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Sep 24, 2003

Top Advertising Recruiter Reveals Job Trends & Tips

SUMMARY: In this exclusive interview, headhunter Amy Hoover from Talent Zoo talks about what sorts of jobs are opening up in advertising (it's good news.) Plus, you'll enjoy her list of Top 7 Interview Blunders. Fun.
According to top advertising industry recruiter Amy Hoover, VP Talent Zoo, the top-level and creative job market is finally opening up and recruiters are getting busier weekly.

We interviewed Hoover to find out what jobs are open and how, in general, candidates and employers should work with recruiters:

-> Advertising job trends

Active sectors of advertising today include media planning at all levels, art directors, and copywriters, says Hoover.

"There are still a lot of available creatives left over from downsizing, but there has been a noticeable increase in creative hires over the past six months," she says.

In fact, Talent Zoo placed got more ad execs in new jobs in the first two quarters of this year than they did in all of 2002.

The "summer slump" between July 4th and Labor Day didn't happen this year, Hoover says. "It's been a welcome change. I'm not saying that the industry is recovered yet by any means but it's well on its way."

And although it's still better to look for a job while you actually have a job, you'll be happy to hear it's not as frowned upon anymore if you happen to be out of work.

The secondary advertising market -- outside of New York, Chicago, and LA -- has been even more active.

"A lot of those big city agencies are owned by holding companies and still have hiring mandates," Hoover says. "But companies in Philadelphia or Baltimore or Milwaukee, they may be more independent. They can build a roster of smaller clients, where a huge agency in NY won't spend time on those."

Hoover is also seeing more candidates who are willing to relocate now than ever before, especially people who want to leave New York for quality of life issues. That means small agencies in different locales have the opportunity to entice top New York talent.

-> How recruiters work

Recruiters generally charge employers between 20 and 30% of the first year's salary to find the right person for a position; and, you can expect the process to take anywhere from three to six weeks. (Candidates shouldn't have to pay a thing.)

The best recruiters keep an actively updated database execs in the industry, so they start each search with a good pool of candidates already at their fingertips (whether or not that candidate is actively seeking a new job).

"We have information on people who are out there sitting at their desks doing a great job, and we know their hot buttons," Hoover says. "Like, they're interested if a job opens up in Cleveland, otherwise they're happy. We'll call that person, whereas an agency on their own may not know they exist."

-> Questions to ask when choosing a recruiter

If you're an employer:

Most important, get the names of companies the recruiter has worked with and, ideally, a contact person at a few of those companies.

"Know the track record and look at testimonials from current or past clients," says Ragan Jones, a recruiter at Talent Zoo. If an untested recruiter is hoodwinked by "a bad apple who gives good interviews," you'll pay the price.

You also want to look for a niche firm, but one that has a wide network within that niche. Plus, ask "Where are you recruiting from?" A recruiter who simply puts ads in newspapers isn't doing anything you couldn't do for yourself.

If you're a candidate:

Because recruiters vary, ask how they work: do you sign a contract? Do they keep your information confidential? Will they blanket the industry with your resume or send it only to the most appropriate places? Who pays?

"Some candidates have been burned in the past by having a resume sent all over," Ragan says. "People in the industry talk, and it gets back to their current employer."

Also ask:

o What sort of information do they provide you about prospective companies?

o Will you be working with a single recruiter?

o Will they update their files on you if you keep them informed of changes in your profile (for example, promotions, changes in salary, new clients, or new types of clients)?

o Will they let you know the companies to whom they've recommended you? Again, you don't want your resume going to companies you're not interested in, or for whom you're not qualified (which only lowers your credibility).

-> Top seven interview blunders

Hoover says, "We've heard it all" when it comes to candidates' interview mistakes. Here are her seven Do's and Don'ts (based on real life bad interviews):

1. Don't be flirtatious (really!)
2. Don't ask inappropriate/personal questions
3. Don't be a name-dropper
4. Don't try too hard to sell yourself
5. Do ask relevant questions (here's a good one: "If I talked to five people at the agency, what would they tell me about working here?")
6. Do be yourself (unless you're a rampant flirt)
7. Do bring an extra copy of your resume

And beware of this tactic: Hoover has known hiring managers to be extremely relaxed and throw out colorful language to see how well candidates keep their composure. Don't fall into the trap of mirroring their behavior.

FYI: Hoover's contact info for you

Amy Hoover, VP
Talent Zoo,
812 Lambert Drive
Studio C
Atlanta, GA 30324
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