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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

How to get into Advertising

I get a lot of emails asking me how I got into advertising. So I thought I would write a little bit about what I have learned in my 5 years in this industry. 

Linked In.
Get a Linked In account and update it to include everything you have done, places you have worked and get people to endorse you and write comments and recommendations about you. It's a valuable tool, and I can't tell you how useful it has been for me. 

Who do you know?

The way I got my job was by going to a bar for a drink with someone I didn't know that well (my hairdresser). I thought "sod it" and went for that drink. While I was out, I met a friend of hers who happened to work in the agency I work in now. Connections. If you have any, use them. If you don't have any, think who might have them. 

Once you have a lead, don't let go. 

After my drink, I sent my CV and an email to this lady who worked in advertising in London. She didn't respond. I waited, and waited. Instead of taking this silence as a "no" I called my hairdresser to get her to chase. I heard back with bad news - there were no jobs going. Instead of giving up then, I hounded her for any other names or people or contacts I could have to send my CV on to. She sent me a few names. 

Point being, people are busy at work. You need to get on their case and be the annoying one who just wont go away.

Be flexible.

Being busy myself with my job, I know what it's like to completely forget about a meeting you have, or have a deadline to work to. Cancellation of meetings and appointments happens. Don't be discouraged - just be around and on call whenever they snap their fingers. 

I had to come to London to have my interview, and when I got there the interview was cancelled. I had to go back to where I was staying and wait. I had a concert to go to, but when they called me at 7am asking if I could come in in half an hour I said yes. I was late for my concert, rushed and stressed, but I got there, and I got the job. 

Be realistic.

I would have loved to have a job near my friends and family. I lived in Chester. I had a decision to make - move to London and take the job, or stay where I was. I knew an opportunity like this wouldn't come along again so I took it. Sometimes we can't have it all, and we have to make sacrifices to get what we want. As it happens, 5 years on I have a great boyfriend and lots of friends here, so these things have a habit of turning out OK. 

Be willing. 

I started out as a Personal Assistant. This means getting coffee, photocopying and running errands. Be willing to get your hands dirty. It doesn't stop - as we move up, we all have to muck in, and the most popular people are the ones who don't mind pitching in and helping out when it gets busy. 


The best thing and worst thing about a company can be the people. They can help you out, or they can slow you down. A few smiles, coffees, favours and a sunny disposition goes a long way - your colleagues remember if you were the one who stepped in when they were in need. If you can help someone, do it. My Mum always used to say "be nice to those around you on the way up, because you'll meet them on the way down". I find the best way to peoples' hearts is to bake a batch of these bad boys

Have an opinion.
Read up about what is going on in the world of advertising. Look at Campaign or Marketing Week and of course watch TV to keep abreast of what's happening. You will learn as you go about process and how things work, but having something to say will get you noticed. Don't get too gobby though - no one likes a smart ass! Sometimes listening is the best tool too. 

Any other questions I'd be happy to help anyone who wants to know more! 

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  1. Fantastic advice Abby, this is going to land at least on of your followers a job somewhere down the line. I won a freelancing contract with a few hours ago by being an absolute hound on the phone! There's a fine line between people wanting to never speak to you again, and to hire you!