Monday, 15 October 2007

This Mad Season

I feel stupid, but I know it won't last for long,
And I've been guessing, and I coulda been guessing wrong,
You don't know me now, I kinda thought that you should somehow,
Does that whole Mad Season got you down?

The first verse of Matchbox Twenty's song Mad Season sums up how I feel right now having ploughed through a variety of agency graduate recruitment applications over the last week or so.

I personally get into a groove with these things and find I can get them done in quick succession if I'm in the mood, but then if I'm not it's useless even opening them up because questions like 'How to sell coal to an eskimo' bounce around the inside of my head and exit rapidly.

And what I and the rest of the guys all agree on is that one of the most important things you can do when filling out these applications is to let your personality shine through. Now that is infinitely easier said than done I agree, but it's crucial to you getting noticed in the piles of applications that will cross any given agency's desk.

So how do you do it? There's no magical silver bullet I'm afraid; if there was someone would be filthy-rich by now by patenting it, so it boils down to this: be you. Personality is something unique to you so don't try to find it in someone else. I would advise against typing 'How to sell coal to an Eskimo' into google and trying to use anything you find as the basis of your answer. To see how other's have attacked the question is of course, great to do. But your answer has to be all about you. Which is what will make you get an invitation to interview as well. So when it asks for your favorite song lyric think of your favorite song, why you like it and leave it all on the page (that's my way of saying that the more personal the answer the better). If you wear your heart on your sleeve in real life do the same on your form, and conversely don't try and be something you're not. Your application forms, CVs and all the rest of it should be extensions of yourself - recognisable as you.

Another thing that could be useful to keep in mind is that when faced with the blank spaces of application forms - especially the questions at the end (like 'is there anything else we should know about you?'), continuous prose may not be the best way to go about a particular question. I'm not saying do the whole thing in bullet points, but think about how to visually differentiate yourself within a written answer. Maybe do a flowchart, a mindmap, a cartoon, graffiti, a picture, maybe import a digital picture, maybe string a couple together to do a montage. Think of how you want to make it you. Graduate application forms should be something that you know you're ready to send off because you're happy you've indelibly stamped them with your personality. A friend should be able to read through your answers and know it's you who wrote it without seeing the name on the top of it.

The 'anything else' or 'use this box as you like' sections on applications are the best sections - they let you give the reader a flavor of what you're like, don't waste them.


Anonymous said...

Thank you!!!! this is such a useful site, you guys are wicked!

And thanks Sam for the advice on filling in forms!


Anonymous said...

It's funny because every time I read this, I thank the Lord above that advertising jobs DO let you be yourself while any other graduate jobs want you to be the "you" they'd like to see. Shit sucks.

Gordon Comstock said...

Christ, what utter bullshit. Ad Agencies are looking for a particular type of person as much as anyone. All that 'be yourself' and ironic unbridled creativity is about as useful as a cock on the pope.

Unknown said...

I'd have to disagree with you, Gordon. It's possible to still be yourself, whilst demonstrating the key traits they are looking for.

I think the point is also to be yourself, so that you don't end up at an agency where you won't fit in. If you don't get in, it's probably not a bad thing because you wouldn't enjoy your time there. Great post guys, thank you.

melissa said...

I keep getting stuck on the 'upload a picture that best describes you' question, what kind of picture do you upload?

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