Career tips for aspiring ad copywriters

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A career as a copywriter is a great option for creative individuals with strong writing skills. However, in this increasingly popular field, competition for jobs is fierce.

Ciabh McEvenue, the managing director at advertising agency Tamm Communications, provides aspiring copywriters with some tips for success.

Stand out

A copywriter doesn’t just string together words all day; they are also responsible for churning out innovative ideas.

McEvenue said candidates who show they’re able to do both aspects of the job have the best shot at an interview.

“You need to market yourself from the start to finish. It’s a creative position, so apply creatively. Tamm was looking to hire a copywriter in the spring and we received mostly standard cover letters and resumes. Out of the hundreds of applications, only a small number were creative so they really stood out.”

“You need to market yourself from the start to finish. It’s a creative position, so apply creatively. Tamm was looking to hire a copywriter in the spring and we received mostly standard cover letters and resumes. Out of the hundreds of applications, only a small number were creative so they really stood out.”

For new graduates with little or no experience, McEvenue said it’s a good idea to include a portfolio for potential employers of any written work that showcases talent. She is willing to look at “student work, blogs or writing from competitions.”

Be prepared to prove yourself

So, you’ve landed an interview. According to McEvenue, this is when employers want to know if you’re everything you claimed to be on paper. To find out, she said “many companies will often ask candidates to complete exercises that include writing tag lines. It’s a great way to see who will actually be able to do the job.”

McEvenue said candidates who have “exposure to a broad range of writing and are active consumers of the media” do the best at the exercises.

Brush up on your etiquette

McEvenue considers the behaviour of a candidate during and after an interview when deciding whether to offer them a job. She said a nice gesture will go a long way. “We exclude people if we don’t receive a thank-you note from them. We see it as a sign that they didn’t really want the job because they didn’t follow up. Also, if we see a stunning lack of passion for the job, we don’t hire that person.”

If you are offered the job, McEvenue said there are a few things to keep in mind once you start. “You need to learn to accept criticism and understand that a lot of what you do at the start will be discarded. Also, learn from the people who have tenure. These people are there because they’re very good.”

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About the author

Jacqueline Martinz graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2008 with an honours bachelor of arts in English and Global Studies. She has written for The Globe and Mail's Canadian University Report Card 2011, Metro, The Toronto Star's Speak Your Mind blog and CTV News Channel. When she isn't writing, Jacqueline enjoys playing the piano, sailing, and exploring Toronto.