A Dramatic Career Change for a Marketing Pro | Ladders

Creative Director Jason Cocovinis found a new job as an experiential marketer at a dramatic-licensing shop.

A Dramatic Career Change for a Marketing Pro

Creative Director Jason Cocovinis found a new job as an experiential marketer at a dramatic-licensing shop.

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When he thinks back to his high school’s drama productions, Jason Cocovinis remembers noting the name and logo of dramatic-licensing firm Music Theatre International (MTI) printed on every script book. He never thought as an adult that he’d be working for the company.

“They were always the company you were ‘afraid’ of,” the 33-year-old Cocovinis laughed. “If you didn’t have the correct licensing rights to perform the shows, you could be in big trouble!”

Cocovinis, a New York marketing professional, had worked his way through various marketing, sales and creative positions prior to his tenure as creative director for Jack Morton Worldwide, a global marketing firm that helps clients brand products and build consumer awareness.

Cocovinis’ role in “experiential marketing” called for him to engage with various consumer products, health care and technology audiences in novel ways. He said he was extremely happy in his position, doing what he loved. Yet as the economy started slowing he became increasingly wary about his job security.

Exit. Stage left

Over the three years Cocovinis was employed at Jack Morton, he said he saw a lot of attrition, some voluntary and some involuntary in the form of corporate downsizing.

“They went through several management changes, and by mid-July 2008, they’d made a number of significant cuts to their workforce,” he said. Cocovinis said he saw the writing on the wall and began contacting his network of former colleagues, clients and friends.

“I saw a hint of what was coming, so I began looking through my writing and creative samples and trying to get my resume in order,” he said. “I was developing my exit strategy.”

Cocovinis believed he was “safe,” at least temporarily, since he was working on a huge account with Verizon for which Jack Morton had been paid a retainer. But the funds from the retainer were used up quickly, and Cocovinis found himself unemployed.

Intermission

“At first, I panicked,” Cocovinis said. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do?! This market is terrifying!’ ” Though he’d built up many contacts in the industry during his 10-year career, he said he felt relieved when a friend suggested Ladders.

Cocovinis said that while he was also using job-search sites such as MediaBistro.com, Monster.com and even Craigslist.org to search for positions, he found it confusing to differentiate one from another, and he was frustrated by their dearth of tracking and filtering tools.

So Cocovinis signed up for MktgLadder and sent his resume in for a free critique. Although he said his resume was in excellent shape and didn’t need much additional help, the feedback he received helped him fine-tune his writing samples, cover letter and make small changes that enhanced his presentation to potential employers.

“As a writer and a marketing person, this service and the feedback I got on my resume and samples was really valuable to me,” he said.

Over the next four months, Cocovinis went on several interviews, some of which he gleaned via Ladders and some from other sources. He said that he wasn’t too concerned about focusing on one particular area of the marketing and creative fields.
“I was relatively indiscriminate about what I was applying for, because quite honestly at that point I just needed a job – any job!” he said. “I looked into interactive marketing, consumer products, I even looked into the nonprofit sector.”

Since Cocovinis was interviewing for high-level positions in the marketing field, he said the interview process was lengthy and intense, and often involved developing presentations and putting together fake campaigns to demonstrate to potential employers his ability to organize, to address specific audience segments and meet deadlines.

By December, Cocovinis was beginning to feel slightly discouraged. One promising lead with another large agency didn’t pan out. But one listing on Ladders.com did pique his interest.

“I found a listing for an interactive-marketing job,” he said. Because his resume, cover letter and samples were already in Ladders’ online database, it was a matter of a few mouse clicks to apply for the position.

“The listing was really vague, but I applied and found it was through a headhunting firm.”

Second act

Fifteen minutes after sending his application, the headhunter called Cocovinis and asked him to drop in that day to discuss the position and his experience. While he was wary, he went and was pleasantly surprised to find the recruiting firm was extremely knowledgeable about the company they represented — MTI — and the position they were looking to fill.

“Normally recruiters aren’t as well-versed as they should be on the clients and jobs they represent, but they sold me on the job,” he said. The recruiter made some phone calls and set Cocovinis up with an interview at MTI the next day.

“I interviewed on a Thursday and I was offered the position on Monday,” he said. Although he still had to complete some sample campaigns, Cocovinis’s recruiter set up a one-on-one meeting with MTI’s president that solidified the company’s decision to hire him.

Curtain call

Now, as director of marketing at MTI, Cocovinis said he regularly draws on skills from his previous agency experience and his familiarity with interactive and experiential campaigns.

Most recently, he’s been tasked with developing a new Web site for MTI to reach the worldwide theater community as well as integrate some social- and professional-networking capabilities.

“At MTI, we grant the rights to perform any number of the 350 Broadway musical titles we have in our catalog,” he said, so his audience includes big Broadway troupes as well as amateur groups, high-school drama clubs and community theaters, he said.

“I love this,” Cocovinis said. “It’s really pulled together a lot of my different areas of expertise. It’s all about connecting with potential audiences and making sure theater is accessible and exciting for folks.”