A New Advertising Sales Resume to Sell a New Medium

Jessica Coates is a pioneer in the new world of digital-display advertising. But her old resume wasn’t selling her career properly.


Sometimes all you need is an update to get your career going in a new direction.

That’s what happened to sales executive Jessica Coates.

Coates, who grew up in Westchester County north of Manhattan, had been selling digital-display advertising – the kind of multimedia advertising you would find in the bustling brightness of Times Square.

Have you ever seen the huge NASDAQ rolling ticker display showing stock prices, market news and advertising in the heart of New York’s theater district? Coates sold the advertising for that display and many other types of digital-display advertising. But at the end of 2008, she felt like she was ready for a change, and so was her outdated resume.

“My resume was getting redundant,” Coates said. “I needed a new way of expressing, ‘I sold advertising to display advertisers.’ ”

Coates’ challenge: Her resume spanned a career that started in 1994 placing ads in print publications, evolved into television and finally to digital-display advertising. Hiring managers saw an experienced, all-purpose advertising sales executive instead of an experienced digital-display advertising sales executive who had been in the medium since its founding nearly a decade ago and had no intention of leaving.

“There are 102 digital-display networks out there now,” Coates said. “So it was important to me that I showed how I was part of the emerging technologies, how I learned many aspects of marketing and advertising, and how I moved into sales positions and had career ascension in every job I worked.”

“I wanted to make sure I was showing that I have been in the digital-display market since 2001, which is kind of a big deal since it was back in the inception of the industry.”

Coates’ resume bucks the trend at two-and-a-half pages that highlight the most important advances in her career.

That outcome was getting recognized by a lot of recruiters, hiring managers and a crop of interviews – interviews that eventually landed her a new job in digital-display advertising.

Coates began her career on the agency side of the ad world in 1994 in Atlanta. She placed clients in local print advertising but quickly advanced her career in the coming years.

“I grew with one company’s business by placing them in magazines and newspapers, then moved on to promoting them on cable. They took off, and since they were in the 18-to-35 demo, the brand really had some legs,” Coates said. “As the business grew, we got in more closely with product integration with the likes of E!, Style and Vogue. My career and role expanded as the marketing and business did.”

After going as far as she felt could go in Atlanta, Coates moved back to New York. Coates had learned so much about the television side of advertising that she became a sales planner for Fox Broadcasting Company’s FX network in 1998.

“Once again, I felt like I wanted to broaden my experience, so after being a part of things like [selling advertising for] the finale of ‘Ally McBeal’ and ‘South Park,’ I had gained a lot of experience I could take with me almost anywhere,” Coates said.

Coates has always been at the forefront of selling new technologies as they arise, including digital radio before the likes of Napster and iTunes. She worked with Click Radio, a now-defunct Internet enterprise that imploded with the technology bubble in the early 2000s. This experience led Coates to the digital-display advertising market.

Over the course of six years, she moved from account executive all the way to a vice presidency, with positions at CBS Outdoor, Xtronx, Reactrix Systems and OnSpot.

“In 1998, I decided I had learned enough of sales and had been doing a lot of the salespeople’s actual work that it was the right time to move from planning and buying to actually selling,” Coates said.

Eventually, Coates moved from TV to display advertising in Times Square to selling advertising for digital networks in malls across the country. As display advertising has evolved, so has Coates. In 2008 she decided it was time her resume did as well.

Writing was not her strongest suit, so Coates decided fixing here resume was beyond her abilities. In December, she sought out a professional resume writer who works with Ladders.

Why not turn to professionals who know “what tense to use” as well when to “use periods” and what are the appropriate “words to capitalize?” she said.

The resume writer questioned Coates about her experiences and career goals to establish a message for the resume that would land her the job she wanted. The writer returned a resume two weeks later that captured the breadth of Coates’ career and her many promotions but used language and keywords that made it clear she was ingrained in the world of digital-display advertising and would be noticed by recruiters and hiring managers seeking such a professional.

“I got a lot of response in January once my resume was rewritten,” Coates said.

Coates posted her new resume optimized for digital-display advertising sales positions on SalesLadder in January and landed a job in March.

“I was pretty impressed with how they took my info and updated it with all the buzzwords and keywords that hiring managers are looking for,” Coates said. “Also, they updated the resume to a more current style, layout and format. I had to do some digging for some of the info for the questionnaire, but it was well worth the trouble, considering the outcome.”