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June 19



I have been asked to provide 1000 (or so) words on career advice.  For a career in advertising.  Bound by 1000 words.  Sigh.  Tough assignment.  I could go on and on about what I’ve learned (in my own career, as well as from having the pleasure – yes, pleasure – of meeting literally hundreds of people in this industry).  Conversely, I could try to stretch out one single thought (“You should really, really, really, really, really, really have a very, very, very, very, very strong desire for the industry”), ala my old term papers for high school and college.

And beyond all the sage advice you’ve received on resume building, getting noticed, getting your foot in the door, etc., I wanted to delve deeper into the human side.

Ready?  Here we go…

Piece of advice, part one – Listening.  Ideally, we are a business of ideas and stories.  We are storytellers.  We are idea instigators.  Bottom line:  we communicate.  And communication is a decidedly two-way street.  Meaning; as well as creating and sharing those ideas and stories, we need to listen to them as well.  Listening.  Actually hearing what the other person has to say.  It can be tough, but so often a true kernel of wisdom comes through.  And that can change everything.

When you see that job posting, or hear of an open opportunity, mentally listen to what the company is seeking.  Hear what they require.  Craft your communication in such a way that shows you truly listened to their need.

When you get the opportunity to meet with recruiters or hiring managers, hear what they say.  Listen to how they speak of their company; hear what they say of their need.

The most impressive candidates I’ve had the good fortune to meet have been incredible listeners.  They hear what I have to say, they play back what they heard.  They hear what I have to say about our company, about the role, about the possibilities.  And from solid listening comes excellent questions.  Tells me a lot about you, those questions.  Tells me how well you’ve been listening and hearing what I have to say.

Piece of advice, part two – Passion.  I know, I know.  You hear that all the time.  But think about it.  Why would anyone want to hire someone who “sorta, kinda, maybe” wants to work with us?  Or in this industry?  The answer is – no one would want to hire someone with a “maybe” attitude.  You “sorta, kinda, maybe” want this industry?  Well then I “kinda, sorta, maybe” don’t want to hire you.  You’ve spent a number of years honing your craft, hours spent listening to experts in their fields discuss the plusses and minuses of this industry.  If they haven’t impassioned you (shame on them), you need to find it in yourself.  And that passion can be seen.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat across the table from a candidate who didn’t quite meet all our qualifications, but their passion was so incredibly self-evident.  I could almost smell it.  And I could definitely see it.  And those are the candidates that can be highest rated.  Job requirements can be taught.  Passion cannot.  You either love this business or you’re just looking to make a quick buck (in that case go into investment banking, real estate, or funeral services).  Your passion can be infectious.  It can make for a great interview.  And more importantly, make you remembered as someone who would be an ideal employee.

Piece of advice, part three – Recruiters (And I speak specifically of agency recruiters, as opposed to “outside” or independent recruiters.)  Recruiters are like butts.  Everyone has one and they all stwaitwrong analogy.  Recruiters are humans. That’s it!  We’re human.  And we’ve got a job to do.  But recruiters need to heed the same advice as candidates – listen and have a passion for what you do.  There are some incredibly awesome recruiters out there and there are some that should probably go work at the DMV.  Sorry.  It’s a fact of life.  How you navigate the two types is up to you.  Understanding the challenge that can lie ahead of them will earn you brownie points, as well as keep you sane.

Recruiters are tasked with juggling a lot of details – filling available positions with the absolutely best possible talent, dealing with a hiring manager that expects that role filled in 10 days (national average is 60 to 75 days), scheduling time with people who do not bother to update their Outlook calendars, screening hundreds of resumes, responding to those hundreds of people behind those hundreds of resumes and then negotiating salaries and benefits in order to bring that best possible talent into our company.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I know, poor me.  But I love it.  I love the opportunity to see the depth and breadth of supremely talented people hungry for an opportunity to work with us.  I love listening to what makes you tick.  What makes you passionate.  Talking about my company.  Screening resumes.  All of it.  It’s not easy, but it’s my job.

So keep in mind that those great recruiters WANT to meet you.  The smart ones realize they are connecting one human being with another.  They are helping introduce you as the next storyteller or idea instigator.  They are seeing the future growth of their company.  You can tell who they are when you meet with them.

In order to help keep them sane, go back to piece of advice #1 – listening.  Listen to what she or he is seeking within the job posting.  If they ask for someone with 8 years of ad agency experience and you are currently seeking an internship, please think twice (maybe even three times) about applying.

Haven’t heard back after applying?  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Hundreds of resumes can be daunting to review.  However – do not let them off the hook.  You can, respectfully, reach back out to them on a regular basis until you hear back.  But remember, there is a fine line between requiring feedback and stalking.  And any recruiter who is “bothered” by your respectful reaching out for response is probably someone from whom you pretty much don’t want to hear.  And quite possibly their company as well.

Hopefully you can delve into my future columns, discussing those “hard-to-find” bits of advice regarding “How to Scam a Free Lunch,” “Getting the Recruiter to Pop for the Coffee,” or (my fave) “Dressing Inappropriately for your First Interview.”

In all seriousness, thanks for listening, for your passion and for being willing to hear from this recruiter.


Originally from Chicago, Ed Huerta-Margotta and his husband moved up to Minneapolis in 2006.  He hasn’t looked back since.

In addition to recruiting for Carmichael Lynch, Ed chairs their D+I Committee – DIAL (Diversity Inclusion Action League), as well as being founder and current Co-Chair of IPG’s Twin Cities MERGE D+I Committee.

Ed’s involvement and focus with both gives him the opportunity to meet strong talent and enable diverse voices to be heard.  As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”