Nobody said finding the perfect job would be easy, but the lack of employer response and frequent rejection can easily deflate confidence. But instead of spiraling out of control, I could take some time to understand why I haven’t been able to attain a full-fledged marketing position and head back to the drawing board. I’ve broken down the process into five steps.
1. Admit My Weakness
I’d be lying if I said stretching the truth on my resume had never crossed my mind. We are all looking for the competitive edge to set us apart from the potentially dozens or hundreds of other applicants. What’s stopping me from adding a couple more years experience to my resume?
Well one of my tweets was retweeted by Gary Vaynerchuk, so I could put social media expert on my resume.
Just to be clear, I have not falsified my resume, everything listed there and on my LinkedIn profile is 100% accurate. But I have considered it. Though, that will certainly lead to consequence. I can list all the marketing buzzwords I want, but that will just lead a deer-in-headlights look come interview time without the experience to back up those buzzwords.
I need to be honest with myself, I have a couple years of internships and two sales jobs under my belt. That’s not exactly 3-5 years of experience in a mid-senior creative role in a large-scale marketing and/or advertising agency.
So how does one with little marketing experience gain a marketing job?
2. Time For Self-Reflection
I’ve probably applied for 300 marketing positions since graduating college and I’ve received a response from roughly .01% of those employers. Now, we all know that just comes with the business, not many employers will respond back because that takes too much time. It just how the job market works. So what do I do?
I could continue down the Indeed path, only look at jobs that allow me to apply on Indeed rather than going to the company website. That’s the easy road; I can apply to 30 jobs on Indeed in 5 minutes everyday and hope one calls back on a whim. But that’s not how the marketing world works. There’s no sending your resume and hoping for the best in this industry. This path of little effort leads to frequent disappointment and has me wondering if I’ll ever reach my goal of a successful marketing career. That’s what I’ve been doing up until now, achieving little to separate myself from the hundreds of other applicants and just hoping an employer pick my name out of a hat.
That needs to change. No more hoping. No more laziness. No more disappointment. It’s time to control my future, relying on myself to put in the grunt work and find the right career path. I just need to find a way to set myself apart from other applicants with more experience.
What do I have that they don’t?
3. Sculpting My Image
The answer to the two questions listed above is simple: passion.
Everyone is passionate, but my key is to focus that passion on a marketing outlet. What I lack in experience, I make up for with the willingness to work on my craft when I’m off the clock. Gaining marketing intellect during my free time rather than work experience shows that I don’t turn my brain off when it’s time to go home. Honing my skills after hours shows true motivation because we save our free time for the things we enjoy. For me, it’s reading articles on PR Newswire before going to bed, it’s listening to Marketing Over Coffee while I exercise, it’s learning to how to code on Codecademy so I can build my own website. By incorporating these tactics into my after-work routine instead of just sitting in front of a computer screen all hours of the day, I’m able to avoid burnout.
But it’s more than just learning the craft, it’s also learning the interview process. A quality candidate needs personality, charm, and a little bit of moxie. Coming from a sales background, I know how to sell myself to an employer, plus my experience with interviewing has allowed me to alter my responses to common interview questions, which is a big plus. But I need to go further.
- How about reaching out to employers who passed on me, asking for constructive criticism?
- How about searching LinkedIn to see who the company decided to choose for the position and examining their skills and background?
- What if I create marketing samples for the company I want to work for rather than showing past work?
Rejection is a part of the process; the key is how to handle it. Before, I would be disappointed for an hour and then move on to another application, which is a positive response by itself, but is a lateral move rather than progress. Instead of viewing frequent rejection as a negative, I see it now as an example. I see as an opportunity to reevaluate my responses interview questions, my research on the company beforehand, and my overall demeanor. Even though I’ve interviewed roughly 40 times and landed two jobs after college, I consider myself lucky because I’ve been able to grow and adjust my responses and personality.
Now that I’ve covered self-reflection and adopted new tactics, it’s time to go on the offensive.
4. Look Forward, Not Behind
It’s been established that my work experience leaves much to be desired and I’d make up for that with off-the-clock experience, but let’s take it a step further.
Instead of viewing job responsibilities based off previous experience, I’ll take a proactive approach by completing duties listed on the application.
- Looking for a social media strategist? I’ll create a social media calendar for the next three months.
- Looking for a Marketing Associate? I’ll create a communications audit of the company, provide a marketing plan, and write a blog about referral marketing strategies
- Looking for a Content Editor? I’ll create a plan detailing website ideas to drive traffic and retain clients or customers.
The key is to walk into the interview with more knowledge than a 15-minute Google search of the company in my car beforehand. An applicant with a good head on his shoulders, a marketing plan for the company, and a couple blog ideas will have a far greater advantage for the position. But first, I need to get my foot in the door.
5. Get The Word Out
As useful as these steps are, none of them matter if I’m not able to utilize available communication avenues. If I’m going to succeed in the marketing industry, I have to effectively communicate my skills and value to employers. As previously established, just applying on Indeed is no longer acceptable, I need to go the extra mile to find a quality marketing job.
A great tactic I’ll employ is to become a bit of a pest. After finding some companies where I want to work and drafting hypothetical work samples for them, I need to utilize any and all channels that will reach them. Instead of applying on Indeed or ZipRecruiter, I’ll go to the company website and find an email for general inquiries. I’ll find the company’s marketing team on LinkedIn and Twitter and send them a message so they can at least put a face to my resume.
I can also use this tactic for networking purposes. Those with marketing positions obviously know what skills are necessary to succeed, so I can look to them for tips and criticism for job applications. If a company I want to work for doesn’t have a position available at the moment, I can at least put my name on their radar by reaching out and asking some marketing questions or to meet up in person.
What Have We Learned?
Nobody will give you a job just because you really want it. Those who deserve the job show their passion and skills rather than just stating them in a cover letter. This goes double for the marketing industry. A good marketer knows to read in between the lines of the application process. using unconventional methods to put themselves in the crosshairs. Now that I am employing these tactics, I will stand a better chance to finally make my mark in the career I desire.