Culture | Hiring

How to Get a Job in Marketing (Hint: It Involves Really Trying) [+Video]

Natalie Davis

VP of Talent, Co-Creator of IMPACT's Core Values, Vision, and Culture Code

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How to Get a Job in Marketing (Hint: It Involves Really Trying) [+Video] Blog Feature

Published on December 22nd, 2017

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Whether you’re just starting out, changing companies, or making a career shift, getting a job in marketing can be pretty tough.

I remember this very clearly from when I was first trying to get a job in the industry.

After graduating college with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Marketing and Advertising, I was pumped to join the marketing world.

I pictured myself create dazzling nationwide marketing campaigns, collaborating with the best people in the industry, making a good salary, and working at an agency with an award-winning culture.

I sent out a ton of applications and waited for the calls to flood in.

Then I waited some more. And a little more….

What the heck? Was the person who reviews applications on vacation?

One day, I finally got an email back to set up an interview for a marketing position I applied to. Score! Time for a huge life change!

Turns out the “Marketing Position” was going to business parking lots and seeing if anyone had a cracked windshield, then trying to track down the person to sell them a new one.

That’s not exactly what I had in mind...

Why couldn’t I find a real marketing job? And if I did, why weren’t they all calling me for an interview?

After a few failed attempts at marketing greatness, I took a step back and realized my approach was all wrong. Aside from sending out a resume and cover letter, I wasn’t doing anything to make myself stand out to the people in the marketing world.

Years later, as I review the applicants at IMPACT, I realize there are some very specific things people can do that certainly help their chances of getting into a marketing company’s hiring process.

Below we’ll dive into these steps, but if you prefer some of this content in video form, we focused on this topic on one of our Behind The Screens episodes:



1. Meet People

I can’t stress how important it is to constantly grow the network of people you know in the industry and even outside of it.

The more people you know, the higher the chances that someone can open the door for you at a company - or even make an introduction at a company you have your eye on. You never know when a connection will come into play down the line.

Ways to Meet People

If you’re struggling to grow your network, here are a few ways to start:

  • Go to Networking Events: Event websites such as Meetup, Eventbrite make it easy to find networking and industry events near you. I subscribe to both of their email lists for the types of events I’m into. Even Facebook events can prove useful. Speaking of Facebook...
  • Join Facebook Groups: Do the companies or industries you’re interested in have a Facebook community? At IMPACT, we created our own network for dedicated marketers with IMPACT Elite. Find the ones that are of interest to you, or - create your own community.
  • Join Linkedin Groups: LinkedIn is full of all types of groups - and you can find groups for the areas of marketing that you’re interested in as well as the groups that your favorite companies create.
  • Attend Conferences: Not only are conferences educational, but they also offer excellent networking opportunities. Our team always has a presence at the INBOUND Conference, as well as other ones more specific to their roles, and we get our entire team together for our company’s IMPACT Live conference each year.  

The ways to meet people are endless. If you need some tips on how to build relationships in these situations, check out these steps to building rapport with anyone.

2. Always Be Learning

Marketing is constantly changing. If you take a break on learning, you’ll quickly fall behind.

Marketing companies and departments are looking for people who crave new ideas and are knowledgeable about the newest methods out there.

Methods of Learning

  • Talk with Experts: After building your connections (mentioned above), chat with those experts about your top marketing questions. They can offer advice, tell you about what they’re doing, and point you towards other resources or contacts.
  • Listen to Podcasts: Podcasts are great options to listen to on your commute, while working out, etc. Here are 15 marketing podcasts we recommend.
  • Subscribe to Blogs: No matter what area of marketing you want to focus on, there’s a blog for you. Find companies that produce content that speaks to your interests. In the inbound marketing arena, these are 25 inbound marketing blogs we like to read.

Before applying to a company - make sure to subscribe to their blog so you can see the type of content they produce or reference specific things during the hiring process.

3. Build Your Personal Brand

“The mutual relationship between career success and personal branding is a truly unique dynamic that, when understood, has the potential to launch a person to new heights.” - FastCompany

An individual’s personal brand is out there, whether they know it or not. It’s your social presence, the content you’ve published. It’s everything you’ve ever put online that can be traced back to you (remember that MySpace page you never deleted?), and when you’re trying to get a job, it can affect your chances of getting hired.

