In a time of uncertainty with businesses closing, layoffs, and budget cuts – a less than genuine cover letter attached to a generic email that was seemingly sent to a dozen companies isn’t going to cut it.

Alright, let’s get right to the meat of this blog post. Your resume (and every form of digital representation) communicates your value to a potential employer.

Solving problems = value

If you ever take time to talk with a Human Resources Director or an individual in an internal recruitment / hiring position, you will understand the complexity that goes into hiring. Better yet, pre-covid, think of the foot traffic one encounters at a booth during a job fair. That’s essentially a physical representation of their email inbox littered with generic subject titles. What impression are you trying to leave?

Advertising is such a wide and varied career path but at the heart of every job function within the industry should be a desire to solve problems. My favorite description of advertising is ‘art with purpose.’ As you try to sell your skills to a potential employer, remember that they are in the business of solving problems and showing value to their clients. Find a way to show your employer the value you bring so that you can position yourself as an investment, not an expense.

I understand, you may have just graduated and on your hunt for your dream job. The challenge? How to communicate value, i.e., expertise or enough relatable experience that one concludes you have potential. The percentage sliders that say you are 89% proficient in Adobe Photoshop will ultimately be evaluated based on the quality of portfolio you have attached. I recommend a Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress site developed on a custom URL ( with content that has a purpose. This also allows you to look more professional with an email address that isn’t

In marketing, your portfolios and case studies will speak for themselves. Be prepared to answer any questions that pertain to timeline, process, and skills. Be sure to point out the challenge you were faced with and be ready to explain how your design or creative provided the solution to that challenge. Any hiring professional will understand it may be a school project, a pro bono for a friend (I still design for beer), or a first paid gig. The details will help where the experience lacks.

Solving problems = value

  1. Be on time (a good basic first impression)
  2. Be genuine (a lot of applicants try to tell people what they think they want to hear)
  3. Follow up (persistence pays off and this keeps you top of mind even if the position gets filled)


Think about a single flat head screwdriver or a Swiss Army multi-tool. Both have their purpose, yet I could make arguments for why either would be better than the other.

Let’s put this into perspective now.

Applicant (A)
You like to create logos and collateral material.

Your skillset might be:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign

The portfolio of Applicant (A) could be substantiated with a well-rounded portfolio and ultimately emphasize more than enough value. Like a single flat head screwdriver, this portfolio could reflect strength for a single purpose.

Applicant (B)
You like to create logos, collateral material, photograph your projects, edit photos, create your portfolio website and set up your freelance social media accounts.

Your skill sets might be:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Camera Raw
  • WordPress
  • CSS3
  • HTML5
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Later
  • Google Admin
  • Web Hosting

The portfolio of Applicant (B) seems to be rounded and emphasizes value in a multitude of mediums. One medium could be stronger than the others, but like a Swiss Army multi-tool, this portfolio could reflect versatility.

Neither of these options are bad, but it is important to know what you are looking for in your job. In the marketing field, we classify the skillsets listed above as specialist and generalist. Ad agencies and in-house shops all over are filled with both. If you want to specialize in an area, go for it, but be willing to go all in! If you have lots of interests, then you will be very happy as a generalist, but be realistic with yourself. A generalist can have many skills, but very rarely are they capable of achieving expertise in one or more.


There are many paths that can be pursued in marketing. Many of which give you an opportunity to really figure out what you are passionate about. When it comes to employment, you are there to provide value, but you are also being paid to learn. And the only way to learn, is to show up with a fertile mind. When the student arrives, the teacher will appear. I say this, with the realization that the world as we know it is constantly evolving. And we have to want to learn, in order to absorb what is being taught.

Have you ever heard the term “knowledge is power?” I overlooked the true meaning of this until I entered my second job as a graphic designer and was surrounded by an extraordinary level of talent in a field that I thought I was pretty good in. These colleagues were always pushing the limits and they were hungry for improvement. There are some things you can’t fake, experience is one of them. The value of time spent in your craft can not be replaced, but it can be supplemented or sped up through education. Employers in this industry are more than willing to take a chance on an individual who shows an insatiable curiosity and a hunger to improve. Make sure that you possess this quality and that it is immediately apparent to any potential employer.

If you want to work in advertising, you will participate in sales at some level and your first task will ultimately be to sell yourself. Take the knowledge and experience you put into your projects and use those skills to craft a message and image that lets your soon-to-be employer know that you are the solution to their current challenges!

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