Whether you're just starting out in advertising or are a seasoned veteran, sizzling ad campaigns may excite you, but the thought of writing your own ad piece -- your resume -- may leave you lukewarm. In this competitive field, experts recommend improving your resume to get noticed for the most desirable positions. Follow these insider tips to get started, and see our sample resume for an advertising account executive.
Focus on Accomplishments
Brad Karsh, author of Confessions of a Recruiting Director: The Insider's Guide to Landing Your First Job, has reviewed 10,000-plus resumes in his 15 years as VP/director of talent acquisition for Leo Burnett, one of the world's largest advertising agencies.
"The single biggest mistake that ad people make is writing a job description resume as opposed to an accomplishment resume," he says. "I cannot tell you the number of times I'd see this entry for an account executive job: Worked closely with creative, media, production and client to produce fully integrated advertising campaigns." These tasks are part of every account executive's job description, Karsh explains.
"As a recruiting director, I want to know about your accomplishments," he adds. "How many ads did you produce, how much were your billings, did you win any awards, did you increase market share, profit, etc.?
Tami Tam, an executive recruiter with Fristoe & Carleton Executive Search and Recruiting, says industry pros should mention the accounts they've worked on. When we get a job order, our clients often want specific account experience, she explains.
This example illustrates how to integrate accounts into an accomplishment statement:
Served as primary copywriter on advertising campaigns for multimillion-dollar accounts, including ABC Company, DEF Company and GHI Company. Won multiple national awards, including prestigious Advertising Age award.
Target Your Resume
Advertising campaigns and job search campaigns have the same goal: To get attention through a clear message and benefits statement. Karsh advises job seekers to carefully read the job description and adjust their resumes to employer requirements. "A resume is just like an ad -- you want to target it to the audience," he says. "Find out what the company is looking for, and then match your skills up.
Adding a qualifications summary that includes your career goal is a great way to target your resume. Here's an example for a creative director:
Creative director with seven years of experience in both agency- and client-side communications for Fortune 500 retailers. Respected leader of creative teams, multimedia divisions and corporate communications departments. Expert in the technical, conceptual and content development of advertising campaigns that target desired audiences and articulate the merits of client products and services.
Pick the Right Format
A combination resume, which leads with a qualifications summary but also provides a reverse chronological employment history, is a good choice for most advertising professionals.
"I hate functional resumes," Karsh says. "I want to see a career path. I want to see what you did and where you did it as opposed to looking at skills and trying to match it up with your jobs.
Tam also recommends a chronological resume format, adding that some advertising pros try to get too creative with their resumes. "Don't make it look like (a) newspaper layout -- make it look like a resume," she says.
Karsh explains that professionals on the creative side can take more design risks than those on the business end. "Advertising creatives (art directors, copywriters, graphic designers) are going to be judged almost exclusively on their portfolio," he says. "Creatives do have the opportunity to have much more fun with their resumes. They can write it funny, design it cool and be much more irreverent. Business resumes should be straightforward.
Keywords are important industry buzzwords hiring managers often use to search resume databases. Tam's firm uses custom database software to manage resumes. "Keywords are vitally important, especially for industries worked in and key accounts worked on. For example, QSR, automotive, retail, etc.," she says.
Karsh suggests a well-written, accomplishment-driven resume need not include a special keyword section -- the terms can be integrated into the document. "Mostly they will be searching for titles (AE, account supervisor) or accounts/categories (beverages, packaged goods, Coke, Pepsi, Kellogg's, etc.)," he says.
Just as an advertising campaign needs to be perfect, so does your resume. Tam says one of the biggest mistakes advertising professionals make is sending out resumes containing typographical errors. "There's no excuse for typos with spell-check, yet we continue to see them -- and from executives, too," she says.