Real (social media) life experience


By Dustin Brown

I understand how hard it is to be a student or graduate trying to fight your way into the workforce as I was once there. I’ve heard it time and time again from post secondary students, graduates and even from my own lips: “How am I supposed to get real life experience if no one gives me a chance?”

While there are a few different ways to go about this, I want to focus on the resources today’s students and graduates have available to them to help provide them with a stronger case on why they deserve a job. This resource: social media.

This seems to be the buzz word for every marketer, agency, news cast, charity, political campaign or mother trying to start a Facebook group. It is no secret that there are a lot of valuable uses for social media, but I really want to highlight how you as a student or graduate can use social media to land yourself a job in advertising.

1) Facebook

Your Facebook friends, whether stats or true friends, are a good way to show your networking skills. Regardless of how many people you actually speak to everyday, this is a group of people who have either added you in order to keep tabs on your life or have allowed you to peer into theirs. Your ability to network is a transferable skill no matter how involved you are with each person you are connected to.

2) Twitter

This continues to be one of the hardest social media sites to find a true meaning for, and this is true for both individuals and brands. Aside from the obsessed Miley Cirus and celebrity fans, we struggle as an industry to figure out what true value Twitter has. For a new graduate or student, the ability to keep and gain followers by offering some kind of stimulating conversation in 140 characters or less shows that you are buzz worthy and have something worth reading. I learned very quickly when I first started working how important it is to have an opinion and Twitter is a good way to highlight that.

3) Blogging

So what if your blog is about your collection of Ninja Turtles you’ve had wrapped in the package since you were in Grade 2. You’ve managed to grab the attention of 1500 readers passing by your site and I suggest that you even dabble in Google Analytics to learn more about what people like about your blog.

You may not be the next Seth Godin, but by having a blog you are showing that you’re a contributor instead of just another passenger on the web. Your ability to contribute content and have an opinion will speak louder than you will ever know to a potential job opportunity. There are enough passive people in the world. Stand up and stand out.

4) LinkedIn

So you’ve built your case on why you think you are among advertising’s next 30 under 30. You have over 500 friends on Facebook, 150 people are following you on Twitter and you’ve even had 1500 people read your blog. Those are some pretty good numbers and will definitely help you stand out when you start interviewing, but how do you find potential places to work? I would suggest signing up for a LinkedIn account and building a solid profile for yourself. Once you’ve done this start searching to find the right people to talk to at the right agency for you.

When LinkedIn didn’t exist, the hardest part about getting a sit down meeting was always getting past HR and through to someone who could actually make a decision based on your potential vs. what your resumé says about you. The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can search by city, company, job title, etc. to find the right person to talk to. Once you find the right person email them, send them interesting articles, opinions on their company and the industry in general. With each message you should be working toward that all powerful sit-down. Once you nail the sit down it is out of my hands and I leave it to you to prove why they should hire you for this job.

So the next time you’re on Twitter and Facebook consider that these tools could be a contributing factor to your career. So think before you post a picture of yourself doing a keg stand or decide that “Sitting on the can” is what you should update your status with.

Dustin Brown is currently the director of new business at Elemental, a full-service Toronto-based micro agency providing communication solutions for clients across a number of industries. He has worked in the advertising industry for over four years, starting his career at Cossette Communications. While at Cossette, he worked on a diverse portfolio of clients including Saturn and Saab, Bell, BMO, OLG, Habitat for Humanity and World Vision.

If you’re interested in reading more of Dustin’s advice and ideas, please check out his blog Dear Advertising.