How many of us know exactly what field we want to spend the rest of our professional lives in? As it turns out, the number isn’t too high. Nearly half of the workforce has made a drastic shift in their career trajectory, according to a recent report from Indeed. Whatever the underlying cause for a work transition is—be it more flexible benefits or a lack of personal engagement with their current responsibilities—the end goal is a happier and more driven person at work. It can be tough to successfully find your first marketing job.
For the right type of person, a career switch to marketing is one marked by engaging work, competitive salaries, and great opportunities to climb the professional ladder. Because the world of marketing is so vast and differentiated, this industry is home to a wide array of people and backgrounds.
This means that there is no singular path to transitioning to marketing. You may have a background in creative work or have a penchant for developing results-driven marketing campaigns.
That being said, you aren’t the only one who has their eye on a new marketing position. Of the more than 25,000 students who graduated with marketing degrees a few years back, fewer than one in 5,000 found jobs where they were directly applying what they learned in school.
Successfully securing a new marketing position means applying and interviewing against a large talent pool. This task becomes increasingly difficult the less marketing experience you have.
This is how to successfully find your first marketing job
If you’re serious about switching career paths and entering the world of marketing, you should learn how to stand out against the competition. Here are 5 tips to help you started in marketing and successfully find your first marketing job.
1. Narrow your scope
Perhaps you’ve spoken to a friend who works with digital ad campaigns. Or maybe you follow some marketing-savvy influencers on your social media. At this point, all you know is that marketing seems like a great fit. It matches your skills and work experience.
Unfortunately, your decision shouldn’t stop there. Enjoying a career in marketing means choosing a specific facet of the industry and building relevant proficiencies from there. It’s easier to think of marketing as an umbrella term. Marketing encompasses a broad scope of functions all related to marketing, promoting, or selling products and services.
First comes the division between digital and traditional marketing. Though they rely on the same guiding principles, the channels differ. It’s the difference between a social media post and an ad printed in a newspaper.
Traditional marketing still does play a role in connecting consumers to brands. Its piece in the larger marketing strategy pie is only getting narrower. Trends over the past several years indicate that although spend has increased incrementally for traditional channels, digital marketing budgets have seen visible growth and yielded larger returns.
In terms of sustainable career options, digital marketing is the best path forward for many. Even those who are interested in traditional marketing should be aware of digital marketing strategies.
4 digital marketing categories
You can break digital marketing down further into four distinct categories:
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Paid channel advertising
The functions of each branch certainly overlap with one another. Having a sense of the intent behind each one can help you specialize in your marketing expertise. It can make you a more attractive marketing candidate.
2. Start with marketing certifications
You need work experience to find and land your first marketing job. In order to gain said experience you need a job. It’s a catch 22. Even entry-level positions are guilty of experience requirements that stretch far beyond what most people learn in school.
What can you do about it? If you’re not having any luck with your current job search efforts, you may want to consider taking top digital marketing certifications. A good number of marketing certifications are completely free. They take fewer than three to four days to complete. They are a low-risk investment in both time and money.
Some great places to start with digital marketing certifications include:
- Google Analytics Certification
- Hootsuite Platform Certification
- HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification
- HubSpot Content Marketing Certification
- Moz Free SEO Training Course
Many of these digital marketing certifications offer direct experience with a particular marketing tool or technology. This means you’ll have information that directly relates to the work that digital marketers do on a day-to-day basis.
Marketing certifications and classes that focus on a specific subsection of marketing will also help you identify the areas of marketing that you find the most engaging. Not all digital marketing certifications are created equal so it’s important to understand your “why.” In addition to certifications, you should read a lot of digital marketing books.
3. Prepare for a possible relocation
Though it’s not always necessary, a strategic relocation to a city with a high demand for marketing work can further increase your chances of landing a marketing job. New York City, for example, lists over 3,000 marketing positions in a single year. Other major cities such as Philadelphia, San Diego, Houston, and Los Angeles are equally full of opportunity.
Close proximity to these marketing “hot spots” certainly help your chances with employers seeking local marketing talent. It also allows you to network with other professionals in the area. This often leads to all kinds of viable opportunities down the road.
Before you rent out a moving truck and stow your belongings in boxes, it’s important to approach a career-based move as strategically as possible. First, you should scope out the general cost of living, paying special attention to the amount of space you can actually afford on a marketing salary. Calculating your cost of living also means estimating the amount you’ll have to spend on transportation to and from work. Also, consider the average grocery bill you should expect each week and the local and state tax rates.
Cost of living calculations will help you live within your means. They will aid you when it comes time to negotiate your salary offer. Without having an idea beforehand of how much you’ll need to afford your lifestyle, you’ll be hard-pressed to accurately estimate whether or not your proposed income is sufficient.
4. Apply knowledge in a practical environment
At this point, you’ve focused your research on a few designated marketing channels. You have garnered a wide array of online certifications. You have eyed a new city to call home. Even with all of this preparation under your belt, there’s still a chance that your resume gets thrown in the reject pile. More often than not, it’s because you don’t yet have hands-on experience in marketing.
Marketing is an industry that values direct, hands-on experience over an understanding of abstract concepts. That means you need to prove that you not only understand the founding principles of marketing strategies. You should also know how to practically apply them toward an organization’s goals and key objectives.
At this stage in your transition, it’s time to put what you’ve learned so far to practice. Even if that practice doesn’t come from a full-time, salaried position. Internships are an obvious place to start looking. Opportunities to cut your teeth expand far beyond work that typically is rewarded through class credits or low hourly pay.
Freelancing and a personal pet project
A great example is freelancing. With freelancing, you can charge a rate that makes you competitive based on your current experience. If hunting down client leads and drafting up statements of work doesn’t work for you, launch a personal pet project.
A personal project can give you the same level of direct work experience. In digital marketing, this arrives in the form of website optimization. As a marketer, you should buy a domain name or purchase an existing website. Then, work hard to market your website. Write blog articles, promote them via social media channels, and encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter.
When you learn how to market in a real-world environment, you can communicate those learning to your future employer. They will give you several actionable bullet points to include in your resume.
5. Market yourself
If employees are tools that a company uses to achieve its goals, then job interviews are a sales pitch. This is where you advocate for the value you will bring to the potential employer. To successfully find your first marketing job lies in your ability to market yourself.
Effective resumes, cover letters, and interviews are successful because they are able to tie personal achievements to a company’s goals. It’s not enough that you are passionate about the world of marketing. How does this passion make you capable of boosting conversion rates, improving brand awareness, and generating more leads?
Bringing it all together
Put the hard work into understanding the ins and outs of marketing. Now is the best time to show all that you bring to the table. With the right tenacity, strategy, and knowledge, you’ll be fully equipped to leave your mark on the world of marketing. And you’ll find a fulfilling marketing career.