How to Break into Account Planning

Jess Watts
6 min readJul 13

12 things to get an entry-level Advertising Strategy position

Finding a Junior Planner role these days is harder, but not impossible.

Lay-offs, recession, budget cuts…trying to get your foot in the door in advertising as a recent grad (or career pivot) is not without it perils these days. And if your dreams include being part of an agency’s strategy department — which tend to operate with smaller teams and with clients that favor staffing up with senior planners — it can be especially daunting. But here you are, wanting to break into the brand or creative strategy world. This Brand Director wants to help you.

Here are 12, real, tangible things you can do today to help you get closer to getting into strategic planning this year:

  1. Network with Planning Coordinators: When these guys and gals move agencies or get promoted that means there will (most likely) be an entry-level job opening. One you can take. Keep tabs on them, not just the super-senior-C-Suite people who likely won’t know much about open positions at the junior-level.
  2. Change your Linkedin title: recruiters are typing in “planning coordinator, or “jr. planner” into LinkedIn to find candidates. What won’t pop up? You, if your title is “CEO of <Student Ad Agency>” or “Student,” or anything else in that world. Call yourself a strategist. If you build it, they will come.
  3. Read everything: voraciously. I don’t mean marketing books, yeah, those are great, I guess. I mean NYT, Wallstreet Journal, BBC, the Atlantic. Get used to reading succinct, informative, researched writing. Start noticing spin and the forces influencing culture. What you read shows how you engage with society and culture and will come up in interviews for planning roles…and can make or break whether you get another interview.
  4. Create proof of how you think: I can’t take your word for it that you’re research and culture obsessed, and strategist don’t quite have a book or portfolio in the same way as Creatives do. So find ways to show how your brain works. Student case studies are good. Hypothetical strategies to solve real brand and business problems are great. Make a demo deck that you can share. I have also found writing articles is a FANTASTIC way to strut your stuff. Dissect a topic, show you did your research, and demonstrate that you can come up with insights and unique thoughts…
Jess Watts

Where culture & consumerism meet. Strategy Director, culture, pay equity and travel pro. Stalk me here: