The New Guys Get Best Experience from the Little Guys

So check it. Last Sunday, I read an awesome story in The Birmingham News by Dawn Kent. The headline: Mad Men South. The story gave job-searching, Birmingham-area creatives reason to celebrate, especially social media and new/young professionals. While the Mad Men South story highlighted the expansion of the medium- to large-sized agencies, it didn’t mention anything about small agencies. It’s been my experience that the little guys can offer the best work experience for us new guys. Here’s why:

  • at agencies with a staff of 1-20-something, even the the recent grad plays an important part in flow of everyday business.
  • projects move more quickly at a smaller agency.
  • when you work directly with veterans of the industry, you get the added benefit of their experience.
  • everyone’s ideas are heard and that means your good ideas get to shine (probably the most beneficial).

The South as “Creative Oasis” isn’t too surprising. Georgia has SCAD, the quintessential art school; Portfolio Center for anyone interested in a specialized creative education; and Creative Circus with an awesome podcast and the most aggressive career services I’ve ever seen.

In Alabama, UAB’s PR program is one of the best in the nation. Head even further south and you have Auburn with incredible design programs of all kinds. Back in T-Town, UA has classes in fashion design and advertising.

Competition for these jobs will be fierce, I’m sure. And you won’t even get an interview unless you have a portfolio.

Anyway, it’s great to see the advertising and creative industries in Alabama get the recognition they deserve.



I’m a PR Student Bossman!!

I was featured on Mopwater + Media Notes. Check it out!!

PR Student Bossman Zackery Moore | Miller Littlejohn Media Group | Mopwater PR + Media Notes_1256945073449

WTF is an Amafessional?

Great. There’s another “word” to add to your webulary (web + vocabulary = webulary, get it?). The word is “amafessional.” So WTF is an amafessional?

Amafessional (n): amateurs that compete with professionals “in opportunity, talent, and ability to produce quality work.” See this post from the WSJ and the daily (ad) biz for more information.

Technology has been an amazing equalizer for creatives and opinionated word-wranglers. However, I believe that when anyone can call themselves a professional (insert profession), no one really is. There will have to be equilibrium; standards will be introduced, acronymic-professional organizations will spring-up and degrees will be required.


Use the generation gap to land your next job

While researching a project, I was lead to an artigen y blogcle that described challenges of a workforce full of generation gaps.  Reading about Gen Y was like reading a horoscope: insanely general in its description, but alarmingly correct.  I’m every bit a product of my generation, and that’s totally O.K.  Here are my tips on using the generation gaps to ace your next job interview:

1. Short-attention span: As I write this post, I’m flipping between browser tabs, watching a Harry Potter marathon and tweeting about it all.  Gen Y have developed short-attention spans because of our media consuming habits (first is was news-in-under-a-minute now it’s updates of less than 140 characters).  This is a plus, why?: Ours is a generation of multi-taskers.  In your next interview talk up your uncanny ability to switch between tasks at a moment’s notice.  Crises come-up, deadlines change, a reporter needs that fact sheet now.  Let your interviewer know that you can handle unexpected shifts in projects with ease.

2. Tech-savvy: We’ve logged hundreds of hours on Facebook and are often called on to sync older Generations’ iPods.  This is a plus, why?:  Our generation learns new technology easily, while knowing the in’s and out’s of current tech.  Plus, we know how to use the power of the internet to swiftly search for solutions to problems.  Let your interviewer know about how you’ve used technology to develop your career and professionalism.  Maybe you have a Linked-In profile or have started a blog.

3. We’re invincible and deserving: Refrigerators across America pay homage to A+ worthy algebra tests and tee ball trophies collect dust in unused bedrooms as shrines to Momma’s Boys and Daddy’s Girls.  Our parents loved us and we ate it up.  The unequivocal attention to our accomplishments (no matter how small) is a blessing and curse: Gen Y believe we’re as invincible as Superman, but our egos are as fragile as fancy china.  We believe we can do anything, but if we aren’t recognized for our results then we crumble.  This is a plus, why? Gen Y believe we can do anything so we’re unafraid to take some risks.  At the same time we thrive on recognition (and we believe we deserve it more than anyone else).  Let your interviewer know that you want to take on new projects and you are confident in your abilities.  The pitfall to avoid in this situation is earlier-mentioned ego.  Say something like, “I believe in offering recognition to my team members for achieving their goals and appreciate the same kind of feedback.”

Try to remember that each generation is different in your job interview.  You should read the article linked to above to learn more about the older generations’ way of working.


