Tips for Starting a Career in Advertising

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Interested in a career in advertising? Advertising pros create paid ads for television, radio, print and online media and devise strategies for effectively targeting specific consumer groups who might purchase products or services. This work is carried out by advertising and media agencies on behalf of client organizations and also by internal marketing staff for their own organizations.

Jobs in Advertising

Jobs with ad agencies generally fall into the following categories:

Staff members of the Creative Department design the visual components of ads and write the copy of commercials, print ads and web sites. Creative assistant, copy assistant and design assistant are typical entry level roles. Artistic talent, creative thinking, writing skills documented by a portfolio are critical for candidates targeting these jobs.

The Media Department researches appropriate outlets for specific consumer targets, formulates plans to reach that audience at the right cost and buys time and space from media outlets. Assistant media planner, assistant media researcher or assistant media buyer are typical entry level roles. Analytical skills, quantitative ability and negotiating skills are valued by employers of media staff.

Staff members in Account Services interface clients and agency staff to help organize plans and satisfy clients. Account coordinators support the work of account executives at the entry level.

Finesse with people, communication skills, attention to detail, organizational and presentation skills are critical to success.

The Production Department is responsible for the physical creation of commercials and interactive ads. Production assistants support the work of producers and production managers in this creative process.

New hires must be detail oriented, resourceful,well organized and have a keen sense for visual communication.

Advertising Skills

Here's a list of the skills that employers seek when hiring for jobs in advertising. Highlight the skills you acquired during your studies, internships and jobs held during college in your cover letters, resume and job applications.

A - D

  • Analytical
  • Applying Ethical Principles to Advertising
  • Assessing the Impact of Ads
  • Attention to Detail
  • Collaboration
  • Conducting Situation Analyses for Products/Services
  • Creating Advertisements
  • Creating an Advertising Portfolio
  • Creative Thinking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Critiquing Advertisements
  • Critiquing Presentations
  • Decision Making
  • Designing Ads for the Web
  • Designing Market Research Studies
  • Designing Visual Elements for Ads
  • Developing Advertising Strategy

F - PO

  • Facilitating Group Discussion
  • Formulating Advertising Budgets
  • Generating Market Profiles
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Interpreting Viewer, Listener and Visitor Ratings Data
  • Multitasking
  • Organizational
  • Persuasive
  • Photoshop
  • Pitching Campaign Ideas to Team Members
  • PowerPoint

PR - Z

  • Presentation
  • Prioritizing
  • Problem Solving
  • Producing Ads for Television/Radio
  • Project Management
  • Receiving Constructive Criticism 
  • Recommending Media Mix for Campaigns
  • Social Media
  • Storytelling
  • Tailoring Communications for Different Audiences
  • Teamwork
  • Time Management
  • Verbal Communication
  • Writing Creative Copy
  • Writing Essays
  • Writing Research Papers

Tips for Starting a Career in Advertising

High school and college students can prepare for entry into the advertising field field by doing some or all of the following:

Develop a solid knowledge of marketing by taking classes that expose you to theories and strategies for marketing products and services.

Work for your school newspaper, magazine, or yearbook in the advertising department. You can take on roles which will give you experience designing/laying out ads, writing copy, securing advertising clients and devising ad options which meet their needs.

Create web pages and blogs regarding topics of interest. Utilize social media and other marketing techniques to promote your sites and enhance traffic.

Document your success in expanding your audience.

Take on publicity and promotion roles with student clubs and organizations. Devise and execute creative plans to increase attendance at events and expand club membership.

Enroll in advertising classes and seminars where you can develop campaigns for your portfolio. Students targeting the creative department should consider specialized ad schools like “Creative Circus” or “The Portfolio Center”.

Work for your campus TV or radio station where you can create and produce advertising. Often this will involve developing campaigns for public service spots for campus/community organizations.

Meet with advertising professionals for informational interviews to learn more about the field. Get recommendations for pros to target from guidance and career offices as well as family contacts.

Consider job shadowing any contacts with whom you develop a nice rapport during a school break.

Join advertising professional organizations that allow student membership. Network with members, attend student conferences and participate in student competitions (ask teachers and professors for recommendations).

Engage in as many internships as possible with local marketing, media or advertising firms. Most of these roles will be unpaid so consider coupling a part-time internship with a paid job.

By preparing in these ways you’ll distinguish yourself from the competition and lay the foundation for a rewarding career in advertising.

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