It’s not easy for anyone to find their first job in marketing. Whether you’re fresh out of college, you’ve recently decided to make a career change, or you’re simply new to the job market, finding an entry-level position in the marketing field is no simple feat. Like many industries, starting your career in marketing has its own set of unique challenges that, as a current or prospective applicant, you are sure to encounter at some point in your career journey.
For those seeking your very first job in marketing, you may begin to feel like every agency or brand wants someone who already has a few years of experience. Once you do find those entry-level opportunities, however, you’re likely competing against many applicants who have completed internships, achieved good grades, and are as excited about a career in marketing as you are.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there should be a job growth rate of approximately 6% for all advertisers, promoters, and marketing managers by 2029. That means by 2029, there could be as many as 19,000 new jobs in advertising, promoting and marketing management. If you’re hoping to secure one of these positions, be sure to utilize the tips below to navigate the job hunting process, set yourself apart from other applicants, and successfully land your first career in marketing!
This might at first seem a bit contradictory. You might even be asking yourself, “How am I supposed to get marketing experience without a job?” Don’t sweat it—there are plenty of ways to get relevant, useful experience in marketing prior to your first full-time job. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Take an unpaid internship – For many, taking an unpaid internship might be less than ideal. Of course, you want to be paid for the hard work you’re completing day in and out, however, unpaid internships can be a great way to gain experience. Not to mention, if you’re still a college student, you can gain credits for each internship you complete.
- Start freelancing – Have you ever considered becoming your own boss? Freelancing is becoming a more popular source of income for many marketing professionals, and it also will help you gain experience as you start out. Many people are even able to continue their freelance work after they start their full-time marketing job.
- Launch a blog – Looking for a way to tap into your creative writing skills? A blog might be a great place to start. Not only can you hone your writing skills by starting a blog, but it also gives you a place to showcase your work once you begin applying and interviewing for jobs.
- Volunteer – If you know of any local non-profits or charitable organizations, lend your time (while also gaining marketing practice) as a volunteer! This is a great way to become savvy in social media, as many non-profit groups don’t have a dedicated staff member for these types of responsibilities.
Polish Your Online Presence
When you begin applying and interviewing for marketing positions, recruiters and hiring teams will want to take a look at your professional profiles, portfolios, and may even peruse your online presence to take a look at your personal reputation. Why not tackle these ahead of time?
First, amp up your LinkedIn profile! Be sure to layer in as much detail as you can here. This includes job experience (even part-time gigs), education, relevant coursework, projects, presentations—the more the better! In addition, adjust your headline to speak to your search for a marketing position: i.e. “Recent Grad Search for Marketing Coordinator Role” or “Looking for a Career Switch to Marketing.” Don’t forget to also add a professional photo to your profile, as it’s been shown to get a user 14 times more views than other types of profile pictures.
In addition, many applicants also find it helpful to create a personal website, especially if you have creative work like graphic design or campaign creation to showcase. This can also be a helpful platform to house a digital copy of your resume, in addition to a bio or description to introduce yourself to a potential employer! It is super simple to set up a Wix or Weebly website, and you can even make customizations to best reflect your personality or personal brand.
Give Your Skill Set a Boost
Continued education doesn’t end when you finish college! Many hiring teams will hold you in high regard if you go out of your way to learn more about a certain division of marketing or develop critical hard skills that are necessary for a specific role.
One of the most amazing things about the web today is how many resources are right at our fingertips. There are many free or low-cost courses available online that will allow you to further your skill set at your own pace—all you need to do is sign up. A few options include the Google Analytics certification, HubSpot Academy, or LinkedIn Learning, just to name a few!
When taking these courses, you might find it helpful to set a schedule for yourself so that you complete them in a timely manner. In addition, it can become overwhelming to have too many courses on your plate at once, so start with one or two courses and go from there.
Network, Network, Network!
You’ve heard the old adage, “It’s not about what you know; it’s about who you know.” In many cases, the adage is true. If you have family or friends who are in the marketing world or know someone who is, ask for an introduction. You never know who might be able to help you land your dream job!
If you’re not in a position where you already know people in the marketing industry, make new connections. Now that you have your polished LinkedIn profile, use it to your advantage! Reach out to professionals at companies you’re interested in, utilize your college or university’s alumni network, or join a group for young professionals.
Once you make these initial connections, go the extra mile and ask for an informational interview. This can be in-person or virtually over Zoom or the phone. Ask your connection for tips on how they got their first job in marketing, skills you should learn, good companies to work for, or even if they have other colleagues or connections they can refer you to.
Think Beyond Local Agencies
Best College Reviews recently reported that New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, and Chicago are the top cities for a career in marketing. If you don’t live in one of these cities, and you’re in the position to make a move, consider relocating to find better job opportunities. Oftentimes, small towns or rural areas don’t have many open positions for marketing roles, so a larger city may have more to offer.
Before making a big move, potentially one that’s across the country, be sure to thoroughly research both the area and the steps you need to take before booking your plane ticket. This might include the credit score you need to buy a house, the city’s estimated cost of living, or even researching things to do in your free time to ensure they align with your interests or hobbies.
At this point in your journey, you’ve spent months honing your skills and building a portfolio of tangible results for yourself. Now, it’s time to showcase your stuff to employers and land you that job!
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