How to land your first marketing job

about this post…

If you listen to our marketing podcast, then you know that we talk a little bit about anything that relates to marketing – all while we drink beer. Yet, one of the reasons why we started this podcast is to help the emerging marketing professional and we dedicate at least one segment on every episode to this type of listener.  To provide more value to our followers, we decided to create this guide on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to land your first marketing job. Last, we’ll do our best to keep this article updated with relevant content.

Below are answers to the most common questions we get from aspiring marketers.

How to get hired in marketing

What type of marketing company do I want to work for?

To simplify, you can narrow it down to two different types of companies: “Agency or Client Side”.

We covered the difference of these and our experiences in Episode #002 but here are the cliff notes:

Agency

Typically, a marketing agency provides professional “marketing” services and or products to different businesses (often in different markets). In this case, the customer is a business who purchases the marketing product or service from the agency.

There is a wide range of marketing agencies. Some offer niche services to a specific market and others do almost everything in all markets. Therefore, agencies are very diverse and can be a great place to start a marketing career.

Advantages of an agency:

  • Opportunity  to learn and implement a wide range of marketing campaigns for different types of businesses.
  • Most agencies seek out entry level people to join their staff.
  • Generally, an agency is usually an easier option to land your first job.


Things to consider:

  • Marketing agencies are extremely busy. More customers + less costs = profitability. Therefore, most agencies run lean as possible and that means “BUSY”. Nearly every agency’s motto: “We Work Hard, We Play Hard”
  • Burnout is a common problem for most agencies and they usually don’t pay as high as client side companies. Therefore, an agency typically has a higher turnover rate.
Client Side
On the client side, the marketing initiatives are solely focused on growing the business and brand that you work for. This allows more in depth marketing strategies that fit specific goals.

Advantages of client side:

  • The marketing campaigns for a client side marketer are usually more focused. Therefore, they usually require a specific skill set (design, advertising, SEO, content, etc.).
  • Turnover is less of a threat and because a specific skill set is required or learned – usually client side pays more than an agency.
  • All companies are busy, but you’re more likely to have a consistent work/life balance with regular hours (40 hr work week).
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Things to consider:

  • Generally, it’s a bit more competitive to land a job for an entry level marketing position. There are more client side options then agencies but it’s more common for them to only hire experienced marketing professionals.

What kind of knowledge/skills do I need?

Knowledge and skill can be learned on the job, yet it’s extremely beneficial to have a baseline grasp, skillset, or at least a strong interest that’s relatable to the job opportunity. 

Here is a list of common marketing skills that will help you start a marketing career:

  • Design. This includes graphic design, branding, and/or website design. These individuals usually have an artistic eye or an equivalent strong knowledge in art fundamentals.  
  • Content & copywriting. Writing skills is likely the most common asset in nearly all aspects of marketing. Content writing focuses on blogging and articles. Whereas a copywriter creates smaller pieces like content for ads.
  • Customer service – account management. These are common positions at marketing agencies where you manage the relationship and often the overall success of the marketing campaigns for the customer. 
  • Project management. This requires task management skills to make sure all the components of a marketing campaign are completed correctly and on time. 
  • Analytics. Spreadsheets and the ability to read and tell a story based on numbers is a critical and powerful skill in the world of marketing. 
  • Website and software development. There is a wide range of developers from websites to software and apps. These skills are always in high demand.  
  • Social media. Growing an audience and selling to an audience on a social media platform through organic and paid content is an attractive marketing skill. 
  • Advertising. This involves all types of channels from digital to media. This also covers a wide range of skill sets from analytics to creativity. A successful advertiser typically has multiple marketing abilities and truly understands their audience.
  • Video/media. Video is a specific form of content but unique enough that it usually requires a unique skill.

Do I need marketing experience?

Real hands-on experience; “no”. 

Something relatable to the job; “yes” – at least it’s very beneficial. 

If you don’t have experience, then this is what we recommend:

  • Create your own experience. In this day and age, there shouldn’t be anything that should stop you from generating your own experience. Sell something online, create a website, help a small business with their social media, start a blog, vlog, etc… The possibilities are endless. Then create a portfolio or document your work in a case study so you can show what you achieved and what you learned. 
  • Internships? “yes”!
  • Mentorships? “yes”! 
  • Certifications? “yes”! Google Career Certifications, LinkedIn Courses, Udemy, etc.
  • Should you include these in your resume? Abso-freakin-lutely!