How to Build your Personal Brand

  • Leverage Your Social Presence: Contrary to how most people talk about it in regards to getting a job, social doesn’t have to be negative. It’s an opportunity to showcase your hobbies, your social initiatives, and your passion for marketing through photos, videos, groups, etc.
  • Do Some Cleanup: A lot of hiring sites (including the one we use) automatically pull in any social accounts or websites connected to your email, and provide a link to your profile on that site. Make sure they’re work-friendly and represent what you’d want an employer to see. Luckily, there are sites that will help you see where you have an online presence so you know where you show up.  You can try sites such as BrandYourself and TruthFinder to see where you show up online and clean up your image if needed.
  • Build Your LinkedIn Presence in Particular: Figured I’d pull LinkedIn out separately since it’s so important in the professional world, let alone the marketing world. Here are a few quick tips to make your profile look more polished:
    • Use a professional looking photo or headshot. If you aren’t sure if it’s professional, it probably isn’t.
    • Find and connect with the people you know to increase your connections.This will show you’re out there meeting people and networking.
    • Customize your LinkedIn URL to look professional and knowledgeable about the platform.
    • Follow companies that are related to your marketing interests.
    • Ask for recommendations from past co-workers and managers.
  • Create Content: Whether it’s in the form of blog posts, tweets, videos, or another format you like - create content around the marketing areas you’re passionate about. This demonstrates your knowledge about the industry, and shows your love of learning and educating. Where can you showcase all of this content you ask?
  • Build a Website: A website is a great place to showcase your content and your personality. Even if you don’t know anything about building a website, you can use some simple templates to get you started. Wordpress has user-friendly templates, but there are a lot of other free options out there.

4. Look for Culture Fit

Companies with great cultures will do everything they can to qualify you for culture fit, and you should do the same.

Joining a company whose culture isn’t aligned with who you are is like wearing the wrong shoe size. You might be able to make it work, but it’s never going to feel right -- and you’re bound to stumble. Eventually, you or the company will want to make a change.

Here are a few suggestions for researching a company’s culture:

  • Check out their mission, vision, and values
  • Read through their culture code (This is IMPACT’s.)
  • Look at their social media and get a feel for their environment and personality
  • Connect with someone (or more than one person) who works there and ask them about the culture and their experience
  • Check out review sites such as Glassdoor, or Comparably to read feedback from past and current employees

Do all of those things align with the person you are?  If so - it sounds like you found a culture fit!

5. Be Proactive

Marketing companies get a lot of job applications each day. Simply submitting one doesn’t always cut it when you’re trying to stand out.

Engage with a Company

One way to get noticed is to engage with the company outside of the hiring process.

Follow them on social media and get involved in their posts and discussions.

Subscribe to their blog and provide your feedback or ask questions. Doing this will show a genuine interest in the company and what they do, and you’ll become a person they start to remember if you’re contributing to their conversations.

(At IMPACT, we have a few of our own “celebrities” in our IMPACT Elite Facebook group.)

In addition, check to see if the companies you’re interested in host any events or conferences. Not only is this a great way to make an introduction to people at the company, but you’ll also have the opportunity to make more industry connections to keep growing your personal network.

Know the People Reading Your Application

Take some time to research the person or people who will be reviewing your information, and customize your application to them. Not just by addressing them by name, but also mentioning things you picked up from their profiles.

For instance, when our now Video & Emerging Technology Manager, Kyle Bento first applied, he sent highly-customized follow-up emails to me. One of the many things he did was that he noticed I’m a big foodie, and even suggested a show I should watch (Chef’s Table), and some great dishes to try at local restaurants (Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese from Knuckleheads). He also referenced one of our CEO’s presentations he had done at a conference a few years back and asked some great follow-up questions.

While this won’t get you the job (you still have to make it through the hiring process), it certainly got him noticed and showed he did his homework. Now, he’s been at IMPACT for a few years, and also asks that we call him “The Maker of Video.” It’s still catching on...

Get Creative

If you’re applying to a marketing agency, odds are you’re pretty creative (and they are too).

Take some time to think about different ways to stand out at the companies you’re most interested in. Some extra effort definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.

What Other Tips Do You Have?

I’d love to hear some feedback and some additional tips you’ve used to get hired at a marketing agency, or great things you’ve seen applicants do. Please comment below!

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