how-to-score-a-job-in-advertisingSo, you really love plaid, you can drink a craft beer with the perfect balance of ironic coolness, and you’ve got a notepad that you take everywhere filled with ideas on ideas on ideas. Let me guess – you want to get into advertising, yeah? That’s super rad, but first you need to hear this, young Don Draper: According to a report from 24/7 Wall St., the estimated number of advertising and promotions managers fell by almost two-thirds from 2002 to 2012.

Now before you go drinking away your sorrows at some bar I’ve surely never hear of, take Dan Lyons’ nuggets of wisdom over on the HubSpot blog. His perspective on this otherwise terrifying figure is vital for you to understand. Lyons doesn’t think jobs in advertising are coming back with an economic upturn. The game has changed too much to go back. We’re in a whole new age of marketing where “you need to think less about putting ads next to content and think more about creating the content itself.”

Can I get some snaps for Dan? #holla

If you’re ready to take on this new challenge, I’ve got four tips to get you ahead of your fellow plaid-wearing peers:

Produce content.

Content is vital to this new wave of marketing, and the industry needs people that not only understand this but can also produce quality content – on all platforms. The best way to show industry leaders you can do so? Do it for yourself.

Build a kick-ass Twitter profile. Get engaged on Instagram. Keep a blog. Understand your audience, whether that’s fellow advertising kiddos or cat-sweater obsessed twenty-somethings, and produce content that is unique and relevant to them.

By consistently producing your own content, you’re not only building your own supa-fly skills, but you’re also showing the professionals (i.e. the people that will hire you) what you’re capable of.

Go meet people (like actually meet people).

Connecting on LinkedIn is great. Sending some love to a Twitter handle is awfully nice. But let me tell you something: everybody can do that. The industry may be shifting, but putting yourself out there for real, in-person conversations is irreplaceable.

Don’t know where to start? Become a member of local advertising associations; they organize stellar networking events that get you offline and into the same room as other ad geeks. There’s never a guarantee that every connection will lead to a job offer (actually that is never true), but the more people you meet, the more good things will happen.

Looking for a network to access? If you’re in the Twin Cities, I love AdFed and Ad 2.

Read.

Again, the paradigm of marketing hasn’t introduced the necessity of information, but rather it has made industry knowledge even more important. The velocity of change is staggering, and in order to keep up with it, you need to learn – everyday.

This knowledge comes from investing in time to read. What are other people in the space doing and saying? What questions are still unanswered? In reading industry publications and news sources, you’ll not only be well informed but you’ll also be able to form your own thoughtful opinions.

That, my friends, gets you in the door. This industry needs smart people.

Do you.

In a final piece of advice, I suggest, simply and humbly, that you just do you. If you prefer to spend your evenings with a glass (or two) of gin and tonic learning about astrophysics – get after it. If you have a minor obsession with British boy bands – proudly wear your homemade fan-girl t-shirt. Or if you’ve got a bit of a gangsta side – rap that out… yo.

Embody who you are in all aspects of your job search – from the first inquiry to the interview to your acceptance (and then on the job, too!). Marketing folks love the weirdness and quirkiness, so take a nod from Mr. Wilde and just do you.

The suggestions above are what I’ve learned from both my own experience and speaking with other people in the industry. Have your own secret tips and tricks? Don’t be lame – let’s hear them!

DISCLAIMER: While I fully appreciate the gesture, this is not permission to wear a t-shirt with Harry Styles face ironed on it to an interview. Keep that in the closet until at least your second week.