Getting your dream job at a digital agency here in Sydney can be a tricky business. There is a much touted ‘skills gap’ in the city. The constant rumours of an insufficient pool of talent make it sound deceptively easy to land yourself a job. But, even if you are the most suited to the position and have the most relevant experience, you are still up against a vast number of people applying for the same role and you need to stand out.
Here at Adrenalin we receive job applications on a daily basis so we asked our General Manager, Vicky Lalwani, who oversees recruitment to share some of his experience and tops tips for people looking to work at a digital agency.
When applying: Do…
Have a clear CV
Ensure you have a PDF copy of your CV that is clearly laid out. This is a simple structure to follow:
- Section 1: A concise paragraph that introduces yourself summarising your key skills and career highlights
- Section 2: List your recent experience including your title, length of employment and a set of 6-8 bullet points listing responsibilities and 2-3 bullet points listing achievements
- Section 3: Finally end with your education
Be clear on your visa status, especially if your recent experience was gained outside of Australia. Also make sure your email address is professional, not something like firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s definitely not a good look.
And please don’t end off your CV with “Referees on request” – we get it.
Have a well-defined LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is the most widely used professional social network in the world with over 450 million users. Gone are the days when it’s a relevant question to ask why you should be a member. When you are populating your profile here are some top tips:
- Include a professional headshot
- Use the same or similar summary as you have at the top of your CV
- Ensure your dates of employment are accurate and correlate with the information on your CV
- Provide detail on what you did in your role, your responsibilities and achievements and include additional media where relevant e.g. videos, slideshares or create projects to showcase campaigns or projects you worked on
- Connect with as many people you know in a professional sense as possible
- Fill out as much information as you can, the more you provide, the better sense the recruiter has of you, your experience and your personality. But, remember this is not Facebook, ensure your language and portrayal of yourself is professional and accurate at all times.
- Double and then triple check your spelling and grammar
I search all candidates on LinkedIn
I use it to see who else they know, what recommendations they got and also that their CV matches their online profile.
Apply if you just like the title of the role
Sometimes it can be tempting to apply for roles that sound really good or something you think you might be able to do just based on the job title. But read past the title, study the description, the responsibilities and the structure and culture of the company. Research who you will be working with and how many other people are on that team.
if you blow your chance on a role that you are not a good fit for, we remember you when you apply for another role.
Read the job ad twice, three times, and make sure you are certain that this is a role that you can do and are a good fit for. Because, as with most companies, you get one shot.
Apply for every job at the agency
Just because you want to get into a particular agency, applying for every position they advertise is not the way. Rather than showing interest it suggests that you are not sure of your skills and are trying the scatter-gun approach.
There is actually a guy who has applied to every role the agency has put on Seek and LinkedIn – and I mean every role!
Preparing for the interview
It sounds obvious but, read about the company. Read their recent news, their blog, stalk them on social – have you looked beyond LinkedIn and followed them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter? Understand the services they offer and which clients they have. Look at case studies and any write-ups they’ve had in industry publications. Look at the awards they have won and what they won them for. Find out about the size of the team and the structure. How long have they been operating? Is the founder still involved in the day-to-day running of the company? I’m not saying that this needs to be done for the interview necessarily – however, this is a company you are going to be dedicating part of your life to, so make sure you research about them and are 100% keen to work with them.
Generally speaking agencies have a much more relaxed dress code than corporate office environments. Interviewers are looking to see your personality and your ability to look professional but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to wear a suit. We like it when a candidate has seen our social page and got a feel for what our culture is like then mimics this in the interview (professionally) to give us an idea for how they fit in. This includes the way people dress for an interview.
Prepare questions to ask the interviewer
You know that question is coming ‘do you have any questions?’ so make sure they are good ones, not “What’s your favourite book?” An interview session is a two way conversation – the candidate should use the opportunity to make sure the company they are interviewing at is the one that they want to work with in the long run and that the company can support their career goals. Speaking of which - have a career goal in mind – the interviewer is likely to ask about your goals, where you see yourself in a few years. Make sure you have given this some thought.
