Meghan, 27, is a content marketer at a tech start-up. When COVID-19 hit, her company switched gears and targeted a new customer base, which transformed Meghan’s role into territory that has her less engaged in her work. The pandemic also halted any opportunity for upward progression at the company, and she’s also feeling uncertain about the security of her role. So Meghan is now on the hunt for a new job.
Having worked for creative agencies before, Meghan would like to work in an agency environment again. “I really enjoy the ability to innovate and work on new projects all of the time,” Meghan writes. “Working with different clients on different campaigns was really exciting.” She has a variety of marketing skills, including copywriting, designing, social-media management and video marketing, and doesn’t want to pigeonhole herself into just one task. But in her next role, Meghan is seeking more responsibility and the opportunity to work on the strategic development of campaigns. “I’m seven years into my career now and would like to contribute to strategy and planning more significantly and move away from the more junior production roles (eg. developing a social-media strategy versus designing a graphic and posting it),” she writes.
Meghan says her dream position is to work as a creative director at an agency in five or 10 years' time. She’s also worried about having to take a pay cut to move from tech to an agency. “It’s not completely off the table, but I’m also underpaid for the tech industry, so there’s a chance that a junior position wouldn’t be that much of a reduction,” Meghan says. So we reached out to career coach Jennifer Cutajar of Clear The Noise Coaching and Sunil Sekhar, vice-president of human resources and Andrew Panturescu, senior strategist at the creative agency FCB to get advice for Meghan’s next steps.
What the career coach says
While Ms. Cutajar can see Meghan’s passion for her work in her résumé, she is concerned that the creative formatting may be too challenging for some recruiters to scan. “Statistically, people spend less than a minute reviewing a résumé, and having to jump around the page to review her experience may create confusion,” Ms. Cutajar says. “I would recommend that she reformats the layout of her résumé so that the reader can scan from top to bottom without having to jump around to see her work experience. The less work for the reader to understand her experience and transferable skills, the better.”
Meghan also employs creative headings such as “right now” for her current role and “the proof is in the pudding” for her education. Ms. Cutajar recommends that she ensure all her creative headers can be understood by a wider audience. “I would recommend updating ‘just then’ and ‘sell myself sharp’ to ensure the reader understands her intent and improve the flow of the résumé,” Ms. Cutajar says.
Within her job descriptions, Ms. Cutajar suggests that Meghan incorporate more results, showing how her efforts affected the businesses she worked at. “What did that effort result in for the business? Did it increase customer retention by a certain percentage? Did her new ideas drive an increase in traffic? By how much?” Ms. Cutajar asks. Including the answers to these questions will offer more impact in her résumé.
Finally, once Meghan reaches the interview stage, Ms. Cutajar recommends that she prepare a response as to why she’s searching for a new role while still in her current position. “You can remain positive and highlight that you are looking for additional areas of growth, experience and responsibility,” she suggests. And don’t forget to do your research on companies you’re interested in working for too. “Show how you’re aligned with the company’s values, mission, customers and work culture.”
What the industry expert says
While Mr. Sekhar applauds Meghan’s use of colour and graphics to break up sections, he worries that the content of her writing is too colloquial. For example, Meghan uses the term “stuff like” to describe a prior work experience. “The risk is that people will get turned off by that,” says Mr. Sekhar. He encourages Meghan to use her writing skills to sharpen up the content of her résumé while still keeping it creative.
Mr. Sekhar also recommends Meghan add more metrics and key performance indicators to her résumé. “I don’t think there’s a single metric demonstrating successes in her experience,” he says. “If she wants to become a strategist, measurement is very important.”
Mr. Panturescu notes that Meghan is currently seeking strategy roles but has her sights set on a creative-director role in the future. Since these two career paths are quite distinct in the agency environment, Meghan should decide now which to follow. “If her ultimate goal is to be a creative director, then she should focus on copywriting or find creative roles,” Mr. Panturescu. If Meghan doesn’t want to focus on just one task, she could look for roles at smaller agencies where employees are often asked to “wear multiple hats” instead of being confined to one creative output, such as graphic design or copywriting, which is more common at a larger agency.
For those seeking strategy roles, Mr. Panturescu says that portfolios aren’t as integral to landing a job. “In general, strategists often don’t think about showing off their work experience this way because we are not the ones creating the work,” he explains. But since Meghan has already put one together, it can be used as a tool during interviews. “Having something tangible to refer to when discussing subjective thoughts/opinions/ideas can demonstrate how your thinking came to life in the end and how you solved a problem in a different way,” says Mr. Panturescu.
If Meghan does want to create more supplementary items in her job search, Mr. Sekhar encourages Meghan to think of how she might sell herself as a product, and to what audience. “If someone she wants to work for is her audience, how would she create content to sell herself?” he asks. “It’s not necessarily a résumé. It could be a video, it could be a social post or could be an SEO campaign. She should use the tools she’s got to sell herself in the digital space.”
The new résumé
Overall, Meghan has updated the language and tone of her résumé to be more professional while maintaining her personality. Meghan has opted to keep the two-column format used in some sections of her résumé, but she’s edited her headings to use a combination of creative titles and traditional headings, which are easier to understand. She has also added bullet points to show the impact of her work, bolding accomplishments such as percentage improvements and highlighting projects of value.
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