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Advice for finding that first marketing job

April 6th, 2011 · 26 Comments · Agency life, Employees, Life

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How to find that first job

It’s spring time, which means the robins, tree buds and soon to be college graduates are all popping up everywhere.

I remember how tough it was to find that first job.  Everyone wanted you to have experience but no one wanted to give you that first job…so you’d get some experience!

I am often asked by college students how they can compete in a sea of “I did an internship, I got good grades, my parents are pressuring me to find a job” applicants out there.

So…for all you soon to be and recent grads — here’s my counsel (from the MMG website).

If I were you and I wanted to snare a job at MMG, here are some of the things I would and wouldn’t do. (and naturally, this applies for any job, just substitute the company specifics.  And, I’d replicate this for the 3-5 places you really, really want to work.)

I would:

  • Read the MMG website carefully, to get a sense of culture and tone.  Be sure this sounds like a good fit for you.  I know you need a job — but your first job is so important.  You’ll meet your first mentor there.  Or not.
  • Sign up to receive MMG’s weekly e-newsletter, the Marketing Minute.
  • Stay smart — keep reading advertising, marketing and social media blogs, magazines etc.  You’re going to do this for your entire life — so you’d better get in the habit now.
  • Follow MMG on their Facebook page and Twitter.
  • Read Drew’s blog and if I really want to stand out from the pack, I would subscribe (via e-mail or RSS reader) and within a week, make an insightful, articulate comment on a post.
  • Ask my friends, contacts etc. if anyone knows anyone at MMG who could make an introduction.
  • Be very mindful that my cover letter/resume are the biggest demonstration of whether or not I get marketing.  I would ask myself…if I were a product and MMG was the target audience…how would I sell me?  How would I make myself different from all the other applicants?
  • Download and read “Giving College Grads a Fighting Chance.”
  • If I have a blog, I’d link to Drew’s because I know he’ll check to see who I am.
  • Know that they’re going to check my Twitter, MySpace, Facebook etc. pages.  So if they need cleaning up, I’d clean them up.
  • If I had no relevant job experience, I would look at the job experience I did have and figure out what elements of marketing were present there.
  • Join the local social media club, ad club, marketing club.  Whichever is more relevant to what you love to do and your market.  But start getting connected, if you haven’t already.
  • If I didn’t get the job or they didn’t have any openings at the moment, but still think this is the place for me…I would stay engaged.  I would keep reading/commenting on the blog.  I’d drop them a note every month or so.  I would become someone they notice/know.

I would not:

  • Send a cover letter or resume that even slightly reads like everyone else’s.
  • Rely on any cover letter/resume book. I would throw those away and refer back to my marketing text books.
  • Under any circumstances tout my ability to work with people (or that I like them) as a strength or skill.
  • Send anything that a pair (or two) of fresh eyes didn’t proof.  A typo will get me tossed right into the “no way” pile.
  • Hit send or lick the envelope until I checked and double checked the spelling of the agency, the agency owner’s name and anything else (like their clients) that I might reference.  (see bullet point above)
  • Try to BS my way in.  Because I should expect that MMG will smell that a mile away and ask about it until I admit that I sent the same “I believe your agency is perfect for me” cover letter to 12 agencies.
  • Humiliate myself. I would double check that I put the right cover letter/resume in the right envelope.  (I’d hate to be the one who makes that mistake, but it has happened.)
  • If I really wanted to work there, I wouldn’t give up.  I wouldn’t be a stalker, but I would keep at it.  I would look for ways to help them, even before I got a job there.  Because I would believe that I am going to work there eventually and begin behaving like I already do.

You don’t have to do any of this.  It’s your job hunt, after all.

But remember, at MMG (and most smart businesses) we hire as much for “culture fit” as we do for competency.  We can teach you marketing.  But we can’t teach you to be a team player.  Or curious.  Or passionate about our work & our clients.   We’re not going to force you to be someone who believes in giving  back to the community.

So along with your work and academic achievements, show us that stuff.  And show us that you get why that matters.   Then, we have something to talk about.

Your job is pretty straight-forward.  If you’re smart and creative enough to sell us you, we know you can help our clients.

Good luck!

 

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26 Comments so far ↓

  • Margaux G

    Thank you for posting this. As a soon-to-be graduate, I have to say that continually following up, often with little or no response, is the most challenging part of the job search! I like the idea of behaving like you already work there and finding ways to be helpful before you’re even hired. Your blog is great, and I really appreciate the advice.

    • Drew McLellan

      Margaux,

      Yup, it’s annoying when people ignore you. Sadly — that’s our job. To get people’s attention enough that they cannot ignore us. Or…if they keep ignoring us, they’re not the right target audience for us.

