23644873_sIt’s been quite a while since I’ve had to hire creative marketing staff. I’m doing it now and it’s been a bit of a shock. It seems that many prospects under “a certain age,” have been lied to—and worse, they’ve taken those lies to heart.

It seems that some of you have read that simply stating your interest in the job, and the strengths you might bring to it are insufficient. You’ve been told you must “sell yourself.” You need to tell me why you’re the one person in the whole wide world whom I should hire, and you’ve been told to do it in the breakneck tones of a carnival barker. You think you have to convince me that you’re a unique, one-in-a-million fit for a position about which you know very little, at a company about which you know less.

Mistake. Unless you’re applying for a job as a telephone debt collector, undue aggression is a turnoff. The tone leads the reader to doubt the veracity of everything you say. The ‘salesy’ tone oozes insincerity.

Don’t tell me how much you love the company to which you’re applying when there’s no way for you to know very much about it. Of course, state that you’ve found a small company atmosphere more appealing in the past, or that you’ve believe in the importance of working for a cause that’s important to you. But don’t trot out the hard sell.

If you’re a designer, the first thing anyone’s going to do is look at is your work, so prominently display the link to your book. Only after vetting the work will most employers look at your resume or cover letter. Thus, the work is the most important thing; make sure you show it in the best light.

Finally, please make sure that you provide contact information. There were recently two applicants we would have called in, but we had no way of getting in touch with them. There left no contact information anywhere—not on their work sites, not in their initial letters—nothing.

In a way, creatives have it easy. Good employers are going to make a bee-line to your work. If it holds up and shows promise, you may get a call. No amount of follow-up, hucksterism, or buzz-laden business-speak is going to change the work, so let it speak for itself.

– Leonce Gaiter, Vice President and Content & Strategy