5 creative ad agency resumes and portfolios

If you really want to land your dream job, especially in a creative industry, chances are a plain old resume won’t cut it.

With the internship season just around the corner, a new bunch of aspiring creatives, designers and strategists will be looking to kick a foot through the door. For those looking for some inspiration, here’s a roundup of some of the more creative ad agency applications and resumes we’ve seen in recent years.

“The Instavitae”
When McCann New York recently got a new follower on its “Truth Well Brewed” Instagram account, they didn’t think much of it until they realized that the account was a “CV-to-go,” crafted especially by aspiring copywriter-creative duo Josephine Berntzen and Kaja Koppang to catch their attention.

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Berntzen and Koppang, who are interns at the agency’s Oslo office, were gunning for an opportunity to visit McCann New York for the last leg of their internship and created the “Instavitae” to sell their skills and achievements. It worked, because the two are gearing up for their stint at McCann New York in the last week of April.

“They really went that extra mile, and it bodes well because it shows how passionate they are,” said Sallie Mars, McCann’s global director of creative talent. “It worked because it has a narrative to it — there’s an intro, glimpses of their work and what they’re doing behind the scenes. It kept pulling us in.”

The car-door resume
In 2013, when Mullen Lowe won the Accura account, Leanne Olwin, then an aspiring copywriter, applied for a role on the account. But instead of sending over a resume and portfolio, she sent Tammy Skuraton, the agency’s lead creative recruiter, a car door with her resume pasted on the window. Skuraton has received several such creative pitches, from a mini piñata to a carton of bananas and even naked pictures. Unfortunately for Olwin, she wasn’t hired as the agency wanted someone with more experience — although she received props for her creativity.

“Your work should speak for itself, ultimately having great work in your portfolio is the most important thing,” said Skuraton. “If you do anything, it has to be relevant.”

The dreamcatcher
Chandelier Creative’s philosophy is embodied by the phrase “Make and Make-Believe,” and it has seeped into its hiring practices. Applicants to the agency don’t just submit their portfolios and resumes but are encouraged to make something as a part of their application. Founder and creative director Richard Christiansen has received a range of things, from a handmade dreamcatcher to a custom-designed Barbie doll that an applicant modeled after herself. The best part is that applicants don’t always have to come from within the industry. Given Christiansen’s own diverse experiences, he frequently hires people from different professional backgrounds.

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“I am trying to create a culture that celebrates the humanities,” said Christiansen.

The handmade pillow

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Christine Cavallaro is an account coordinator at Providence-based agency Nail Communications. But she may never have gotten the job after her internship last year were it not for her creative exit. As a way to thank the agency, Cavallaro made “adorable pillows with her face on one side,” according to Jeanette Palmer, the agency’s head of client services.

The resume-manifesto
Bogart Avila, a 72andSunny intern from last year, got hired because of this unique website he made as a part of his internship application — something that he calls “a mix between a blog, thought piece and personal manifesto.” SwingBigger.com guides viewers through what he believes “swinging bigger” is all about and then showcases some individuals who embody that idea. Although he sent out the site to several agencies, he made sure to plant a few “Easter eggs” that only 72andSunny would be able to spot and know right away that they were meant for them. When Bogart highlighted John Wooden, the former UCLA basketball coach, for instance, it was a nod to the fact that the 72andSunny auditorium and the partners’ desk is made from the UCLA Pauley Pavilion flooring — the very flooring John Wooden coached on. Bogart also made the entire front page sports-focused, knowing Adidas was new business for the agency. He’s now a junior strategist at 72andSunny working on Adidas and ESPN.

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“The site’s message aligned with a mantra you’re told on day one here at 72andSunny, ‘to swing big,’” he said. “Through the site, I got to tell 72andSunny a bit more about me, show them how I think and create, and how we both have the same ambitions to swing bigger.”