      So what you’re going through right now is a sample of the work you’ll be doing the rest of your life! If you behave differently, you will get noticed. Don’t do it like everyone else. Unless you just want to be part of the crowd.

      Drew

  • Jann Freed

    Great advice. I am having all of my students read it. As always, thanks for passing on helpful tips that add value.

  • Richard Sellers

    Of course, they can gain knowledge from actual marketing executives, including yourself, at blog.mengonline.com.

    Another member of our Marketing Executives Networking Group compiled a wonderful ebook aimed at benefiting and encouraging college students and recent grads in their job search: “Finding Your Professional Path, And Realizing It”.

    Here’s the link: http://www.uafter4.com

    This E-Book is FREE. Pass it on, share it, help those who need it.

    Richard

  • Jordan Bahnsen

    I wish this was something I knew when I was fresh out of college, looking for a job. Great advice that anyone can apply to their next job search.

  • Adrian @ Search Engine Easy

    Your advice on standout cover letters is very good Drew – you should think of it as your first ever advert and write it accordingly

  • Frank Bowes

    An excellent post, Drew. I’ve been mentoring a young man recently and we have been discussing much of what you have covered here. What people tend to forget, or not even realise, is that when applying for a job you are selling yourself to a specific market, so why would you send them a generic or completely irrelevent resume?
    Frank Bowes recently posted..Skills needed for customer service jobsMy Profile

    • Drew McLellan

      Frank,

      The “do it like we’ve done it since 1984″ advice these kids get is criminal. No wonder they struggle to get noticed. Glad you’re out there telling them the truth!

      Drew

  • reuben

    Hi mate.

    These guy are called the Young Creative Council. They help ad students try and get into the world of advertising. I would have a look what they do:

    http://www.youngcreativecouncil.com

    They also always have job opportunities/ courses and live briefs on their Facebook page

  • Jenna

    Drew,

    As a soon-to-be college grad (with a history degree no less), I’m hoping to get a foot into the marketing industry with only retail sales experience. This has helped me begin my research to learn more about marketing, as well as what NOT to do when applying for jobs. Thanks again, it’s greatly appreciated!

    Jenna

  • Andrew Phillips

    Drew,

    This is immensely helpful, especially for someone in my situation. I’m coming into the game a bit late, having started a family before finishing school and being forced to complete the majority online. I’ve found that online schooling tends to be frowned upon quite a bit.

    Any extra advice for all of the “unorthodox” grads like myself out there to demonstrate our skills and capabilities?

    • Mo Martin

      Andrew,

      As an “unorthodox” student myself, I completely understand that it is sometimes difficult to make the same connections as the average grad. After graduating, I put myself out there as a consultant in a field that I had special experience in, and used that to leverage into my current position. Now, I use that special experience every day, and find that I always have a different viewpoint from the average grad. Remember, “Unorthodox” means contrary to tradition, and that is an important element in a marketing career.

  • Hannah Hamilton

    Hi Drew!
    Like your post here. These are helpful tips to follow when applying for a job since we know for a fact that the competition nowadays is more like a survival. You just don’t give your resume and smile rather you have to be at your best to stand out among the others. Great, I’ll be sharing this to everyone.

  • Serap

    Hi Drew;

    Firstly I really like your blog which has very useful info.

    I have a MSc in International Business Management in where my studies predominantly focussed on PR and Marketing. However after my graduation, I could not get a job in Marketing and PR area. I had to work therefore I worked in different areas like customer service. I wonder if I still have a chance to get a job in Marketing and PR area. You mentioned that Network is important. If I don`t have the job how I can get access to the Network.

    I hope to hear from you. Thank you

  • Alex

    good luck on all your job hunts :D

  • CatherinaLucy

    Very true. Everyone wanted you to have experience but no one wanted to give you that first job…so you’d get some experience.

  • Liam Brennan

    Thanks for this write up.

    I have always wanted to pursue a career in marketing. At 25 I get the feeling that I may be “too old” to start a university degree (I live in Australia, college does not apply). The more I read and talk to people, the more it is motivating me.

    Thankyou!

  • Steve

    A refreshing article and one which emphasises some key points. There are still an awful lot of ‘oldschool’ conventions which people bow down to when looking for a job which have no place in the modern world.

    One particularly salient point to consider when applying for a marketing job is that if the company is going to interview you or consider you for a role where you are responsible for representing them or their brands – therefore it is important to make sure you are ‘on brand’ in everything you say or do.

    If that is too hard for you to contemplate, or if it really seems like you are having to ‘fake it’, then you maybe need to consider whether or not that company is really for you.

  • Drew McLellan

    Appreciate the plug — thank you!

    Drew

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