11 Essential Tips for Landing Your First Job in Marketing
Getting your first job in marketing can be a daunting task. To help you navigate this challenge, we’ve gathered eleven insightful tips from top industry professionals, including CEOs and marketing managers. From gaining certifications and creating a digital project to exploring various offers and industries, these experts share their best advice for landing your first job in marketing.
- 1 Gain Certifications and Create a Digital Project
- 2 Specialize in a Specific Marketing Area
- 3 Analyze Marketing Campaigns and Activations
- 4 Build a Personal Marketing Portfolio
- 5 Prioritize Internships for Experience
- 6 Combine Hands-On Experience With Data-Driven Decisions
- 7 Stand Out With Innovative Ideas
- 8 Cultivate a Strong Online Presence
- 9 Embrace New Opportunities in Marketing
- 10 Understand and Enhance the Company’s Marketing Efforts
- 11 Explore Various Offers and Industries
Gain Certifications and Create a Digital Project
Earning certifications in days can help build a mental map of the marketing landscape, which can be beneficial during interviews. If time allows, it’s recommended to put newfound knowledge into action immediately.
The digital marketing realm is ever-evolving, so creating something digitally that aligns with the job being applied for can act as a portfolio. For instance, a lot of knowledge about SEO was gained through a personal blog. This is still a website used for practice, even after 9+ years.
Specialize in a Specific Marketing Area
When I graduated from college and entered the job market in 2006, digital marketing was in its infancy. There weren’t niche-specific marketing positions like there are today. Marketing roles fell into one of three buckets: digital marketing, graphic design, and web design. Social media, SEO, content marketing, PPC, and video marketing all fell under the responsibility of a digital marketing manager.
So, I became a marketing generalist, which, by today’s standards, meant I was a jack of all marketing trades but a master of none.
Today’s marketing jobs are specialized—and growing more so every day. For example, jobs for social media managers have grown into hyper-focused roles that are now platform-specific, such as Instagram content writer and TikTok video editor.
After a decade in marketing, I naturally gravitated toward and excelled in the areas of marketing that I liked best. However, if I had honed in on those areas earlier on in my career, I would have had years of focused experience.
Analyze Marketing Campaigns and Activations
When you next see a campaign or activation you really respond to (either positively or negatively), make a note. When was it happening? Where did it take place? Were you moved to click through or simply click away? Was it visually engaging, or was it the copy that really drew you in?
By having a bank of these reference points, you’ll be able to draw on them in interviews and future roles and show your appreciation and interest in the different aspects of marketing as a role.
Build a Personal Marketing Portfolio
My top tip for someone trying to land their first job in marketing is to build a personal portfolio that shows their understanding of the field and their creativity.
This could include marketing strategies for hypothetical or real businesses, case studies analyzing successful marketing campaigns, or examples of social media content and how it could engage an audience.
A well-crafted portfolio showcases your skills and understanding, as well as your initiative and passion for marketing.
Prioritize Internships for Experience
One important tip for individuals seeking their first job in marketing is to prioritize finding internships. Internships, whether paid or unpaid, offer priceless experience and polish your skills, which can significantly enhance your resume.
These opportunities serve as stepping stones towards securing a permanent position and provide valuable learning experiences by exposing you to real-world marketing scenarios.
Combine Hands-On Experience With Data-Driven Decisions
Nothing speaks louder than hands-on experience coupled with data-driven decision-making. Start a project of your own; it could be a blog, a social media campaign, or even a simple website. Your goal is to experiment, learn, and create a tangible showcase of your skills.
Explain your strategies and why you made specific choices. Did you choose a particular blog design to drive user engagement? Or a specific social media strategy to increase followers? Perhaps a PPC campaign to boost website visits?
A 2020 study by the Data & Marketing Association highlighted that 83% of employers value candidates who can demonstrate the use of data in their decision-making process. By combining the practical experience of running a project with the analytical rigor of decision-making based on data, you can position yourself as a unique asset to any marketing team.
Stand Out With Innovative Ideas
Even if you have no marketing experience, come up with ideas!
Marketing is all about ideating and executing strategies across a range of marketing mediums. The best thing (that I believe) a potential employee can do when they don’t have too much experience is to do research and come up with their own ideas.
These ideas may vary based on the type of role you’re trying to land. For example, if you’re looking to get into design, come up with concepts and creatives that the organization has not used.
If you’re looking to get into paid media, look on Facebook Ad Library, Google Ad Library, or TikTok Ad Library and give feedback and concepts for how you might do things differently. And if you’re looking to get into web design, create a mock-up landing page to show the business.
There are countless resources and ways in which prospective marketers can stand out from the crowd. It all boils down to the ideas that you can bring to the table, no matter how great or how small.
Cultivate a Strong Online Presence
One essential tip for someone seeking their first job in marketing is to cultivate a robust online presence. In this digital age, your online persona can serve as an interactive resume.
Showcase your ability to create compelling content, engage with audiences, and build a strong personal brand. This not only displays your understanding of the digital landscape but also your initiative and creativity.
Remember, marketing is all about connecting with people and influencing behavior. Your online presence can be a powerful demonstration of your ability to do precisely that.
Embrace New Opportunities in Marketing
In the world of marketing, the world really is your oyster, meaning that there is an abundance of opportunities to learn, grow, and try new things to advance your marketing strategy. My best piece of advice would be to say yes to trying new things.
Whether it’s your first job out of college, your first time working in the marketing space, or an opportunity in a new marketing role, your willingness to try new things and explore new areas of the industry can set you up for more success in the future.
The world of marketing is ever-changing, so your willingness to try new things can help set you apart from others, remain competitive in the industry, keep up with new trends, and reach new heights in your career.
Understand and Enhance the Company’s Marketing Efforts
We interview new marketing folks regularly, and we absolutely love it when someone takes the time to look into our current marketing activities and suggests how they can contribute to improving them.
When applying for a marketing job, it’s vital to understand the company’s ongoing marketing efforts. This way, you can tailor your application to meet their specific needs and even highlight areas where they could enhance their strategies during the interview.
It’s a win-win situation! Not only does it show your dedication to aligning with the company’s requirements, but it also shows your proactive and innovative approach.
Explore Various Offers and Industries
Be open to various offers and industries. It is a common misconception that B2B marketing is boring. Maybe it has been so because traditionally, younger, fresh job-seekers in marketing are looking for sexier, more exciting e-commerce or startup jobs.
Don’t limit yourself to one sphere; keep an eye out for unique opportunities. If a company does not yet have a shining marketing strategy, it offers a great place to learn, make mistakes, optimize, and build your portfolio.
So, if you see an opening that doesn’t tick all your boxes, it can provide other invaluable experiences e.g., networking opportunities, hands-on activities in different marketing aspects, and a chance to see what you really like to specialize in marketing.