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How to Write a Promotional Resume

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resumewritingIf you want to secure a job in promotional marketing or are looking for a way to secure more work in events, then you have to create a resume which displays your talents, experience, and skills in this quickly evolving industry.

Let’s start by saying that there is no right or wrong way to create a promotional resume, but promotional resumes do differ significantly than most traditional resumes.

Experiential marketing is a fast moving business.  Jobs can last as short as a day or as long as several months.  One thing that EVERY job in experiential marketing has, however, is an expiration date.  All experiential jobs come to an end at some point.  And then, it’s off to the next gig, the next promotion, the next event.

It is because of this heavy turnover and quick change of venue that most veteran promotional specialists and brand ambassadors will have a significant amount of events and jobs on their resume.  From automotive to acne creams, from cell phones to cereals, event marketing is as diverse as the people that populate the field.  Keeping those events organized and legible can be a small undertaking for even the most seasoned of experiential experts.

Whether you’ve only worked a few in-store demos or have managed multi-month national tours, when writing a resume you want your experience to stand out beyond your competition.  Event marketing agencies can get scores of resumes for one job opening.  Everyone wants to be chosen, but a few will actually get the call back.

Below are a few tips on how to write a resume when working in the field of event / experiential / promotional marketing.  Remember:  There is no right or wrong way to do this, but there are some standard things that you should keep in mind.

Heading

EXAMPLE:

JOHN HERNANDEZ

abc@hotmail.com

555-555-5555

Los Angeles, CA 90045

Put your name, city, state, zipcode, e-mail and phone at the top

Yes, you have to put both your e-mail and phone at the top.  If you want, you can also add this information at the bottom of your resume.

Why?

Answer:  because people lose and forget things.

Make it convenient for the hiring coordinator to find you.  Remember that time is of the essence and speed and efficiency will always beat out experience and organization in this industry.

Do not put your street address or house number on your resume.  When you work in experiential marketing, you will have to send your resume out to lots of potential employers.  You do not know how legitimate some of those employers or their hiring coordinators are.

Remember what your parents told you when you were younger:  “Don’t talk to strangers.”  There’s a reason for that.  ‘Strangers’ may have other motivations for securing your resume and info.  Do you really want to apply for a position as an ‘auto-show model,’ send in photos of yourself when you were at the beach last summer, only to receive a knock on your door a few days later from the supposed ‘job recruiter’ who was so enamored with your photos that he had to visit you in person?

Once again, we don’t know who is on the other end of the internet.  We don’t know who is posting the job and whether or not the job really exists or not.  Lots of our job applying revolves around leaps of faith; the hope that maybe somebody out there likes us enough to give us a job.  Until you are actually working with a company, you don’t know your employer.  Only until you are comfortable and receive your hiring papers to sign should you send them your home address.  Until then, while you are just sending out resumes, keep it simple.

City, state, and zip code are also very important because your location is crucial.  You may be working an experiential event in Iowa, but the agency’s office with whom you are applying with is out of Florida.  Your hiring manager will not be familiar with your location, so it is important to put down city and zip code.

Ignorant and unknowledgeable hiring coordinators can sometimes bias themselves thinking that event workers have to come out of the ‘same city’ that the event is taking place in.  That’s why zip codes need to be there.  It may even be a good idea to put what major city you are next to (Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Seattle…) so that those unfamiliar with neighboring towns can place you accordingly.   Hiring managers are always looking for ways to trim application pools.  Don’t give them a reason to trim you.

 

Summary

EXAMPLE:

SUMMARY OF     QUALIFICATIONS

•             Experiential Marketing / Event     / Tradeshow / Live Entertainment experience for national interactive /     promotional events for various clients, agencies, and CPGs

•             COORDINATOR of logistics,     operational deadlines meeting client requirements

•             MANAGER of up to 20 event     workers / ambassadors per event;      FOH, AV; Trouble-shooting; Public speaking, MC, DJ; effectively     communicating brand messaging.

