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How to get a job in London advertising: M&C Saatchi CEO Carrie Hindmarsh says ditch the gimmicks and be more than a surface-skimming jack-of-all-trades

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

March 25, 2013 | 5 min read

If the bad news about the London advertising job industry is that recruitment has fallen, the good news is that CEO of M&C Saatchi, Carrie Hindmarsh, insists if you want a career in advertising enough, you will make it.

Multimedia: Hindmarsh says skills across platforms are beneficial

"Recruitment at entry level is down but in the middle two more senior levels it is stable because of the need for agencies to increase and improve strategic, data and technology capabilities to meet changing clients' needs," explains Hindmarsh, who highlights the development of technology and its implications as an area jobseekers should be taking into account.

"There is a skills shortage when it comes to people who really understand how to develop big cross-platform strategy, idea and executions, they are a rare breed. As the communications world becomes highly integrated, multimedia cross platform expertise is at a premium. Skimming across the surface and being a jack-of-all-trades no longer cuts it.

"I have always believed and still believe that this industry is full of some of the smartest, most creative, curious-minded, entertaining people around so don't give up the faith. If you are good and you want it enough, you will get there."

Hindmarsh has been working in the advertising business for over 20 years. In 2007, she was promoted to managing director at M&C Saatchi before being made CEO in 2011. Her career has covered work on a range of big name brands, including Sky Digital, The Independent, Qantas, Sainsbury's, BA, HP Sauce and Lea & Perrins, Ribena and Foster's lager. She moved to M&C Saatchi in 1995 after beginning her career at Saatchi & Saatchi as a graduate trainee in 1991, and recommends such schemes to young people trying to find a way into the London advertising job industry.

"Many agencies take people on for work placements. Some, like here at M&C Saatchi, have work placement schemes that you can apply for a place on. This is, in my view, the very best way to get to really begin to understand the industry and which aspects, channels and departments most appeal to you.

"It also shows that you are serious and committed, which you need to be if you're going to stay the pace. Think hard about how you present yourself via your CV, email, covering letter and interview, and don't forget about the importance of creating a social profile on LinkedIn etc."

While a Deloitte report last month claimed that the advertising industry contributed as much a £100bn to the UK economy in total, when its knock on effect of supporting other industries such as media were taken into account, the department for culture, media and sport estimated the value of the industry itself was just over £36bn in GVA to the UK economy. A Greater London Authority economics report estimated approximately 73,000 jobs were provided by the advertising industry, while recent figures have predicted advertising expenditure to grow by 3.1 per cent this year.

Internet advertising has seen the fastest growth, reporting an increase of 10.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, and Hindmarsh says an ability which spans multiple platforms is an advantage to anyone looking for a job in advertising, as well as remembering the core requirement of the advertising world - good ideas.

"In times of austerity, clients are at best cautious, at worst significantly reducing activity," Hindmarsh warns. "As a result, agencies are having to err on the side of caution themselves, working with the resource that they have available rather than investing.

"Always remember that you are one of many others, that you are trying to stand out and that you are looking to work in an industry which is all about memorability, impact and relevance. But avoid pointless gimmicks - a great idea is what will get you noticed and remembered."

To view the latest jobs in advertising your area, visit The Drum's job section

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