Do I need a degree?

Do I need a college degree? “no”. 

Does a degree help? “yes”, of course it does. 

If you don’t have a degree then just know that experience trumps education in any career. Therefore, if you do not have a degree then double down on creating your own experience.

Advantages of a “marketing” degree. Universities are getting closer to providing updated and relevant education to modern digital marketers. Some universities are offering enough skill sets that can help a student quickly transverse into the workforce. Therefore, “marketing” degrees are starting to become a unique advantage for entry-level marketing positions. 

Can an MBA or Master’s degree help my career? Having an MBA or not having one is not a required recipe to have a successful marketing career. Nor is it necessary to be a marketing leader – such as a manager, director, VP, or CMO. An MBA is more of a personal journey that can challenge you to think strategically. Yet, the value or desire to get one is completely dependent on the individual. 

Any tips for a resume?

Make your resume and make it awesome.

An entry level marketing job is usually quite competitive so just making a resume and hoping for the best is not enough. Rather, you need to make your resume standout! 

This is our top three questions we get about resumes:

  • Should I use a template? Templates are fine, but again you need to stand out. A resume is different from a job application – you are not just answering questions. Therefore, use a template as a general guide only. 
  • What do I include in the resume? Include your experience, skills, etc. Most of all, show your value. You need to give the interviewer a reason to read your resume and a reason for them to call you. Making your resume specific to the job and the job description is a great way to show that you qualify for an interview. 
  • Do I include a cover letter? If the position asks for one, then always “yes”. Yet, a traditional CV isn’t always required. An alternative option is providing the interviewer a brief reason (separate from the resume) on why they should interview you with a visual (video, case study, example, etc.)
    Here is an example of an old/outdated video that I used in a cover letter that led to getting my first job at a marketing agency. <Jesse’s Marketing Funnel>

How do I find entry-level marketing jobs?

Any job site is a great place to find marketing positions. However, you might find while searching on a job site that “marketing” is a common keyword and doesn’t always relate to an actual “marketing” position.  

Here is what to avoid:

  • Sales positions. Sales and marketing positions are always confused. To avoid any sales positions then exclude those that mention these terms in the title or description: “sales”, field marketing, “Sports Minded Individuals” and “Management Training Position”. 
  • Group interviews. Any company that mentions a group interview, is usually related to an entry-level sales opportunity. 

What to look for:

  • Relevant position titles: “marketing coordinator”, “marketing analyst”, “marketing specialist”, “marketing assistant”, “communications specialist, “community manager”, “demand generation specialist”, etc. Unfortunately, job titles are not consistent and vary from company to company. 
  • The right years of experience. A true entry-level marketing job is typically 1-3 years of experience. In most cases, this is just a reference for the ideal candidate. If you have “0” years of experience, then show what you have done. (marketing degree, internship, portfolio, case study, etc.)

I got an interview, now what?

Everything written above was to get you to this point. Now, it’s game-time. 

This is what we recommend for an interview:

  • Dress to impress. Yes, this is still a thing and still relevant for entry-level positions. After you get a job, then you can dress according to the job’s culture. However, in an interview, you’re representing your best self, so look sharp.
  • Bring a pad and paper to the interview with notes. Having notes ready shows that you are prepared. Taking notes during the interview shows that you are interested and serious about the position. 
  • Have insightful questions ready. A sequence of questions that start about the goals of the company and how the position you’re applying for can reach those goals shows that you are thinking about how you can contribute to make a difference.
  • Have meaningful questions for you ready. A job interview is as much for you to interview your potential employer as it is for them to interview you. If something like “culture” is important to you, then ask.
  • Don’t be shy about asking for a salary either. – This deserves its own bullet point.  
  • Always follow up. Follow up with everyone who interviewed you and thank them for their time and that you look forward to the next steps. If it’s not the right fit, still follow up. You never know who’s path you’ll cross in the future. 
Jesse McFarland

Jesse McFarland

Host, Beer Guzzler, and Agency Guy.

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Kirill Kniazev

Kirill Kniazev

Host, Beer Lover, and Client Side Dude.

LinkedIn

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