•             Professional handling of daily     expenses, accounting, cost projections, budgetary goals, receipts,     time-sheets, hotel / flight bookings, photos, event recaps, social media     posts.

•             Driver of box trucks, cars,     vans and trailers; Load in/out; Food handling / preparation; Equipment     maintenance; Crowd control.

 

The next thing you write is a summary of your qualifications.  Your qualifications will vary on the number of promotions you have done, and will only increase as you gain more experience in the field.

The summary above is direct from my resume.  It basically states everything I have worked with.  Everything I have done in the field.  Everything I can do, have experience with, or have knowledge of.  All promotions (whether performed by me or someone else) have some combination of the elements above.

Bullet point it!  Keep it brief but to the point.  Let your potential employer know what you have done, what experience you have, and what you are capable of.  They might not read the entire resume, but they should get a quick idea of what you have done.

Every experiential campaign, whether long or short, manager or brand ambassador, consists of similar elements.  In the end, it’s all about meeting and exceeding client wants and expectations, setting everything up properly and breaking it down efficiently.

And don’t be modest on your resume.  Be bold and state what you have done.  Let others see that you have managed people before.  If you can dance or sing, let others know that you are familiar with the performing arts.  If you have a CDL, a motorcycle license, or can drive a forklift, put that down as well.  Let your potential future employer know that you know how to do many things that other people can’t do.  Your physical abilities and knowledgeable traits are as much of an asset on your experiential resume as your experience, talents and skill sets.

Job recruiters read hundreds of resumes a year in experiential marketing.  They don’t have the time (or desire) to read each one thoroughly.  Your ‘Summary of Qualifications’ may be the ONLY thing the job recruiter reads.  So make it good.  Write it well.  Write with confidence and believe that no other candidate can do it better than you.

 

Experience

EXAMPLE:

ABC (Summer ’13 – Fall ’13) –     Market Manager – Managing demos, staff, and experiential experiences for     international brand in CA, Orange County market; Setup; Display     maintenance; staff assignments; recaps; photo submissions and waivers

DEF – (Spring ’13) – Market     Manager – Managing Hispanic events for phone provider; photo recovery;     Hiring BAs; consumer engagement; Recaps; event production

XYZ – (Spring ’13 – Summer ’13)     – Tour Manager – 4-Person crew; Filming/event production for  tour in various markets: KY, OH, PA, VA,     NC, GA, TN, AL, LA; Celebrity endorsement; YouTube Postings; Social Media     blitz; Budgets; Event Recaps

 

After your summary, you begin with your experience.

When you list your professional experience, keep the bigger more prestigious promos to the top.  The longer campaigns should be highlighted first, with smaller brand ambassador gigs toward the bottom of your resume.  Of course, if you have managed events, these should always be to the top of your resume.

Don’t get too technical in your job duties, but be concise.  Remember:  the hiring recruiter gets a multitude of resumes to read.  She’s not reading everything in all of them.  She’s probably not reading all of them anyway.  Keep your experience to a point where they know that you know what you are doing.  If they want to know more about what you did on the job, they can always call you – and that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Some of your brand ambassador gigs may be only one or two days.  That won’t look good if you ‘date’ those jobs.  Instead, state your smaller promotions in a lump sum.

EXAMPLE:

Communication     / Electronics :

AT&T – Phone demos                               COMCAST –     “Xfinity”

X-BOX – “Scene It”                                  VERIZON     WIRELESS – “Verizon Careers”

APPLE – Ipad Introduction                        SAMSUNG – “Galaxy     Note” tour

PLAYSTATION – “MLB 2K12”                     NORTON – “Ultimate     Protection” Avengers Tour

TIGERDIRECT – Intel “Touch Tour”            SONY – Sony Vaio “Wheel of     Deals

 

This is when you have a multitude of promotions in your resume.  Remember that the hiring recruiter is not reading everything, so make it brief, but state what you have done so as not to leave them second guessing your activations.

If you have relatively few promotions on your resume, then elaborate those you have done.  Even if the promotion only lasted a day, let others know what you have done.

