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How to write creative applications for marketing and advertising graduate jobs

‘Creative applications’ are a way of showing off your skills to potential employers and hopefully making them take a longer look at your application.

Creative applications often receive a lot of attention in the press. For example there’s the job seeker who put a business card-sized CV under the wipers of every Aston Martin and Jaguar in The City. There have been countless video applications, and now interactive videos are cropping up too. There’s even the guys who have who booked billboards on busy routes. If you’ve heard about them, then their tactics worked, and you could learn something from them.

Why bother?

Research published in The Guardian UK 300 suggested that graduates in this sector can expect to be job hunting for an average of 6 months, or even longer. So if you feel that your applications aren’t getting the kind of replies you would like, this could be worth a try.

However, it is important to note that the success of a creative application is measured by the number of interview invitations you get, not by the number of job offers. Your level of charm, charisma and creative brilliance needs to be matched if you do meet the employers. It might be worth remembering that an interview is as much about you checking them out as the reverse.

Why you shouldn’t

Creative applications can be very hit-and-miss and while they might have novelty value, that isn’t always what an employer is looking for. Even high profile creative applications do not necessarily end in a job offer. The woman who started twittershouldhireme.com got an interview with Twitter, but wasn’t offered a job.

For any company with a regular entry route you should definitely think twice. These are, for all intents and purposes, speculative applications. Don’t let your contact reply with ‘you might like to apply to the vacancies in our “jobs” page’. This will show that you either haven’t done your research, or think you’re above the company’s rules.

How to do it if you do

Target
A critical part of putting together a creative application is about knowing who to aim at. Who is the lowest ranking person with the power to hire you? A bit of research here can go a long way. What’s more, you should seriously consider checking with the contact first to make sure it is ok to send it to them. After all, you want to make sure your gatekeeper has a sense of humour, and being primed to receive your application won’t ruin the surprise.

Concept
I’m sure I don’t have to tell someone who wants to work in advertising and marketing how to be creative. That said, it pays to be as original as possible. Your idea has to be unique. If it, or something similar, has been done before you could be accused of using someone else’s creativity. This misses the whole point of putting together a creative application. You really need to be thinking miles outside of the box.

Budget
While you shouldn’t let money be an obstacle to the job of your dreams, job seekers are probably more conscious of cash than most. With many concepts it may be possible to put together a fairly cheap solution. But if you want to convey the image that you don’t necessarily need the job – you just want it – a more expensive package might be a better bet.

Approach
The approach goes hand-in-hand with the concept. Don’t stalk the employer, and do not send gifts or freebies. If you come across as too passionate you will put them on the defensive. Think about the kind of reception you want to receive from your future colleagues on the first day of work. Finally, make sure all the usual information is clearly available. Include a contact detail and make sure your skills and experience are spelled out.

Test and refine
Before you go public, it’s worth checking with a control audience. Try showing your friends or family first. They should be able to help you spot any mistakes or flaws. If they are brutally honest they should also be able to tell you whether it would persuade them or not, and what your contact might make of it.

Release
Before you send your application, think carefully about who is going to see it. The applicant who sprayed perfume on his covering letter wanted to be sure that no-one opened it but the intended recipient. By contrast, applicants who have gone viral with their applications wanted to get the widest audience possible. A wide audience could even lead to interest from other companies.

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