In my recent “How can I help you?" section I was asked about Getting Noticed.
As creatives we all want to be noticed, but all too often we try to get noticed without first considering a fundamental question:
"Who do you want to get noticed by?"
Without first answering this, it becomes very difficult to make your hard work pay off. An analogy I would often use it that someone’s energy is like fire, it’s only when you concentrate the flame in one place, like using a blowtorch, will it cut through anything. Your efforts need to be concentrated in one specific place if you are going to be effective.
For this article I will be focusing on getting noticed by someone within an agency or someone who could offer you a job. In other articles I’ll expand on how to get noticed by potential clients.
Be worth hiring
We all know the expression ‘You only get one chance to make a first impression’ and so you need to make sure that the impression you make, is a good one. It's worth taking the time to polish up the skills you need before you start trying to get the attention of someone who is in a position to offer you the job. There is are so many resources online for this, the main two I'd recommend looking at are Skillshare and CreativeLive - both of which are excellent.
Once you have polished up on your skills and you feel you have a strong portfolio, you’ll need to work out who you want to get to noticed by. The other thing that I should also mention at this stage is work ethic and speed of turnaround.
When my old creative partner and I were job hunting in the advertising industry, we would go on frequent portfolio ‘cries’ (critiques where your work would be torn apart on a regular basis). These were great as they gave us the opportunity to meet people in a position of power. If they liked us and our work, they could offer us a placement which would lead to a job if we were able to prove ourselves.
We were often asked to change current work or even create new work and then invited to come back to show it within a fortnight. It had to be new, interesting and exceptional. A fortnight might sound like a long time, but when you are looking at 3 advertising campaigns each with a minimum of 3 executions, whilst working part time or even on placement at another agency, then those qualities mentioned above ‘work ethic and speed of turnaround’ play a huge factor is getting this done and being noticed.
By being able to do what they asked of us, it not only showed that we are able to listen to instruction, but we were ambitious, passionate and had a tremendous work ethic.
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
If you want to be noticed by people who are in a position to get you a job then you need to be a bit more thoughtful in your approach. I was suggest the following:
- Pick out the top 3 places you would want to work for.
- Find out who is in a position of being able to offer your job within these companies.
- Look at what clients these companies have on their roster.
Once you know where you want to work, who you’ll be showing your work to and what their clients are, you can begin to tailor your portfolio so it is suited specifically to them. Create 3 pieces of work (campaigns in my case) for clients on their roster. Make them different to what they currently have, try and show an alternative and surprising solution to what they have already done. But never pick award winning ones. If they have won awards for a campaign already, then you’ll never beat that. Choose a forgotten or boring brand and show them how you could breathe new life into it.
During this time I would follow all of the people of influence within all three companies on twitter and Instagram and I would learn about who they are and what they like. It's important to observe and listen before you begin to engage with them.
After that I would tentatively have conversations around their interests without appearing to keen. Keep your distance or you’ll risk irritating them before you’ve even had the chance to show them your work.
Ask simple questions about advice for a aspiring designers, how do you get into the business etc. Nothing too intense or that demands long answers. While you are doing this create the spoke work specifically tailored for that person based around their interests and passions.
Make this work really, really, really good.
Once you’ve created something excellent, open a free account on RedBubble or Society6 and upload your work. Order something appropriate with your artwork on it and have it shipped to your house. Then when it arrives, wrap it up and arrange to hand deliver it to their office.
The next person to be aware of is their PA or secretary. They are there to provide a buffer between you and the person of influence. You need them on your side so be charming, polite and patient and ask to deliver the work in person. If this isn’t possible, then leave a hand written note and follow up with a phone call later in the week.
To show what I mean, here is some examples of the work I did Gary Vaynerchuk. I wasn’t after a job as such as he’s based in the US and I live in the UK, but I wanted to get noticed and I was. It’s only small but he replied to the Instagram posts and has since mentioned me on his Daily Vee show. (https://youtu.be/e7K4sax8oJ4?t=2m23s).
Here is the work I did initially - http://thadcox.co.uk/garyv which led to me doing this - https://www.instagram.com/p/8SWv14Oihy/?taken-by=thadcoxdesign which he did notice and commented on.
Once you get the meeting, you’ll be in a stronger position as they will be impressed by your effort, you’ll be able to hold a conversation as you’ll know about their interests and the agency they work for, plus your portfolio will be full of work that is relevant to the agency in question. If you have been working hard on your skills as mentioned previously then you will stand a better chance than most. If your work is good then they may invite you in for a work placement or internship or even better when a position opens up they might put you forward for a job.
However, if they don’t like your work and it isn’t good enough then this is good too. It gives you the opportunity to say “Can I come back in two weeks time and show you some new work?”. This is where the work ethic part comes in. It’s a chance to prove yourself.
Pass this test and you’ll be well on your way.
Once you’ve done this for your first choice agency, you now move onto agency number two and so on and so on. The more people you can impress and get noticed by, the better. Your name will get mentioned around the agency and within the industry as your reputation grows.
I know it’s hard, it took me and my partner over 2 years to finally land a proper job, but it was well worth it. We learned a huge amount along the way and it set us up with a stamina base and a level of relentlessness that I have drawn upon countless times in the years since.
Let me help you
I hope this is of some use if you’d like to contact me to review your work or help out in anyway, I’ll be more than happy to do so. Leave a comment below or send an email to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.