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  • Standing out from competition?

    Okay, please forgive me if I ramble a bit.

    I currently work at a graphic designer as an advertising agency. Honestly, I love my job even though it has its ups and downs. However, the one thing that is really pressuring me to find something new is that I am living in the same city where I was born and raised, went to college here, etc. Maybe that sounds like a silly reason to move on but I feel like I NEED a change of scenery. However, I do not want to sacrifice my needs/goals for any old job, and I donít want to take a step back in my career just to move to a bigger city.

    My dream city is Denver. But from my job search so far (I started back in June) I have learned that the market seems to be oversaturated with designers looking for advertising careers, especially with CU Boulder nearby. The job listings are few and far between, the ones that do have openings seem to constantly advertise to ďlocal residents only.Ē Iíve reached out via email to many of these agencies, typically get the same generic response that they donít have any openings and if they do they will be advertised on the website.

    There is one agency in particular that I would consider my ďdreamĒ agency. They are small, seem to have a similar company culture to the agency I currently work for, and work with the same type of clients based on what Iíve seen on their website. I reached out via email and got no response, so I decided to start a free LinkedIn premium trial so I could try to connect that way. I was able to find one of the associate creative directors on there, and his bio said that he is always looking for talent so I thought he would be the perfect person to reach out to. I think it was beneficial, we exchanged compliments on different projects we both had worked on, I asked if he had any insight on the market, and sent him my portfolio in the event any design positions opened up in the future.

    My question is, what are your thoughts on sending personalized portfolios to different companies as a self-promotion piece? I know there is the risk of it ending up in the garbage or never even being read, but I am curious if it is something that could make me stand out from the competition, or will it just look stalkerish? Iím not talking about a huge elaborate portfolio, but perhaps a small booklet or brochure, something that folds up and I could sneak my resume in there as well?

    Example: https://www.behance.net/gallery/4133...Self-Promotion

    One of my good designer friends always sent ďcare packagesĒ (aka leave behinds) after interviews and apparently a lot of the places she interviewed with thought it was an awesome idea.

    Idk, Iím just trying to think how I can possibly stand out in this sea of competition. Iíve gotten some really promising interviews, in some cases have gotten to interview 3 or 4, and then the rejection comes rolling in. Iíve gotten positive feedback on my portfolio, though I think I am just going to try to revamp all of my personal branding, including my website.

  • #2
    Hah! You're different from me in that I'd love to move away from the Denver-sized city where I'm living and back to the much smaller place where I grew up. The wife won't go for it, though.

    Anyway, there's absolutely nothing wrong with self-promotion. I mean, you're working at an ad agency, and what do ad agencies do? They help other companies promote themselves. So why should what you're already doing for others not work for yourself? That's especially true when promoting yourself to other ad agencies, in that they'll be the perfect target audience to appreciate a good pitch. With a bit of luck, they'll say to themselves, we like this person's work and we like the fact that this person knows how to use advertising and promotion to find a job. I mean, it just sort of all makes sense, right?

    That said, it's still a shot in the dark. When a company advertises they have an opening, it means they're looking for someone. If they're not putting out help-wanted ads, the chances are they don't need anyone. Even so, your self-promotion will put your name and your work in front of those people who might be considering staffing up a bit or who will be doing so down the road. If your work is really good, there just might be an agency out there that says to themselves, we ought to snag this person while we have a chance.

    Another thing to consider is that many agencies in a medium-sized city, like Denver, operate in a regional environment where most everyone in the business knows or is familiar with each other's work. There's a lot of informal networking relationships that develop and when jobs open up, it's those connections that make a whole lot of difference. Even if you don't live in the Denver area right now, it's going to do nothing but help your chances by inserting yourself into that network through your self-promotions, personal contacts, social media messaging, etc.

    The choices really are to sit back and wait while keeping your eyes open for available jobs or being proactive and looking for them. Bottom line: I think you've got a good plan.

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