Want a job? Read this.

IMG_0283We currently have six job openings at Crowley Webb, including three in our creative department. But finding young, outstanding creative talent that’s a good fit for us can be a challenge. There are some great programs and strong candidates in our backyard, but this year we decided to look down the road, too. Last month, our team attended career fairs at both Syracuse University and RIT in an effort to find our next copywriter, designer, and UX developer. Since then, we’ve interviewed quite a few of the students we met, and it got me thinking just how important first impressions are – and how the smallest thing can sway a decision.Here are five simple things all candidates should always get right.

1. Your résumé is your first portfolio piece.
It’s always amazing to me that we find typos on résumés. Our CEO, Jim Hettich, is a stickler about this and will often dismiss a candidate because of typos or inconsistencies on résumés. No matter how smart or qualified you are, mistakes on your résumé give us the impression that you lack attention to detail, are sloppy, and simply don’t care. And the design and typography must be impeccable. If you can’t design a résumé, good luck with a website or an ad campaign. Even if you’re a writer, show you have visual sensibilities and get a designer friend to help.

2. Give a firm handshake and a look in the eye.
Believe it or not, a handshake says a lot about your maturity level. Sure, be yourself, but have some confidence and act like a grown-up. The simplest thing, like a “dead-fish handshake,” can instantly make me think you could be be wishy-washy. Is that someone I want to put in front of a client? Conviction is one of the most important traits you need to be successful in this business.

3. Stand out from the crowd.
hot-sauceWhat can you do to be the one interviewee we remember? Start by doing a little homework. Before the interview, spend at least five minutes on the agency’s website and then bring up something specific to your interviewers. “Hey, I like that one philosophy point on your website about fire lasting longer than fireworks.” Or just comment on a campaign you liked or a cultural aspect that caught your eye. It doesn’t have to be something crazy
and over the top, just something thoughtful.

4. Present your work like you mean it.
Having great work in your portfolio is a must, but presenting it well is what puts a candidate at the top of our list. Each project should be presented as if you’re talking to a client. Think of it as taking your cues from a mini-brief – know your objective, your audience, your message, and so on. Clear thinking, articulate language, and engaging delivery are all key. And just like with anything, practice will make you better at it.

5. Have a well-designed website.
There are enough web portfolio templates out there, so there’s no excuse to not have your own to showcase your work. It gives us a glimpse into how you approach UX and your understanding of the medium. Even if you’re a print designer or a writer, showing how you think digitally is valuable.

And after the interview (do I even need to tell you this?), make sure you follow up. Send a written thank-you note. A thoughtful email. An engaging direct mail piece. If you’re interested, make sure the agency you visited knows it. Good luck out there!