What It Takes to Get Hired at Nebo

So, you want to work at Nebo? Getting your foot in the door at most agencies is known for being notoriously difficult. Competition is typically fierce, and with the job market still rebounding from the 2008 economic meltdown, it’s even more brutal.

There are millions of articles about how to find a job, how to prepare for an interview and so on. Throughout my career I’ve interviewed many, many applicants. When we say Nebo is a human-centered agency, we mean it in all aspects of how we run our business — especially how we bring on new team members.

If you’re interested in getting a position at Nebo, here are a few suggestions to help start you off on the right foot.

Networking — Ugh

I’ll be honest with you, when I hear, “Oh, you just need to network,” my skin crawls. I get a mental image of that person at the marketing event with whom you strike up a casual conversation and then find that you just can’t get away. I personally don’t like the word networking. To me, it has a negative connotation that seems calculated and forced.

What I would advise is to just get out there. Go to industry events with the primary goal of learning something new and the secondary of goal of “networking.” If you meet someone from Nebo, don’t be afraid to tell the person that you’re interested in our agency or want to learn more. But don’t come to the event exclusively to try and network.

Also, don’t limit yourself to industry events. Talk to your family, friends, neighbors, etc. Talk to everyone because you never know who could introduce you to the right people. The same thing goes for LinkedIn. Don’t blindly send someone a LinkedIn request. Instead, find a way to see if someone in your circle can make an introduction. We love to meet people who are enthusiastic and sincere.

Rsume and Cover Leter

Notice anything wrong with that headline? We’ve all heard a million times that you need to check your resume for spelling errors and typos. Well, here goes a million and one — check your resume for spelling errors and typos! Print it out and check it. Ask a friend to proof it.

I’d say the majority of resumes and cover letters I receive have at least one error. Additionally, don’t forget to check the formatting. Do you have dashes after your job titles in some areas and colons in other places? Do you use left alignment in some areas and full justify in others? Make sure your resume and cover letter are clean, formatted consistently and free of errors.

Oh, and the next time you want to download that free sample resume and only tweak a few things on it — well, don’t. Surprise! Google’s actually quite a popular search engine. I don’t care if you get your resume format from a template, but I’ve seen many objectives that look exactly the same with the same horrible buzzwords. Can we all agree to never use the word self-starter again? Use the template for formatting help, but make sure the content is unique.

The last thing I’m going to say about resumes and cover letters is there’s a misconception that, to get hired by an agency, you need to have this really unique and zany cover letter and resume. Please, be careful because this can come across as really gimmicky or too cutesy. This doesn’t mean that we only want standard resumes and cover letters. As I said earlier about networking, the key is to be sincere. If you have a creative streak and think of something different for your resume and cover letter that showcases your personality or experience, go for it! But don’t think you need to come up with some off the wall concept just to get your resume noticed.

The Interview (not the movie with Seth Rogan and James Franco)

It’s interview time. You’ve gotten this far. The end feels, oh, so close. When I’m conducting an interview, I always prepare. At Nebo, we treat our candidates with respect, and I always review your resume, LinkedIn, portfolio, etc. before meeting with you. Just as I’ve done some research on you, I do expect that you’ve read our website and social profiles. And trust me, it’s very obvious which candidates did their homework and which ones didn’t.

In our industry we have a lot of acronyms, buzzwords and industry jargon. Additionally, every agency has its own way of referring to certain processes and applications. If we ask you a question and you’re not familiar with a term we said, you know what? It’s OK to say you’re not sure or to ask us to clarify.

I see a lot of candidates who think they have to provide a “right” answer to every question we ask. They also seem to think the “right” answer is what we want to hear. Well, at Nebo, that’s definitely not the case. We’re trying to get a sense for your experience, personality and, more importantly, how savvy you are. And by savvy I mean how you approach problem solving and process new information. We don’t expect you to know everything — I sure don’t.

At Nebo, we also won’t ask you what I call ridiculous interview questions. Here’s one just for example: “Imagine you were stranded on an island with a flat tire, a piece of string and a DVD set of all nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother. What would you do first?”

Kill. Me. Now.

These types of questions are fun when you’re out to dinner with friends, but as an interview question? Not so much. I like to ask behavioral interview questions where we can discuss specific examples related to the question. You won’t be asked gotcha questions at Nebo.

Proof of Your Passion

This one is the kicker. Nebo receives applications and inquiries from people every single day. And you know what? On paper, a lot of them have the qualifications we’re looking for. They have past job experience. They have relevant degrees. They have well-kept social channels. When it comes down to it, they’re doing everything right.

But, the real question is whether they have passion.

That’s what we look for in people. Even the most polished set of qualifications falls short if you can’t show us you have a passion for the work you want to do. You want to be a copywriter? Show us samples from projects you’ve worked on in your free time. You have a love of paid media? Make sure you have the certifications to back that up. Love design? Bring your portfolio to the interview and show us you’re crazy about it.

Passion isn’t a matter of showing excitement during an interview. It’s a matter of making sure we know you love the work you do. We want to see that your talents are things you care so much about that you find time to use them outside of work. Being able to prove experiences beyond what was required at your past job really, really stands out.

If you have that kind of experience, great. Do whatever you can to highlight those points in your application and during your interview. If you don’t, it’s never too late to find ways to gain experiences in your time off. Find what you love and take every opportunity you can to practice it.

Taking the First Step

As I said earlier, there’s already a lot of information and best practices on this topic. My goal here isn’t to go over every possible recommendation but rather to give you some suggestions from someone who’s an insider. I work with an amazing group of some of the most talented people I know. It’s easy to understand why so many people want to work here at Nebo.

We’re always on the lookout for talented people. We pride ourselves on having an incredible team, and if you’d make for a good fit, we want to hear from you. So take the first step and make an introduction!

Written by Sarah Christiansen on April 9, 2015

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Extremely helpful article, and definitely some aspects to think about and improve (personally).

I also laughed at the awkward interview question, I was asked a similar question when interviewing to become a tutor at my University...
"If you could be any kitchen utensil what would you be?"
Honesty....I don't want to be a kitchen utensil, being a human is pretty good right now. So yeah that question was hard to answer, I went with a Spork (Spoon that's like a fork)...don't judge me.

Awesome article! Very helpful for interesting candidates

Thanks for the helpful tips and information. Literally laughed out loud at the ridiculous interview question...
I was asked once during an interview: "If you were a tree which one would you be and why?"

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Written by
Sarah Christiansen
Vice President, Project Management