So you want to be an Account Executive

July 20th, 2020

Lexie Danford

Brand Strategist & Account Executive

An image of two female staff members talking at a whiteboard

When I tell people that I work at an agency, they often assume I am a graphic designer. To be fair, I do have a design degree and studied art. But, my role at Paradigm is actually something very different. In addition to our team of Designers and Developers, we have the roles of Account Manager and Account Executive / Brand Strategist, which serve a unique function to help make sure our projects are implementing both Smart Art and Creative Strategy. 

I often say when we as the accounts team are doing our jobs best, we are almost invisible, working behind the scenes. So what does it take, and what do we look for in an AE? 

1. Organization 

Because the AE is the “glue” between the design team, the development team, and the client, it is really important that our AEs be able to manage a lot of competing priorities at a time. To do that, being organized is key. 

How to show that when applying or interviewing: 

  • Make sure your attachments are clearly labeled with your name and a date, rather than “Resume” or something similar - that helps us keep track of you and shows you are in organized habits 
  • Make sure your resume is clear, scannable, and has a good flow / organization to it 
     

2. Team Attitude 

When an AE is at their best, they are setting all the other team members (and the client) up for success and positive outcomes, adapting to individual needs, schedules, and communication styles. 

How to show that when applying or interviewing: 

  • Talk about how you have worked as part of a team in your interview 
  • Be self-aware - know your communication style, do some soul searching, and be able to talk about how you communicate and what your communication style is. (Some good resources for this are Myers-Briggs, DISC testing, or the Enneagram)  
  • Mention volunteer, non-profit, or group-oriented experience you have on your resume
     

3. Written & Verbal Communication 

Since our AEs are constantly communicating with our own team and our clients, it is key to have excellent written and verbal skills. 

How to show that when applying or interviewing: 

  • Be articulate in your cover letter. Show your personality, rather than copy and pasting a fill-in-the-blank type template 
  • Be very mindful of your communication with us - every email you exchange with us is showing us how you might communicate with our clients 
  • Don’t fluff or stuff - focus in your resume on clarity so we can understand what you did - don’t stuff with buzzwords that don’t articulate or relate to your actual experiences 
  • If you have them, send us a few samples of your writing along with your resume and cover letter. 
  • Proofread proofread proofread - everything, all the time. 
     

4. Curiosity & Lifelong Learning Attitude 

Our AEs are constantly learning about new industries, creative problem solving, and writing, so we highly value people who are proactive in continuing to educate themselves. We appreciate applicants who can find anything interesting (even if it isn’t something they have encountered before). 

How to show that when applying or interviewing: 

  • Tell us about books, podcasts, or other resources you are interested in 
  • Talk about times when you have had to work with people or industries that are different from you and how you handled that 
  • We are willing to teach and train someone who is the right fit, but it helps if you can tell us what transferable skills you have from prior employment that you can adjust and use in the AE role.

 5. Critical Thinking & Creative Problem Solving 

Because our clients trust us, it is important that our AEs be able to listen to what the client is asking for and help find the best solution for them, even if it is not the solution they initially requested. Rather than being only a project manager, being a brand strategist means thinking about how each part of what we are doing for the client interacts to create brand consistency. Clients rely on us for more than a vendor relationship - they want us to be a partner that helps guide them in making decisions for their brand. 

How to show that when applying or interviewing: 

  • Talk about a time when you gave a client or project partner a solution that best fit their needs, even if it was not the solution they asked for 
  • Talk about your sense of personal responsibility and how you take ownership of tasks 
  • Talk about a time where you had to find a creative solution 
     

6. Empathy & Emotional Intelligence (EQ) 

Since we are a small and close-knit team, we highly value candidates that have good self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and are very relational. We hire in these positions for culture fit first, and skills second because we believe the right candidate can grow into the skills needed if they have the right attitude and character. 

How to show that when applying or interviewing: 

  • Tell us about your own personal core values 
  • Talk about how you typically relate to others 
  • Think about what kind of culture you think is the best fit for you, and be able to articulate what you are looking for in a workplace, not just a position. 
     

All in all, being an account person at Paradigm is a wonderful fit if you love setting others up for success, enjoy helping solve problems for people, have strong organizational and communication skills, and you are eager to never stop learning. If you think that might be a good fit for you, feel free to get in touch with us!