This post is dedicated to all my fellow recent marketing graduates who are still struggling to land their first entry level position. I have been in a similar situation, graduating back in October and looking for several months without any luck. Eventually, I did manage to land my first marketing position which is why I’m writing this post today. No matter how rough it looks, as long you continue focusing on your end goal, you’ll make it.
Hopefully these tips will be of use for any other struggling, or soon to be graduates!
Job Hunting Tips for a New Marketing Graduate
Customize Your Resume
You’ll see this pretty much anywhere when it comes to career advice, but what does it really mean? When applying for a marketing job, tailor your resume for the specific position.
Don’t bother wasting space by writing out how you work well within a team environment, or that you can use Microsoft Office (it’s expected you have these basic skills). Instead, list out your technical skills like analyzing data from analytics, or optimizing for local SEO which are much more relevant to the actual job posting.
You aren’t given a ton of time and space when a recruiter is scanning through your resume, so make it stand out. Let them know you have the skills that they are looking for!
When listing your previous work experience, avoid listing every single job you’ve worked in the past. Chances are, the employer doesn’t care that you worked as a cashier at your local convenience store back in high school.
Try to only list relevant experience, even if it was in the form of a school project. Seeing that you actually have experience in the marketing field will definitely improve your chances more than showing that you’ve worked as a cashier in the past (unless you’re going into sales).
Apply to Everywhere
Now that your resume is spruced up, the next step is actually applying to jobs. You’re competing with hundreds of other people for these limited entry level positions. My advice here is to just apply for everything that interests you, or which you wouldn’t mind doing.
Remember, just because you applied somewhere, it doesn’t mean you’ve gotten the job already. You still have to be screened against the other applicants, before getting a phone interview, and even an in person interview before securing that job. Don’t waste your time dwelling over one job posting, otherwise you could be wasting weeks for a hopeless cause.
Don’t fret if you don’t meet all of the requirements in the job posting. Chances are, no one will be exactly what they’re looking for. Requirements are just used as a general guideline to filter out under qualified candidates and make it easier for the recruiters.
Apply to everywhere, and worry about the details after you’ve been contacted for an interview.
Contact People Within the Company
With everything being online nowadays, it doesn’t take much effort to locate your potential future boss’ email. Try sending a message to them directly and bypass the HR department. This is not only more personal, while showing initiative, but it also gives you a chance to pitch yourself before being screened out.
No offense to HR and recruiters, but many of them just follow what they’re told, and may not understand what makes you so special. I’ve personally had many calls in which I try to explain my SEO knowledge and experience, only to be met with clueless responses and being rejected on my lack of work experience alone.
Accept Every Interview
This was something that really helped me with my job hunt. The interview itself is another major hurdle when it comes to job searching. Coming fresh out of school without any real work experience, I had never been exposed to an interview setting before. I pretty much took every interview opportunity I could get in order to practice my speaking skills, and selling myself as a candidate.
While my first few interviews didn’t lead to anywhere, I always reflected on what I did wrong, and areas in which I could improve on. When I finally got into more serious interviews, for positions I was really interested in, I could handle myself in a professional manner, and convey my points clearly.
Obviously you should feel free to turn down interviews in sketchy basements, but take on any opportunities within a reasonable distance from you.
Follow Up With Leads
Here’s another thing that is often overlooked. There were countless times in which I went to an interview, only to never hear back from the employer. While I can only assume I wasn’t chosen for the position, I wasted several days or weeks, holding out hope that they’d contact me.
Everyone is busy with their own lives, especially employers. Chances are they may have forgotten about you, or didn’t want to spend the time writing up a rejection letter. This is where it’s up to you to take the initiative and keep in contact with them. While you might be afraid of coming off as needy or too pushy, the employer would probably appreciate you following up with them to make their lives easier.
Worst case scenario, they ignore your follow up, or they reject you, at which point you can just move on with your job hunt. Even better, your follow up can show your eagerness for the position and may leave a positive impression on the hirer.
Don’t just sit around waiting for everything to fall into your lap. If you want something in life, you have to pursue it relentlessly.
Staying Positive & Reflecting
As simple as this may sound, getting constantly rejected will definitely have some effect on your confidence levels. There will be days where you’re discouraged and will want to give up.
For me, I viewed job hunting as an ongoing process. Every application I sent out, phone call I got, and interview I attended were used as a learning process. I could definitely notice that as time progressed, I was inching closer and closer to nailing that interview, and securing my first job.
After every rejection, I would always briefly reflect on what I did wrong and where I could improve upon so that I could continue moving forward.
Was I too nervous in the interview?
Did I explain why I was a good fit for the role?
What separated me from other candidates?
You have to ask yourself questions like these at the end of the day to identify your flaws. After you’ve figured out where you messed up, then you can begin working on your weaknesses and improving yourself.
Teach Yourself the Skills
Finding it difficult to land your first marketing job? Why not create your own opportunity to get hands on experience in the industry?
Nowadays, there are so many different areas of marketing, with digital being a major focus. With the internet, there is an endless source for knowledge in the field. You can easily teach yourself the basics of social media, public relations, search engine optimization, and other areas of digital marketing from just a bit of reading and experimenting.
Heck, I was a fool and didn’t work an internship during my university career, which is why I made the effort to learn on my own. From reading, I learned the basic concepts of SEO, and then created my own sites for me to apply the theory.
Starting these personal projects definitely helped with my career search by giving me hands on “work” experience. It also impressed a lot of potential employers since they could see that I had some experience in the field, and results to show.
At the end of the day, job hunting is basically selling yourself to a company. Be active on all of the popular social media platforms and get your name out there. Make your own personal portfolio or domain, so that when an employer looks into you, they’ll see that you aren’t just a nobody.
Take a look at a recent grad from my neck of the woods who started a viral marketing campaign to land herself a position in a subsidiary of one of the largest marketing conglomerates in the world. You’re a marketing student, be creative, stir up a buzz, and get noticed!
To Sum Up
Remember, anyone can send in an application. You’re just one of hundreds of other people, from similar backgrounds, all competing for the same position, As a marketing student you have to be able to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing, be unique and creative to catch a company’s attention.
Landing that first marketing job will probably be one of your greatest challenges career wise. It’s a huge change from going from a student to working full time, and not really having a clear direction to go.
Take a proactive approach to your job search and do everything you possibly can to break into the industry and you’ll find it to be a much smoother journey after you’ve gotten your first job!