Tips for Getting an Entry-level Marketing Job

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you might know that I’m not all that impressed with my college education.  One of the reasons is because I don’t think I was properly prepared to find a job in field of study.  I distinctly remember my Advertising professor telling us that Advertising Sales jobs are a great way to get into Account Management at an ad agency. Um, not true.

Throughout my career, I’ve been really lucky in being able to find jobs that I love, but I’ve had to work for it.  Being that I’ve had some good gigs, I often get asked by younger marketers and recent college grads how to break into the industry.  It can be tough at times because marketing is one of those “need experience to get experience” deals, but here’s some advice to those of you trying to “get a foot in the door”.

  1. Write a blog. Things have changed.  Resumes are old school.  Sharing your thoughts, ideas, work and accomplishments online is how it’s done now.  I’m way more impressed with young marketers that proactively share ideas.
  2. Promote your blog to people you want to work for. I love finding marketing blogs written by college students or recent grads.  The content come from a different perspective and is way less boring than the stodgy stuff the old school thinkers come up with.
  3. Be a specialist. It used to be that employers looked for “generalists” – people that could do a little bit of everything.  Now, we’re in an age of specialization, so carve out your own niche and specialize in a particular area.  The narrower the focus, the better because you will eventually be the perfect fit for your perfect job.
  4. Target some influencers and get a meeting with them. Figure out who could help you nail down that job and invite them out to lunch.  It’s a perfect opportunity to informally introduce yourself and make an impression.  Plus, you would be amazed at how much people will do to help someone out once they meet them face-to-face.  Knowing someone over email or phone doesn’t have nearly the same impact.
  5. Find a field/mobile marketing job. There are a lot of agencies that are hiring recent college grads to go out and represent Fortune 500 clients and activate marketing programs.  This is a great way to get some big names on resume (or blog!) and learn about consumer behaviors first hand.
  6. Start your own gig. No better time than the present!  And let’s face it – it’s a lot tougher to start your own gig when you’re pulling down a good salary and/or have kids.
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9 thoughts on “Tips for Getting an Entry-level Marketing Job

  1. Awesome advice, and very encouraging.

    How much importance do you place on degree? I mean, I see that having one is important, but does the particular degree make a big difference? Can an ecology major or a risk management major go into marketing from the ground floor (or the internship “basement” level)?

  2. A degree is somewhat important when all things are equal – but personally, I like the candidates that get out and make things happen – no matter what their background education is.

    One other thing to keep in mind is that a lot of MBA’s who go into marketing after getting a graduate degree studied something totally unrelated to marketing in undergrad.

  3. I just started a blog the other day. I recently graduated from college with a degree in marketing. It’s mainly focused on my job search, but also sharing some ideas on marketing.

    I agree with most of your points, though in my experience there are not a whole lot of agencies looking to hire people straight out of college. If you know of any I’d love to hear about them!

  4. Neil – your advice is right on! First…I agree on the education (might be because we have the same school in common but whatever!) Right now, us X’rs are caught in between the old school traditional marketing, journalism, advertising, PR and the new media, social media, web 2.0. I have an intern that is going out into the “real world” and we just had this conversation today!

  5. I am going to start a blog because of you Neal. And because I am a few months shy from graduating. But the main reason I am going to do it is because I’m scared poop-less that I wont be able to find a job. Any advice on how to make in the healthcare marketing world?

  6. Malaiya – thanks for the comment.

    First off, your worst nightmares rarely ever come true. Keep that in mind. You WILL find a job.

    Second, I think it’s great that you have already defined a niche industry that you want to get into. It’s just like marketing to businesses or consumers – you need to define your target. Now that you have done that, you can start to activate against it. Can you go even further in defining your target? Probably. Nothing is “too niche” in today’s business climate.

    Be specific. Make progress toward your goal everyday.

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