And its about doing what you’re hired to do: solve problems.

You get noticed for your presentation.  In advertising, that presentation can be anything from full coat and tie business attire, to office casual khakis, to t-shirt and jeans.  If a company gives you specific information ahead of time, such as “We wear jeans here,” then go casual, otherwise its an obvious snub to their culture, and advertising people are extremely protective of their culture. 

More than the dress-code, however, is confidence and poise.  Even if you make a dress-code faux pas, just own it.  Take off your tie and make a self-deprecating joke about it.  If you’re under-dressed, apologize and explain right off the bat that you came directly from your own office of clothing slackers and any effort to clean yourself up would have been noticed by the peanut gallery.  Creative Directors get away with walking around in T-shirts and sandals because they carry it off, with confidence.  Also it plays into the stereotype.  But even in that scenario, if you aren’t doing the job, companies are less inclined to let you get away with pushing the rules.

Bottom line: you need to find out ahead of time what that company’s definition of attire is.  Then go in prepared, confident, and poised.  You also need to comb your hair.  Turn off your cellphone ringer.  And if I am the first person to tell you not to smoke, chew gum (or anything else) or answer your cellphone during an interview, then I can’t help you.

But the real bottom line is once the stars align, the timing is perfect, your skills are a match and the job is yours, then do the job, and do it well.  That gets you the best notice of all.


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2 Responses to “Get noticed for the right reasons.”

  1. Vocation HITCH-HIKING™ « Be the One. Find the One. Says:

    […] much about that myself, as I’ve already detailed my own accidental fall into the industry, here.  Sure, lots of people enter college, take an ad/copy/layout class which really turns them on, and […]

  2. Tysons F. Gautreaux Says:

    hi,good jeans in your post,I love that beautiful jeans,I need to find one for me,bill

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