I was in my final semester of college studying marketing. I had already applied to dozens and dozens of jobs but one of two things was happening.
Most would never reply and I was left wondering. Or, the ones that did reply told me that I didn’t have the required experience they needed. “Come back when you’ve got a few more years of marketing experience under you belt,” they would say.
This was infuriating.
I needed to get experience so I could get a job, but I couldn’t get experience without a marketing job! What was I supposed to do?
Eventually, I managed to land a great job at Disruptive Advertising, so it all eventually worked out, but this experience got me thinking. Now that I actually have marketing experience, what would I recommend to someone who is in the same position I was in right after college?
After giving it some thought, I’ve come up with a list of things that I think can help any inexperienced (or even unexperienced) new marketer stand out from the crowd:
1. Take the Google Analytics Certification Exam
Basic analytics knowledge is a must for marketing positions these days. Fortunately, Google makes it fairly easy to learn how to set up marketing analytics and obtain a certification you can put on your resume with their Google Analytics Certification Exam.
The study materials include 4 units with 3-5 videos per unit. Assessments are included at the end of each unit to make sure you know your stuff. The exam currently has around 70 multiple choice questions and a score of 80% or higher is required to pass.
2. Take the Adwords Certification Exam
Similarly, taking the Google AdWords Certification Exam is another great way to show that you’re willing to go the extra mile and develop your marketing skills on your own time.
It’s also a great way to stand out to a potential employer because many people are intimidated by AdWords and other online marketing platforms. If you take the initiative to get yourself certified you will be one big step ahead of the applicants who didn’t. Oh yeah, and it’s also free, which is important when you don’t, you know, have a job…
3. Develop Your Writing Skills
If you think about it, we pay people to do things we aren’t willing to do ourselves. Most people don’t want to go to 12 years of college to become a doctor, so they pay doctors who were willing to invest that time into developing the necessary skills.
So, anytime you can find a valuable skill that people avoid developing, you’ve found a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Writing is definitely one of those skills. Content creation is a big part of marketing, which makes good writing an important part of any marketing effort. But, most people don’t like writing, so developing your writing skills and confidence is an easy way to set yourself apart from other new marketers.
Ideas to improve in this area include: keep a journal, start a blog, enter writing contests (you’ll be surprised how many exist in your area) or make it a habit to spend ten minutes each day completing a a creative writing prompt (my personal favorite).
4. Learn From Experts
While marketing tools, platforms and opportunities are constantly changing and evolving, marketing principles stay basically the same. The better you understand the principles behind marketing and the big players in the marketing world, the more competent and invested you will seem in your interviews.
With that in mind, Google “top 5 marketing books” and read the books that come up first. Write your key takeaways so that you can discuss them in interviews. Discussing big thinkers in the business world will give you more credibility.
5. Make Your Own Content
Don’t have any real-world experience? Go get some! Pick your favorite brand and pretend that you are responsible for creating their next ad campaign. Practice making ads with engaging copy (text) and stunning images.
There are hundreds of tutorials on how to use Photoshop. If you don’t have Photoshop, use pixlr (it’s free). If pixlr is too much to handle for your current skill level, then try out Canva. If that free do-it-yourself service isn’t working out then give up and move back in with your parents…
Although creating your own marketing content isn’t quite as good as actually working as a marketer, it does show initiative and help you build a portfolio of campaigns and ads you can use in resumes and job applications. Plus, it helps you develop more relevant marketing skills, which can give you a leg up on other candidates.
6. Get a Mentor
Okay, this isn’t direct marketing experience but, still in the context of getting a marketing job, I highly recommend finding a mentor in your field. Mentors can help you answer difficult questions, give you feedback on your work, connect you with other marketing experts and help you develop some essential marketing skills.
These days, getting a job is often less a matter of how good your resume is and more the result of who you know. So, if you can find a decent mentor, you can both pad your resume and get access to valuable connections. It’s a double win!
Honestly, if I had two candidates, both with limited experience, I am much more likely to hire the guy who has been proactive in acquiring marketing skills. I want “go-getters” on my team.
I’m not the only potential employer who thinks that way. As a new graduate, your biggest selling point isn’t what you’ve done, it’s who you are. If you can convince people that you’re a motivated self-starter who just needs to be pointed in the right direction, they’ll have a hard time not hiring. Technical skills can be taught, but drive and business instinct are a lot harder to teach. Good luck!
What has your experience with job applications and interviews been like? Do you have any tips to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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