Part of my work for clients often involves hiring marketers (or newbie marketers) to slot into their businesses.This year alone I’d say I’ve looked at more than 100 CVs, interviewed 30 marketers and hired three people to help support the marketing function in various capacities.
The one thing I’ve found consistently is the lack of marketing effort these candidates are making at the start of their marketing career. Now this isn’t a criticism; when I left University I had no idea what I wanted to go into. I threw around the word “Publishing” because I liked books and my idea of an extracurricular activity was going to Tiger Tiger twice a week. But now I’m older and wiser, and have seen what the generation of upcoming marketers have to offer, I feel like there are some really obvious things you should be doing if you want a marketing career. I’m also guessing that the only reason these candidates aren’t doing them, is because no one’s ever suggested them.
Remember: at the beginning of any job interview process the interviewer has nothing to go on about your ability or future potential, outside of what you tell them. For that reason, there are a few “tells” we look for. Here, in my opinion, are the most important ones.
You don’t always need a traditional route but you do need a base knowledge
This may surprise you but I often don’t hire the most experienced marketer. Marketing is one of the careers where you don’t necessarily have to have a marketing degree or even qualification. Many of the best marketers I work with and admire don’t and neither do I. A traditional route isn’t expected, but you should be able to show a passion for marketing, plus the ability to learn.
You need to show that you know what a marketing career entails and that you’re looking to better your knowledge all the time. I don’t care if you’ve never used a CMS, Google Analytics or SEO, but I do care if you don’t even know what these basic terms mean. You could literally listen to one marketing podcast or read one marketing article to learn them so it’s a warning bell to me when candidates haven’t even tried. Regardless of whether they do or don’t, have the marketing experience to use them.
Tech City, a government funded programme, also offer free courses with the Digital Business Academy which cover pretty much anything you could wish to know. Check them out here.
Read industry blogs and trends
Similar to above, if you think you might want to go into marketing, pick a few industry blogs and spend five minutes each day reading them. If you can’t get excited about reading a marketing blog prior to having a marketing career, you’re really going to struggle. My personal favourites in terms of most digestible are:
Do your own marketing
My last full-time role before I went freelance was as a Content Manager for Dove. The reason I got this role, despite my lack of “official” experience in corporate project management, was because I’d started a blog a year earlier. My blog (still live here if you’re interested) covered all manner of topics but the agency hiring me felt I embodied the tone of voice Dove was trying to achieve.
Whether you’re at Uni, looking to change careers or just get on the ladder, start your own marketing project. It could be a public Instagram account where you share beautiful images you’ve curated, a Twitter account where you discuss marketing, a blog or a photography website. Basically anywhere you can practice your marketing and show a bit more about your personality. I can’t tell you what a difference this makes.
Don’t be afraid to have ideas
One of the things many of us do when trying to get a job is to come across as “agreeable”. Now don’t get me wrong, going into a job interview ready to tell a company that you think their website is awful is not the way to go. But one thing you can do, is to have a few ideas about things in the general marketing domain.
One company I love called Drift, ask their potential Product Managers to tell them what they’d fix about Twitter. This is a great opportunity to show your insight in marketing and how well you know the channels or the company you’re attempting to work for.
- Show an interest in marketing – read up on basic jargon and learn what the key principles are
- Follow industry blogs and Podcasts – keep up to date with what’s happening (especially important in social media)
- Get a side project running that will make you stand out from the competition
- Have some ideas and questions ready for interview – show you’ve researched the company and that you’re passionate about working there
If you have any otter questions about getting into marketing feel free to email them to me on email@example.com and I’ll do my best to answer them or direct you to someone who can!