A W+K Recruiter Shares Her Best Advice on How to Stand Out From the Competition

'We look for unique thinkers, artists, makers and doers'

Wieden + Kennedy shares what it's looking for in job candidates. Courtesy of Wieden + Kennedy

You’ve spent your entire life reading, writing and studying for this very moment. Now it’s time for you to go out and seek the right place where you can apply all that knowledge. So how do you actually land the job you want?

The world has changed significantly since the first time I was in your shoes, but there are two things that haven’t changed:

I think Colleen DeCourcy, W+K’s CCO, said it beautifully when she gave a recent speech catching lightning in a bottle.

At W+K, that’s what we feel we do when we’re doing it right. The lightning is a fundamental truth that’s powerful and elusive. When we manage to catch it, show it to the world and the world goes, “Ahhh!” then we’ve achieved our goal. That’s our job.

DeCourcy goes on to talk about the power of raw creativity and cutting through all the disruption by asking, as a company, “What do we want?”

We want to make things people want.

At W+K, this can be all kinds of things. And this is where you come in—the lightning rod.

Perhaps a better weather analogy is a snowflake.

The advertising industry gets a bad rap because, well, there’s unfortunately a lot of bad advertising out there. We prefer to be in the eye of the cultural storm. That’s not easy to do these days, and as a creative company, it feels like we’re almost more comfortable being uncomfortable. We yearn for raw and original and emotional and human and real.

We want you, the lightning rod, the snowflake, to fulfill the want we didn’t know we had.

We want to be moved by you.

In this time of universal deceit, speaking the truth is revolutionary—and absolutely necessary.

We strive to be a diverse collection of badasses. Our goal is to be representative of the world around us—inclusive of every race, gender, culture and opinion, at every level. As Dan Wieden has said for many years, we’ve got miles to go before we sleep. We’re pushing every day toward that goal.

Here’s what we look for, straight from the mouths of our leadership across eight global offices:

We want to know what you’re interested in, personal projects, art and pieces of work you love to make.

Often, recruiters are the first people you’re likely to connect with when looking at a position with W+K and many other companies. From Tokyo to Delhi, New York to Amsterdam, here’s some universal advice to you from us:

  • You have a very short time to get someone’s attention. Be prolific in your making but selective in your showing. It’s true—the more work you do, the better you’ll be, but it won’t all be great. Only show us great.
  • Your work should explain itself. A case study isn’t advertising. If your portfolio is filled with case studies, counterbalance it with some personal work.
  • We look for unique thinkers, artists, makers and doers who are driven by a crazy-eye force they can’t quite explain. They’re voraciously curious about the world around them and how it relates to all forms of creativity. They accept any challenge. They’re resilient. They collaborate. They listen.
  • Who are you beyond your work? Do you speak multiple languages, paint, build robots, sleep with a basketball under your arm, race rally cars or DJ? Show us that shit.
  • We might ask to look at your social media accounts to get a better sense of who you are. If you have them and are willing to share, make sure they showcase the best version of you.
  • Be true to yourself. Don’t just give us what you think is the perfect answer. Be you, and trust you’ll land in the right spot, whether it’s with us or not.
  • If you don’t feel you’re quite there with your work or skills, consider additional learning experiences such as programs inside companies, such as The Kennedy’s, an incubator inside W+K.
  • Do your research. Be prepared. Ask us questions. Have an opinion on what you like and what you don’t. How you talk about work says a lot about you.
  • Be current and relevant. Know what’s happening in the world, and be a sponge for knowledge. The more you know, the more valuable you are to everyone around you.
  • Don’t be a dick. If you’re rude to our receptionists, for example, you won’t work out here.

Searching for work can be simultaneously exciting and scary, and that fear should never really go away. A little bit of fear is what drives us to be the best version of ourselves we can be.

So don’t get too discouraged, don’t give up, just keep pushing forward with an equal mix of smarts, courage and humility, and you will find your place.

Melanie Myers is W+K’s global head of creative recruitment.