Marketing has become one of the most in-demand sectors to work in. Why? Because it is impactful, exciting, and innovative! As an agency owner, I’ve interviewed many candidates fresh out of college and also have mentored a few that were pursuing their degrees. I have seen what has worked well and advised students throughout their journey when things have not gone well. In this post, I’ll explain a little about the marketing industry, and some do’s and don’ts while preparing for careers within the field.
Marketing Industry Growth
There are a plethora of marketing positions available and the list keeps on growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing jobs will grow 17 percent faster than the overall average by 2025. There will be a projected 1.3 million marketing positions in the United States by 2025.
Marketing is no longer limited to grassroots tactics (street team marketing, solo direct mail, word of mouth promotions). This is great news for college students looking to get into the industry! Positions that previously didn’t exist such as user experience (UX) strategist, UX / UI (user interface) designer, influencer marketing coordinator, virtual and augmented reality developer or designer, geofencing ad specialist are making the world of marketing much more interesting!
How To Start a Successful Marketing Career
Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door, you can work your way into a position that best suits your interests.
The field of marketing requires quick thinking and innovation at every step, so it’s important to be strategic in your approach when applying. I’ve put together a list of recommendations for getting started based on what I’ve seen throughout my career.
Fundamental steps for pursuing a marketing career after college:
- Continuously Refine Your Skillset
It is critical to developing two types of traits within yourself: hard skills and soft skills.
The hard skills are everything that is needed to perform tasks in the position that you are applying for such as: what marketing facet the job entails (i.e. SEO, social media, content marketing, etc.), understanding the exact job description requirements, familiarizing yourself with timelines and prioritization. If you’re unsure about any of these steps, I highly recommend connecting with people from marketing agencies on LinkedIn, let them know you are a college student looking to get into the industry and request a 15-20 minute meeting to ask questions.
Soft skills include your creativity, imagination, ability to collaborate and communicate with others. These talents make a huge difference when being considered for a position. So make sure this comes across in your writing, your interview, and what you share about yourself.
- Learn About All The Latest Marketing Trends And How They Work
With technology and social media growing at a rapid pace, new trends and marketing methods pop up quickly. Although you don’t have to be an expert in all of them, it is important to be aware of what’s going on. As methods like data science, machine learning, chatbots, and artificial intelligence (AI) emerge, consider how they impact consumer behavior. As a bonus, if these subjects are compelling to you, post your thoughts about them on LinkedIn or write blog posts about them. It would be beneficial to mention them in your cover letters.
- Go Out And Network As Much As You Can
Networking is essential for whatever professional path you choose to pursue. Networking may bring you to possibilities and relationships you might not expect along the way. It is one of the most effective approaches to achieving long-term professional success.
According to LinkedIn global survey results, networking is essential to 80 percent of professionals. Almost 100 percent feel that face-to-face interactions establish stronger long-term connections, and 41 percent wish to network more frequently.
If you are terrified of going out to in-person events and need to work on being comfortable, social networking (specifically LinkedIn) is a good starting point since you can interact with individuals within the industry and ask for advice. You can also start participating in online networking events. Attend meetups and activities that are outside of your skillset as well so you can widen the range of people with your network. Remember that marketing positions exist in every industry, not just marketing agencies. The more you do it, you’ll get better at networking over time and will discover that what you thought was too difficult is actually not that bad. Just be yourself. This all takes practice. You also will build a community of professionals that become colleagues that you connect with from time to time in the process.
- Do Research and Weigh Out Your Options
It’s important to look at all of your options and choose the types of marketing positions that best suit your skill sets and personality. Facilitate in-depth research about what each position requires and what your responsibilities would be. Various positions include market research, data analysis, content, user experience, marketing coordinator, and more, go for whichever seems like something you will enjoy!
I recommend viewing several job posts and creating a spreadsheet for yourself that includes a list of all the skills and experience requirements that have been specified. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, get to know the companies by looking at their website, social media, and videos online. Each marketing firm and business has its own culture. Some are fast-paced, while others are slower; some have large teams, while others have tiny ones. So, choose the best for yourself where you feel comfortable working. When you apply, make sure you mention why you are interested in working with them. During the interview bring up something that you learned about them that you found intriguing. This will help to build rapport with the people interviewing you.
- Build Your Personal Brand
There has never been a better moment to create an online presence and showcase what you’re all about. Create a social media presence that expresses your talents, a blog to share your thoughts, and a portfolio website to showcase your work. Having an online presence shows that you care about your reputation and also is an opportunity for you to display your creativity. In marketing, it’s important to market yourself, so be proud of who you are and your accomplishments! This is one of the best ways to stand out and demonstrate what you’re capable of.
To land a career in marketing, you must do your research, decide on what you want to do, and go for it. If you get stuck along the way, be willing to reach out to others for opportunities, ask for advice and keep ongoing. It is competitive, but there are tons of positions available in the field so be persistent. Best wishes!
The article was originally published on the Rockwell Career Center’s blog, C. T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston