How does a mid twenties female BA grad get a job in marketing?
March 10, 2014 12:25 PM   Subscribe

How can I increase my chances of getting a lower level marketing position (coordinator, PR, etc)? Bonus marks, walk me through the process as if I'm dumb to see if there's anything I'm overlooking or point me towards resources to help me sound more professional.

I didn't exactly intend for my experience to put me there, but it seems like what I'm qualified to do involves marketing, especially writing and the whole business of web marketing.

My experience-

* B2B advertising company, moved from sales floor to accounts receivable but also did data entry and research for them
* Marketing internship (traditional methods because public elementary schools booking free performers was their mainstay)
* Marketing research data collection agency call centre- I was data collection quality control and trained people until they had better scores
* Features editor at the school paper- basically proved I could turn out content on schedule
* BA from prestigious university, with a focus on voting behavior and psychology
* Worked as an everything for a year at a digital marketing firm, but really hit my stride as a copywriter/editor- although they also asked me to do sales and web analytics
* Have been doing little fragments of freelance writing as I go- web content, brochure content, etc...

Bonus challenge-

I actually have additional experience as a fairly successful blogger (and social media promoter) and RL community organizer in the BDSM scene- any way to present this or capitalize on it or should I assume if the company is not involved in the adult industry it's better to let sleeping dogs lie?

The things I am finding a problem is that I literally have no idea what an effective application looks like, nor how to go about it- just answering web ads feels like dropping resumes into a well. I have a clinical diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome which means that a lot of "duh!" information for most people doesn't get picked up by me by osmosis and I don't come from a background where this sort of job seems to be on anyone's radar. For example I got told placement agencies will help, but the only ones I can find recruit for call centres so something about my search heuristics are broken.

So please walk me through-
-What should a marketing person have as far as skills, and what should they emphasize?
-What would an ideal application look like and how can I get noticed?
-What should a female marketer wear to an interview?
-How should I present samples of my work to best look professional?

I'm also hampered by the fact that I seem to be a generalist, not a specialist and I'm too early career to have many personal achievements- if I'm being honest "assisted" is the most accurate way to describe my successes- I tends to give valuable input but it's not like I can say I single-handedly designed or lead some initiative. I don't know how to phrase "good team player, I did my bit better than people expected" in a professional but suitably self promoting way.
posted by Phalene to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, the thing that threw me right for a loop was asking if you should tell prospective employers about your blog. NO! NO! NO! Private life is PRIVATE.

Now to get to your point. No matter where you work, you'll have to learn their version of whatever it is. So any software, or special programs, or even their methods of using standard things is going to be specific them.

You have a resume that is about 85% complete. For each job you apply for, you pretty much lift verbiage from their ad, and then you put it into your resume as part of your list of duties, or skills or experience.

You want a coordinator job, some sort of semi-entry-level position, so that you can learn a particular company's way of doing things, and then move up into a more specialized role.

Dress is trickier. You want to look professional, but you want to look like you fit in. One trick is to 'messanger' something to the office where you're applying. As you're waiting look around at what others are wearing. Is it formal? Is it hip? Is it casual? Take your cues from what current employees are wearing, and then dress in the same style, only slightly better. If you see slacks and shirts on ladies, add a jacket and you're good.

As for phrasing on a resume, say you worked on a project team. "Member of a team that developed the frammistanie campaign, which resulted in X new traffic to the company website."

Your resume should be bullet points of your successes. You can elaborate on them in the interview.

It sounds like you have a pretty good background, get more generalized experience and then move up!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:07 PM on March 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

You need to maximize your exposure to the places that need a person with your skills. This article might be helpful.

If you can quantify what you did for that year that you call 'did everything' - what traffic did you drive, by what % did revenue grow, metrics of stuff that you were involved with all will help.

A marketing person has as skills a knowledge of customer behavior and the ability to use that knowledge to influence a buying decision. So if you are an expert at content creation then show what kind of revenue growth was associated with that effort, what kind of traffic or pageviews, you have the opportunity to show how measurable this new world of marketing is.

Ruthless Bunny hit is right on regarding what to wear - just slightly better than what everyone else is wearing.

The goal of the cover letter / resume is to get the interview. The goal of the interview is to get a second one (if part of their process) or an offer. You will want several people with experience to give you feedback on your resume's effectiveness.

If you did any social media work in your professional life be sure to include that - very useful skill. However the advice to leave personal life out of work life is also right on.
posted by scooterdog at 1:46 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hire and train junior marketing people, both agency and in-house, with an emphasis on content. Here's what I look for.