EXAMPLE

Pepsi – Distributed samples; Engaged     consumer interactions; Managed inventory

 

The job may have only consisted of you standing behind a counter and pouring soda into a cup, handing it out to passing consumers, but “Poured soda into cup” doesn’t look good on a resume.

I’ve had jobs where I stood around all day with no consumers in front of me.  I’ve had jobs where I had to help the manager break down boxes in the back room all day while the other BAs gave out samples.  I didn’t mind.  I was fine with it.  The pay check was the same whether I did one task or the other.  However, when I put the job on my resume, I’m not putting “broke down boxes all day” on my resume.  Telling the literal truth would only hurt my chances of future employment.

BAs can have some diverse roles in the event marketing world, with each role dependent on the other in order for the event to run smoothly.  As stated, the person who reads your resume may not be as well versed in the multitude of tasks that have to take place in the event marketing arena.  As such, explain yourself briefly, concisely, and to the point.  Don’t let them think that you know less or are capable of doing less than you can actually do.

If you didn’t do much on your job, then on your resume state what your responsibilities were supposed to be, what you were supposed to do, and the extent or your supposed responsibilities.  Let others know what your superiors are entrusting you to do, rather than what your actually tasks were.

 

When I have a lot of experience in experiential marketing, should I still put down my brand ambassador gigs?

This is a debated issue in event marketing.  Mind you, it’s mainly an issue for people with years of experience, but everyone I speak with, varying on their expertise, has a different opinion:  after doing a multitude of events for a number of years, are my brand ambassador gigs still relevant?  Should I place my BA gigs on my resume?

Some experiential professionals don’t even put brand ambassador gigs on their resume.  They feel as though brand ambassador gigs are beneath them.

This is when setting up an experiential resume gets tricky.  What do you put on it?  Just the gigs where you managed?  Just the BA gigs?  Maybe two resumes?  There might be times where that isn’t such a bad idea.

There are many ways that hiring coordinators at experiential agencies will ‘bias’ the resume pool.  Keep in mind that lots of these hiring coordinators have zero experience with either hiring or selecting candidates for promotional gigs.  Some of them were brand ambassadors themselves who just got lucky and found their way into an office position.

Others have just graduated from college. They don’t know what to choose from or how to be appropriately selective in their selection process.  Too much ‘management’ on a resume can scare some of these young recruiters away.  “Gee whiz,” they think to themselves, “This guy has so many years of experience in the field he’s probably too old to do this gig.  Either that or he will think the job he is applying for is beneath him.”

As anyone who has been in the industry a few years knows, you can’t always be the manager of a promotional campaign.  It would be nice, but it just doesn’t work out that way some times.

Unfortunately, many of those in hiring and management positions don’t know this.  They think that you must have done something wrong to be working as a manager for your Nintendo event last week only to be a brand ambassador a week later on a Coca-Cola promotion. Sometimes hiring recruiters don’t understand that you work for different agencies and that different accounts have different people running them.

Because of this, some experiential veterans have actually taken to write two resumes – one with management experience and one with brand ambassador experience only.

There’s nothing wrong with two resumes, especially in an industry where one job could contradict another job’s merits.  It’s very easy to work a marketing campaign for a fast food company only to work a marketing campaign for a nutritional company a month later.  Keeping two resumes – one that is strictly MANAGEMENT and the other strictly BRAND AMBASSADOR, is entirely up to you.  Just make sure that you keep your jobs in check and know what role you are applying for.

 

Dates

The amount of time you have been doing promotions, and when you did a particular job, is another area on your resume that can be both beneficial as well as detrimental to particular resume viewers.  Be careful when you ‘date’ your event marketing jobs.  Days, weeks, months, and years can all become suspect to the ill-informed, untrained, or discriminating hiring recruiter.

As you write your ‘times’ on your experiential resume (see above) just be conscious of the fact that your age will come to light.  How many years you have worked in the industry can make or break your next assignment.  Both experienced and newbie event workers have to be aware of this fact.

