Many new copywriters have dreams of working in an ad agency. But it seems like many ad agencies are only interested in hiring you if you already have agency experience. A bit of a Catch-22? Sure—but nothing you can’t overcome. Read on…
Today’s question comes from Ethan H. who asks, “I keep getting asked by recruiters and contacts I meet if I have agency experience. I don’t…but how can I answer that so that they won’t immediately dismiss me?”
The first thing to understand is that the agency experience question isn’t really about whether you’ve worked in an agency before. There’s no secret agency handshake or anything.
The question is really about whether you can keep up with the agency way of working.
Copywriters in ad agencies tend to work quickly and work well under pressure. Now, this can also be the case for copywriters who work at in-house agencies of course, but the general prejudice is still there.
Agency copywriters may also work on different types of work and create more high-level branding pieces and then translate those across campaigns. At the same time, too, some agency copywriters will help out with “pitch” work, which is the creative an agency puts together to try to land a new client.
So, when you get the “do you have agency experience” question is to answer all those other unspoken questions. You can tell that that you haven’t worked for an agency yet, but that you work quickly and you work well. Tell them about the way you write copy: How you concept your projects, how you collaborate with designers and how you craft your work.
Then, whenever possible, give them specific examples. “I work well under pressure” is much more powerful if you follow it up with a story about when you worked late to turn around copy in a short time frame and it saved the day.
Statements like “I write quickly” and “I like to work closely with designers” are your promises, but stories and examples to that effect are your proof. And you want to prove that they should hire you, right?
Now, of course, this tactic isn’t going to work in every situation. Some recruiters may have been instructed that they can only submit candidates with agency backgrounds, for example. But, eventually, it will work. And once it does, you’ll have your agency job—and your agency experience.
Your turn! How have you answered the “agency experience” question? Let us know in the comments below!