I love candidates who talk about their ambitious goals
To me this demonstrates vision and passion.
The interview: Do…
Be on time
It’s a timeless piece of advice (sorry). But really, there’s not a worse first impression than someone turning up late to their own interview. Leave yourself plenty of time and aim to arrive at least 5-10 mins early. If for whatever reason you are going to be late make sure you call the interviewer and let them know. A call is better than an email where possible.
Take the water
Generally speaking you will be offered a glass of water before your interview (if not, ask for one). Accept the offer! This helps calm nerves during the interview and can help you avoid that awkward nervous dry mouth situation.
If you left or are looking to leave your previous role, explain honestly why. If you were made redundant explain exactly why and the circumstances.
I don’t always necessarily buy “redundancy” as a reason.
If you were good, enjoyed your previous role and the employer knew how valuable you are, then they would retain you or at least make an offer to do so.
Sure, there may have been issues with insolvency, revenue challenges, financial loss, etc. and I get it, but explain these reasons instead of just saying “A few of us were made redundant”.
Remember you’re not the only one
You are not the only candidate in the interview process. So think to yourself"
What do I have that other candidates may not?
Think of your stengths specific to the requirements that the role demands. Write down those points, and make sure you find ways to bring them into the interview. Even if the question hasn’t been asked, you can always say “I have previously delivered complex enterprise projects that I have found very challenging, what sort of projects would this role be delivering?” – this prompts me to ask you more about those complex projects, which I may have otherwise forgotten.
Get hung up on qualifications
Vicky said: “For senior positions, I don’t give qualifications a lot of weight. I look for candidates who can demonstrate their ability to continually learn by highlighting their recent successes, failures and experiences – and then in turn talk about how these have changed their behaviours, attitudes, thought processes or ability to adapt. We work in an environment of constant change and a candidate’s attitude to continual learning and improvement is paramount to the success of the role. What a candidate may have learnt at University is great, and sure an A+ or HD is fantastic for the transcript, however that doesn’t necessarily translate to practical real commercial experiences – which to me are worth so much more.”
We also run a cognitive test as part of our behavioural profile and these give us a good insight into someone’s IQ and ability to solve tricky questions in a time sensitive scenario.
Go in without a salary in mind
Never walk into an interview without knowing what you are worth. Lots of candidates say they are flexible with salary, and that the experience is what matters to them, blah blah blah – rubbish, everyone has a number in their head, and you shouldn’t be afraid to say it. If you don’t have one, research and know what you are worth. Sure, it might mean that the agency may not be able to afford you, but at least you are not wasting everyone’s time (yours included).
Ask questions like
“How big is the company?” or “What clients do you work with?”
This tells me you haven’t researched us enough.
Tell me that you don’t have any weaknesses
Not only does everyone have weaknesses, but the purpose of this question is to find out whether you can recognise, admit and explain how you have or would like to improve. Saying you have no weaknesses only serves to make you appear underprepared at best and arrogant at worst. Don’t fall into the trap of “I’m too organised” or “I’m too much of a perfectionist” we see through those.
Talk too much
If you can answer a question within 1 to 2 mins, that’s great. What is even better, is to try make it conversational – I especially look for this in client facing staff.
I like someone who has a good sense of humour, or can make me laugh in an interview.
That shows me their non-serious side and also gives me an idea of how they would fit with our team and clients.
In most interviews I ask a candidate to tell me about themselves – and I don’t mean their recent 2 or 3 roles and what their responsibilities were etc. I ask them to tell me about who they are - where they were born, where they were raised, what they studied, and how did they get to where they are today. What I am looking for here is to see how good they are at telling a story – and what better story than one about themselves. I find that this does two things – for one, it puts them at ease at the start of our meeting. And secondly, I get an idea of their basic presentation skills, thought process, humour, and the experiences that mattered to them the most.
Head to our careers page if you are interested in applying for any of our current vacancies (you have a head start now you know all of our preferences and pet peeves!)