Years equate to age.  And age always garnishes discrimination in this business.  Age and experience can work against you in experiential marketing.  ‘Too old’ might mean that you are too ‘set in your ways,’ which may translate to some people that you might not be a compliant worker when you find out that your event manager is a decade younger than you are.

Age discrimination in experiential marketing is REAL!  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it isn’t.  Hiring managers state, all the time, in professional letters, articles, and business paperwork that they are only trying to select the ‘best possible candidates for a position.’  No company will ever admit to you personally that you are too old for the position out of fear of legal repercussion.

Also, never forget that you are in the world of marketing.  Advertising.  Entertainment.  This is a very youth conscious industry always seeking the most attractive.  Whether or not you have a picture, youth connotes attractive.  Agencies don’t want to display ‘old people’ to clients (and by old people, I mean anyone over the age of 30).

People start to wonder why a 44-year-old is demoing the latest Vodka brand.  Even if that 44-year-old can sell the brand well, and knows the brand backwards and forwards, to the wrong client or hiring recruiter, that person is ‘too old’ to be sampling Vodka.

All too often, youth and inexperience will win out over maturity and experience in experiential marketing.  Remember that it’s the experience that the consumer is having, not the years of experience on your resume that is important to agencies and clients.

 

Education

EXAMPLE:

M.A. – Rowan University; Glassboro, NJ – Public     Relations

B.A. – Ramapo College; Mahwah, NJ – Business Management

Education is always placed at the bottom of your resume.

Why?  Because an education is the LEAST important asset to have on an experiential marketing resume.

Huh?  Did I just say that?

Hush… don’t tell your moms and dads that I said this.

All kidding aside, however, it is true.  You do not need a college education to do event / experiential marketing.  Yes, you will still see job posts stating that a bachelor’s degree is required, but that’s just for formalities, and for the fact that the majority of people who have bachelor’s degrees will be at least 22-years-old and not some ‘young kid’ whose eighteen and just out of high school (there goes that age discrimination thing again).

By stating “Bachelor’s Degree Required,” it ensures a higher age pool for the recruiters to choose from.   Younger applicants will be unaware that they could still apply, and even get the job, by stating “Bachelor’s Degree” on the e-mail.

NEVER state the year you graduated from college in your experiential resume; you might as well state your birthday at the top of your resume.  The year you graduated can easily prove your age to a recruiter.  As stated, age discrimination is real.  Don’t make it easy for a potential employer to find out how old you are.

 

 

As you gain in experience in experiential marketing, you will start to realize that your bosses and managers have less experiential experience than you do.  Mind you, this does not mean that you exalt your experiential expertise in front of them as to appear arrogant.  What it means is that those individuals in charge of hiring you for a promotion commonly do not have any experience in what it takes to do the very job they are hiring people for.

This is a fast moving industry.  The person you work with is just as temporary as the person you work for.  Take their ‘advice’ with a grain of salt.  Your resume is your way to prove to them that you have what it takes to do the job.  Even if the job is brief, you want that job and its financial rewards.  Let others know that you deserve it.

Experience is never a substitute for a good friend.  BFFs, relatives, and close relationships will ALWAYS trump experience.  You might be thinking that your resume isn’t working, or isn’t being viewed by the right people.  On the contrary, your resume was simply added to a pile of job applicants, both qualified and unqualified, only to be superseded by a more ‘experienced’ candidate – the hiring recruiter’s brother-in-law.

Don’t let this stop you from writing a good experiential resume.  A good resume, regardless of whether or not it is read, is an extension of your experience to the world.  It shows the world, who does not know you, who you are, what you can do, and what you have done.  That’s what a good resume can do.

You are the best experiential marketer out there.  Believe it.  Let your resume show everyone that you know what you are doing, that you’ve done it before, and can do it better than anyone else.  Your resume may be your first and only chance to ‘shine’ before those that will decide whether or not you get the job.

So shine… and shine bright!

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John Diego Hernandez

John has been working in event and experiential marketing for over 11 years and has toured nationally throughout the US working with a multitude of agencies for a variety of clients. John's interests include travel, writing, screenwriting, hiking, and a good movie!