First, I look for excellent communication skills, written, verbal or visual. Second, for an entry-level person, I look for enthusiasm, interest in building new skills, and some sort of achievement, even in extracurriculars or an unrelated job, that suggests a strong work ethic. Third, I look for signs of creativity, intellectual curiosity, or willingness to take risks that suggest the candidate could have interesting ideas several years down the road.

I'm not sure if resumes or CVs are the norm in Montreal (if that's still where you are), but Google or your college career center should be able to point you to appropriate formats. (Even if you are several years out of school, your college career center may still be able to help you.) Follow the format, and write a clear and short cover letter that pulls out the 2 or 3 pieces of experience you have that demonstrate you have the skills and attributes requested in the job ad. Use the same words that are used in the ad, e.g. if the ad says "self-starter with excellent attention to detail", write "My experience doing X at position Y demonstrates that I am a self-starter. I also exceeded expectations doing A at job B due to my excellent attention to detail."

Your resume and cover letter should be either a word document or PDF, and a plain text version should also be in the email or online application. The best way to present work samples is a very simple website with a brief bio and links to your samples, but email attachments will also work, so long as the files are small (i.e. under 1 MB). Bringing printed samples to your interview is nice, but not necessary, as you aren't a graphic designer. Be sure to take screenshots of any work samples on a client website, as that site will inevitably be updated and your work lost when it's least convenient for this to happen.

Do not worry too much about what to wear, as there's a pretty large range of acceptable. But generally speaking, a neutral skirt and blazer (not necessarily a suit) with a more colorful or patterned blouse or shell would be a good balance between professional and creative for a marketing interview.

Check your memail, there's a bit more there.
posted by psycheslamp at 10:30 PM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

OK. As a junior, you don't want a placement firm - that's for later in your career. Look at ad agencies, brand agencies and marketing departments of larger companies.

Have a content strategist/writer version of your resume (emphasizing your experience there) and a portfolio/blog of work you've done (that's not BSDM - but you can say in general skills that you've run hobbist blogs and social media, giving you experience in WordPress, SEO, etc, etc. in the skills section of your resume). Apply for those type of jobs with a catchy, friendly cover letter that demonstrates that you get your target audience (the reader of the letter) and you can write compelling copy that gets you an invitation to talk to them. If you don't have a strong book, pick up the Copy Workshop Workbook and do the exercises - they're good for building a junior portfolio. Read industry and trade blogs. Make sure you know what the Chicago and AP manuals of style are.

These days, most portfolios I've seen are WordPress or web sites - you can always put a printout of your best work mounted on thin black board or just put into a clear sleeve portfolio case. I have no problem if someone brings in a laptop or tablet and show their work with me digitally.

If I were you, I'd also have a strategy version of your resume. After all, you're a strategist except for that dash of copywriting. Your degree is perfect for the research/insights department, your experience is perfect for the media department, your well-roundedness is great for the account department. Traffic coordinator (if you're good with details and calendars), account coordinator (if you're good with saying no in a nice way), media planning associate (if you're good at math, understand online advertising and can hold your liquor) are the kind of jobs you're looking for in that case. You've got the analytical skills and being a strong writer is critical in the more functional business writing these folks need.

Either way, use Indeed and LinkedIn to look for jobs and tailor your pitch to the job specifically. You may be a generalist, but you're responding to their job and in that moment, it's the only job you'd ever want and you're the perfect person for it.

The best advice I ever got: Network - find anyone you know who knows someone anywhere you want to work. Or send notes on LinkedIn. Then, ask to do informational interviews with people who work in firms that you're interested in. Yes, this is uncomfortable and weird, but awesome, because you get to practice being nervous without having a job on the line and you can ask real people who will some day have real jobs and have real connections these same questions (minus the BSDM). Informational interviews usually get set up "I'm trying to get my foot in the door in the industry. Can I buy you coffee and ask you for some general advice?" is a good starter. I've done them for juniors via Google+ ('cause there's no good coffee around my work.

Important: If you get an informational interview, ask a lot of questions and listen well. Ask about how they got their start, how they got their first job, what mistakes they made trying to get into marketing, how they determined that (their department/title) was the right career direction for them when there are so many avenues to pursue in marketing. Ask them what their day is like, what they spend most of their time doing, what the most fun part of their job is. Keep to the time they give you - don't make them late - and send a thank you, either by mail or email, but I'd recommend mail, especially if you can "brand it" with your personality and contact information, so when they tack it up, or put it on a shelf, or whatever, when they do see a junior position open up, they'll have it handy. Don't hit them up for a job in any way. Treat them as someone who wants to help you in the industry in general. Be really respectful and learn all about them. And they'll try to give you good advice and, if they like you, they'll keep an eye out for jobs for you.
posted by Gucky at 11:48 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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