How to get into Marketing

Our latest guest blog post is by Arek Estall who is the Online Marketing Executive at Wolfestone Translation Ltd. Arek shares his top tips for a career in marketing…

Working in marketing is one of the most rewarding and varied challenges in the workplace.  My day to day work varies from creative writing, speaking with editors at magazines, organising TV and radio appearances, building communities on social media and data analysis, to learning about new technologies and online marketing techniques.

You’d be hard pushed to find a more exciting area to specialise.  And that’s probably why it’s so hard to get into.

I remember the difficulties I had well.  I thought that as a recent graduate from a top University, I would be presented with a range of employment options.  I found that in this tough economic climate, while a degree is useful, it’s not enough on its own.

I spent months applying for marketing jobs, receiving rejection letter after rejection letter.  By the time the Christmas decorations were up I realised I needed a change of strategy.

To save you the time I wasted, these are my five dont’s: from someone who made all the mistakes.

  1.  Don’t be proud

Don’t be afraid to take any work to boost your CV, however irrelevant you think it may be.

I’d argue most roles are relevant to marketing.  Should you take a job in a food outlet?  Marketing is all about understanding and satisfying your customers, so if you’re in a customer facing or customer service role, you’re already doing it.  Also, employers like the fact that you are hardworking, no matter what jobs you have done. So make sure you include them in your CV.

A final upshot is that the company you take a job at might just have a marketing department you could move into.

  1.  Don’t waste your free time

“But it’s my free time!” I hear you cry!

If you really want to move up in your career in marketing, the bare minimum is rarely enough.  Your free time is your opportunity for networking, reading up on new trends and testing out the things you learn.  Start a blog, set up an online shop or start doing consultative work for people you know.

Marketing is all about unique selling points, so show you understand this by building your own unique selling points.

  1.  Don’t be afraid of more education

On the topic of unique selling points, professional courses are a great way of differentiating yourself from the competition.  The CIM, CIPR and CAM all offer courses that are relevant to marketing, which might also help you decide which area of marketing you want to specialise in.

  1.  Don’t be afraid to specialise

Do I really need to specialise?

I think you do.  A broad understanding of marketing is important which is why I am an advocate of the CIM courses.  However, most marketing jobs nowadays have a leaning towards a certain skill.  Are you more of a writer, seller, online expert or analyst?  Research the type of job roles out there and study the job specs.  Then learn about the area that interests you.

  1.  Don’t be afraid to gain unpaid Work Experience

My final suggestion is that experience trumps education every time.  A degree will qualify you to apply for a job, and not much more.

A good example of the benefit of work experience is my former colleague Nik Andreev (link:  http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/nikola-andreev/36/4aa/710).  He joined our marketing department for three months, as part of our internship program.  When he started, he told me his friends laughed at him for giving up his time.

During his three months with us, he got involved in training on our CRM systems, article writing, research and managing marketing projects.  As his internship came to a close, he secured a full time position as Advertising Manager for MyMediaGuru (http://mymediaguru.co.uk/), a fast growing and dynamic company helping companies grow their social media presence.

Meanwhile his friends continued to receive rejection letters.  Which begs the question…

Who’s laughing now?

There are plenty of opportunities out there – whether they are internships or more formal initiatives such as GO Wales Paid 10 week Work Placements and the Graduate Academy and the Leonardo Da Vinci Exchange Program. 

If you have the drive, ambition and right attitude there is every reason you can be successful in marketing.

If there’s anything I haven’t covered that might interest you, let me know below by commenting and I’ll be sure to answer any questions.