Freelancing? Don’t knock it ’til you try it

My heart goes out to the class of 2009. Four years of grueling academic work and (if you were smart) at least one internship all for a piece of paper that probably arrived in the mail and entrance into a world made difficult by the old folks. That piece of paper was suppose to be the job stork delivering a beautiful bouncing career with benefits (“Mazel tov, it’s an Account Executive!”). But for many it’s just a reminder that soon those loan payments are going to be due.student in class

So what’s a young person to do now that they have a degree? Well…. you could make a very expensive paper airplane to fly around your room while you wait for a phone call about an interview you’re sure to get from all those resumes and carefully crafted cover-letters you sent out last week. Or you could take your life into your own hands and go freelance.

Being a freelancer can be scary, but once you get started it’s not so bad. There are so many questions: how much do I charge, am I good enough, how do I find projects, who hires freelance, etc.

What makes me such an expert? I’m not claiming to be an expert (I actually hate to hear people call themselves experts, gurus or mavens of anything), but what I am doing is telling you what worked for me. I’ve been a freelancer for three+ years now. At first I struggled so hard… so very hard. I interned repeatedly, worked for free too often and even had a couple clients refuse to pay me (get a contract before you do anything!). But I was getting experience the whole time.

That’s why I’ve have three job opportunities since February. Now I’m working as a full-time freelancer doing projects I love with the most awesome clients I could hope for. I partnered with the agency (<—these people are AWESOME) I interned with last semester for academic credit. Now I’m working freelance for them to bring in new projects while working on my own clients. And unfortunately many of my peers that graduated this month are having a hard time just getting interviews.

Freelancing is more than a career choice
…it’s a lifestyle at the very least. You can’t just do it. You have to commit to making freelancing work for you by living, eating and breathing the work you do. In a traditional career, the clock stops at 5. In freelancing the clock never really stops. The upside is a tremendous amount of freedom: work from anywhere that allows you to be connected, take a nap in the middle of the day or even have a conference call in your underwear (I don’t advise that over a video conference).

It’s about the niche
Getting a regular career means being a specialist of something, but as a freelancer it’s even more important to have a specific specialty, otherwise known as a niche. My niche has slowly evolved over the three years I’ve been doing it, but now I’m comfortably positioned as a freelance publicist and social media strategist (I tell a client’s story on and off-line while building a community and conversation on the web around their brand by strategically choosing the tactics to accomplish their goals).

Don’t stop learning just because you’re out of school
If you thought learning was over after graduation you’re wrong. Getting started as a freelancer requires so much research into pricing, trends in your niche, possible business models and many other things. You’re competing with businesses and other freelancers for work, so it’s even more important for you to be well educated about your industry and your client’s industry. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you think you know everything you need to know to be competitive. There’s always someone out there that can do it better than you and cheaper than you.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a freelancer forever. This recession is starting to let up; unemployment rates aren’t as bad as they were. When the recession is over, people will hire again, others will be promoted and the world will go round. But your bills are due now and soon your loans will be. Don’t let an awesome opportunity to experience being your own boss, having freedom in your career and adding more skills to your resume pass you by out of doubt or fear. Freelancing… don’t knock it ’til you try it.

If you work at an agency, have you hired a freelancer instead of a new employee? What are you looking for in recent grads that are freelancers? Let students and graduates know in the comments.

And anyone that has advice, please share.


The Future is… NOOOOW

Cockpit Poser by PresleyJesus.Recently there’s been a rise of chattering about new roles within PR, advertising, branding and social-media agencies.  If you haven’t been overwhelmed with talk of how the pope’s tweets cure cancer, then maybe you’ve heard some of these new job titles.  Here are my favorite future PR roles that you can get now (and links to where I got them).

  1. Social media intern (this is what I’m doing now for school credit, I create Facebook & Twitter profiles, monitor online conversations, research, write and get coffee)
  2. Content strategist
  3. Social architect, semantic coders, mobile marketers & personal branding consultants
  4. Director of Community
  5. Social media strategist, manager, consultant, specialist & other.

My favorite title is social media strategist.  What’s yours?  Did I leave one out?

If you’re looking for social media job leads, check this out.  Earlier I wrote about salaries for communications pros pre-recession and I’m wondering what the pay is for these jobs.


P.S. I’ve seen stats about social media jobs growing in a recession, I’d love a few links.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

A List of 4 Links from my Mentor at GottaMentor

  1. Top 5 Recruiting Mistakes Smart People Make
  2. Using Social Media To Create Job Leads
  3. Don’t Let Your Online Profile Sabotage Your Job Prospects
  4. Why Your Elevator Pitch is So Important and How to NAIL IT!!