No, I’m not talking about “discouragement” or “lethargy”—I’m talking about a real person. “Enemy” might be a bit of a strong word, but this person is the number one factor that can stand in between you and getting an interview for the job of your dreams. Read on for the lowdown…
Today’s question comes from Kate S., who asks, “I’ve found a copywriting job I really want. What’s the best way to apply for it?”
Well, obviously, the first and most important thing is to make sure that your resume and your copywriting portfolio are up to snuff. If they’re looking for 10 years of experience and you’ve only got a year and half, or if they’re looking for experience writing websites and you’ve only ever done print, no application advice is going to fix that. Flesh out your portfolio with spec ads if you need to, but be sure you can show them at least most of what they’re looking for.
But just because you don’t have exactly what the job description is looking for doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not right for the job. For example, if they’re looking for three years’ ad agency experience and you haven’t work in an ad agency, but you’ve worked at an in-house agency that had multiple brands, tight deadlines and lots of branding work, you could still be a good fit.
And you might be able to convey that to a creative director, but there’s one person who stands in the way of you getting to him/her: the internal recruiter. The internal recruiter is the person who’s in charge of finding people to fill positions within a company, as well as fielding resumes from applicants and external recruiters.
Here’s why this person can pose such a problem for you: The internal recruiter generally doesn’t come from a creative background and is basing their applicant criteria on what the creative director has asked for. As such, they often aren’t able to recognize the potential within applicants who may be a good fit, but whose resumes don’t contain the few keywords that the creative director mentioned. If they don’t see those few keywords in your resume, they’re likely to never get in touch.
So what do you do? Eliminate the middle man! If you’re applying directly and not through an external recruitment agency, try to get your resume directly to the creative director. They’re not CIA agents; their contact information should be easy to find with a few Google searches or a phone call or two. Then, sell yourself in your cover letter, addressing the places that your resume doesn’t match the job description and explaining why you’re a perfect fit for the job!
Now, again, you want to make sure that you really are a good fit. The last thing you want to do is tick off a creative director by wasting his or her time with an application that is blatantly unqualified for a role. But if you are a good fit, you can save both yourself and the creative director time and energy by making yourself known. Put together a really top-notch, stand-out cover letter for your resume, and really use your copywriting skills to sell yourself.
Please don’t get me wrong: I’ve worked with a lot of internal recruiters, and some of them have been good at what they do. One of my favorite hires resulted from an internal recruiter insisting I speak with someone even though I was already intending to offer the role to someone else. As in any job, some internal recruiters can be sensational.
But when it’s your potential new job on the line, the direction of your career at stake, you don’t want to take the chance that you’re going to deal with a less-than-excellent internal recruiter. It’s your livelihood, after all. Take control of it!
Your turn! How do you make sure that you get interviews when you apply for jobs? Let us know in the comments below!