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How to Get Hired at an Agency (as Written by an H.R. Rep)

When I started working at PACIFIC, there were only six full-time employees in our office.

Written by Ivette Monroy
on 08.05.18

Nearly two years later, and there are almost 50 of us. We’ve been on a massive hiring spree, and as our office’s main recruiter, I see a lot of résumés pouring into PACIFIC (get it?!). Like a modern day Goldilocks, I’ve had to read through a lot of applications, weeding out those that are too personal from those that are vague, and hunting for the résumé that’s “just right.”

So to anyone looking to launch their career or simply needs a refresher on the basics, I’m here to share the do’s and don’ts of how to get hired at an agency (straight from the person who is sifting through résumés).

One résumé doesn’t rule them all…

Don’t:

Use the same résumé for every application. This should seem obvious but it’s a common mistake. Every job and employer is different, so how can you use one résumé to apply for multiple positions?

Do:

Tailor your résumé! Tweaking your résumé won’t take long and it will go a long ways. Revamping your résumé isn’t about being dishonest or exaggerating your experience. It’s about viewing your experience from a different angle to highlight skills that better fit the position you’re applying for. This simple step will maximize your effectiveness with applications.

Pro-Tip:

Review the job description, and go through the position’s requirements. Out of those requirements, see which ones you have any experience with and add them to your résumé. The recruiter will feel like you’re made for the job!

Cover your bases with cover letters

Don’t:

Submit a cover letter that only says that you’re interested in the gig they are offering. Of course you are! That’s why you’re applying.

Do:

Use your cover letter as a resource to answer any questions your résumé might leave unanswered. Tell a story about why you’re currently searching for a job, and why you’d think you’re a great fit for the role you’re applying for. Be as specific as possible and tie in how your skills directly apply to the job at hand.

Pro-Tip:

Your cover letter should explain things like a gap between jobs (family emergency? decided to take that dream vacation?), or why your address says Idaho, but you’re applying for a job in San Diego (not that anyone needs an excuse to move to San Diego ♥ ).

We see a lot of résumés from people who have two years of experience in their field but are applying for jobs that require a minimum of three to five years of experience. This alone could make recruiters automatically throw out your résumé and move on to the next. But if you explain in your cover letter that you held internships, did pro-bono work, and/or did freelance work to make up for the missing three years required, there’s a better chance of you being considered for the role.

Typos and formatting issues, and grammar problems, oh my!

Don’t:

Send a résumé out without having another set of eyes review it first. Employers and recruiters can sniff out typos and formatting issues a mile away. When you send out an unpolished piece, you’re begging recruiters to ask “How can I trust them with our enterprise-level clients if they can’t even send a résumé without misspelling ‘attention to detale’, or ‘prefectionist.’”

Do:

Ask a friend or two to give your résumé a good once over. And when selecting an editor, look for a friend who usually has a book attached to their hand (they are the Usain Bolt of spotting typos).

Pro-Tip:

You might feel like all of your hard work needs to be showcased to the employer, but your résumé shouldn’t be more than two (that’s 2…as in dos…as in 1+1= 2) pages long, period. Remember: You have your detailed cover letter to help you explain yourself more if need be. Also realize that not everyone works on the same edition of Microsoft Word, so sometimes formatting is lost in virtual translation (and it wasn’t even your fault). But if you save your résumé as a PDF, its formatting will be consistent no matter what type of computer it’s viewed on. PDF it, son!

To LinkedIn or Not to LinkedIn? (It shouldn’t even be a question!)

Don’t:

Underestimate the power of this platform. People sign up and leave their profile blank—big mistake if you’re in the professional world or trying to get into it, especially if you’re applying to work at an agency. This is a H.R. rep’s prime recruiting tool!

Do:

Keep your profile updated. This is your living, breathing résumé that is always accessible to any recruiter or potential employer. Add a profile picture, employers want to see who they’re reaching out to, and they will play Sherlock Holmes until they do so. Save yourself the embarrassment of them going full stalker mode on your Facebook until they find a suitable picture of you from a pool party in 2006, and post a current mug shot.

Pro-Tip:

List quantifiable achievements in addition to your job responsibilities. It’s much more marketable and will help future employers see how much you’re capable of. And when you accept a job, be sure to keep a record of the job description and use it to help you update your new position on your profile (this applies to your actual résumé as well). Boom, double tip.

Take some of the stress out of your job hunt by revitalizing your résumé and tailoring your cover letter to your specific role. As a recruiter, I can vouch that applicants stand out from the heap when they pay attention to these simple details. Happy job hunting, and may the recruiting odds be ever in your favor.