How to get a job in an advertising media agency

The genesis for this post comes from a comment by David Haddad, Managing Director at UM, made recently at the Media Federation Australia (MFA) ‘Lecture the Lecturers’ forum. When asked what advertising media agencies seek in the skill set of entry level graduates he said: “at UM, we look for candidates with the potential to become business analysts”. Sounds reasonable, but what exactly is that? Moreover, which skills are required to be a business analyst?


Macleay College advertising graduates Amanda Florence (Starcom Mediavest Group) and Carlos Alcantara (Magna Global) have both successfully launched their careers in the media sector of the advertising industry.

The Federal Government, in the form of Minister for employment, Michaelia Cash, recently released a CSIRO report last entitled “Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce”, you can read it here. The report is timely, as it outlines the megatrends for jobs over the next twenty years and the skills required by employers.

So, if you’d like a job in an advertising media agency, the first thing to do is read the report, soak in the implications for you, undertake a SWOT analysis of your position and develop a strategic plan. Having done that, you will get a job in an advertising media agency. That said, let’s take a look at two of the reports megatrends, specific to advertising media agencies and the skills you can acquire now to ensure you are a quality candidate.

Megatrend 1

Big data and technologies ability to crunch the numbers mean that artificial intelligence (AI) will more efficiently perform tasks than humans more and more. In Media, this is called Programmatic. This means that the only jobs available in the near future will be ones where AI cannot replace humans. In advertising media, that means having the analytic skills to go into a business, identify problems and provide insightful solutions. That is what David Haddad describes as the business analyst.

Megatrend 2

The increasing use of automated systems together with low skilled positions being offshored means that positions available in Australia are complex and highly skilled. Entry level graduates require a higher skill level and a wider repertoire of skills than ever before.

The CSIRO report identifies ten new skills and mindsets needed for graduates navigating the future workforce. There are three, which are of particular importance to anyone aspiring to a career in advertising media

Skill One

New capabilities are needed for new jobs of the future. Sara Varnell a digital strategist at SMV, remarked at the MFA forum “we are so often looking for candidates with skills which have only been required by the market in a very short space of time. There aren’t many people with the skill sets we need when we need them”. For the sake of brevity, those skill sets will not be outlined in this post. However, if you want a job in an advertising media agency, call the following people, ask them what skills they are looking for and add them to your personal strategic plan.

Elissa Good-Omozusi – UM

Martin Cowie – OMD

Pauly Grant – Zenith Optimedia

Skill Two

Digital literacy is needed alongside numeracy and literacy. Put simply, being on Instagram is not enough. You have to know the back end of a plethora of platforms in the digital space. My advice, learn to code.

Hate maths? No good at it? You need to move on and live in the now. There is a massive shift in the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). This is where employment growth is occurring and there is great demand for agency for candidates with skill sets in these areas. Go to a night class, buy the book and work your way through it, at the very least wrap your head around excel, it’s fundamental.

I know, you know how to write. No, you don’t. Well, if you came first in the year in HSC English Extension Two, then yes you can write. Otherwise, not. Writing in the agency is a highly developed and sophisticated skill. Those possessing the talent have usually been mentored and groomed. Therefore, go to the Garrett, fire up that laptop and begin. Being a good writer is one of the skills that agency business directors constantly lament the dearth of talent into me.

Final Thoughts

So, there it is. The skinny on how to get a job in a media agency. Now you have a sophisticated piece of research available to you which can lead you along the right career path instead of down a blind alley. You have a couple of megatrends that you can surf and take advantage of ahead of the game and lastly, you know which skills are hot in media right now. May the road rise up to meet you.

Advertising Lecturer, Lianne Lewis

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