Searching for and finding a job in one of the marketing careers may be done in several different ways depending on the individual job seeker’s qualifications, education, and experience. For those entering the job market straight from high school, the search may be more difficult since many hiring companies prefer college graduates. High school graduates may need to start out in jobs that are more clerical in nature and work up from those positions to higher-level jobs as they gain more experience and perhaps more education, such as a marketing course or several business courses.
Students who are just finishing college should take advantage of all services offered by the college or university placement services. These services often offer assistance with preparing resumes and may also set up interviews on-campus with companies that are recruiting recent graduates. As always, networking through campus organizations or friends or family members who may have contacts and can refer you for employment opportunities may also help. Don’t forget to try searching for jobs on the internet and in newspapers.
Those who are making a career change after working for a period of time may need to adopt several strategies. Networking through your existing business contacts may be helpful; however, this is more difficult to do if you are changing from one field to another. Like recent graduates, you should also look for jobs on the internet and in newspapers. Although it may be difficult, be prepared to start in lower-level or entry-level positions if you are changing fields. Research extensively companies that you would like to work for and try to find a contact person. People have successfully obtained jobs in some cases by taking a resume to the company office and asking to speak to someone in the hiring department or human resources.
In every case, once you have obtained an interview, spend time preparing for it. Research the company and the department for which you will be interviewing so you are prepared to answer questions—and to ask intelligent questions, too.
The type of resume that you need to prepare for marketing careers depends on your level of education and experience. The resume most often seen is a “reverse chronological” resume that starts with your most recent job first, followed by the one before that, and so on. These resumes are most often used by persons seeking a job in the same field or by recent high school and college graduates. High school graduates should include a list of any marketing or research courses.
Remember that the purpose of your resume is to sell yourself to a prospective employer. Think about your resume from the perspective of the company, not simply from your own perspective and from what you want. Don’t start the resume with your objective; this only tells the employer what are looking for, not how you will be able to meet their needs. Start with a two- or three-line summary instead that is tailored to the job that you are seeking. For example, if the company needs a market analyst start the resume with any strengths you have that are related to analytical and communication skills.
Next, list the jobs you have had, including short-term or summer jobs. These show that you have worked to earn your education. Start each line with action verbs to describe the jobs. Don’t simply say what the duties or tasks were. For example, if you were a sales clerk in the summer, say something like this: “Prepared and maintained attractive sales displays to increase sales.”
Following the jobs, describe your educational achievements. List the high school you attended if you have only a high school diploma. If you have a degree, list the colleges or universities you attended, degree(s), date(s) conferred and any honors. If you are a recent college graduate, include your grade point average. If you have completed additional coursework or participated in an internship, cite these on the resume as well.
If you have experience in a marketing field and are seeking work at a different company, then tailor your resume to that specific company. Look at the advertisement and emphasize in your resume what you have accomplished that the company is seeking. Again, use action verbs and describe major accomplishments rather than simply listing the tasks performed. For example, if you made a number of presentations to senior management, discuss this as it may show you have developed selling skills.
If you are changing fields from a different industry to marketing careers it will probably be beneficial to write a “functional resume.” In a functional resume, accomplishments are described by action verbs, but the results are couched in terms that may apply to any industry. For example rather than saying: “Managed a team of nine people who did gas accounting for a natural gas pipeline,” draw out accomplishments related to selling proposals to senior management that helped them to reduce costs or time.
List your major accomplishments; this is not the time to be modest. Next, include a chronological list of the companies you worked for, the titles you held, and the dates of employment. Finally, cite your educational achievements.
Try to keep all resumes to only two pages long if possible. Remember that the person reviewing the resume is likely to skim it and to glance at only the first few paragraphs before deciding to either toss it or look further. Leave “white space” in the resume, this means at least one-inch margins all around. Don’t crowd it and try to cram in too much information, don’t use unusual fonts or colors, or make it difficult to read.
During marketing careers interviews, the hiring managers and/or human resources staff will try to determine if you have the qualities and background that they are seeking for the position that they want to fill. Generally they only take the time to interview people with the basic qualifications that they require in order to fill the marketing position that is open. They will not want to waste time, energy, or other resources interviewing unqualified candidates.
Prepare for the interview by researching the company as much as possible. Review their annual financial statements if they are a public company and search the internet for news stories and articles. Often, financial statements are published on the internet and newspapers may archive articles online, too. Use the information gained from every source you can find to try to understand as much about the company’s business operations as possible. Try to understand what the company’s mission, vision, and values are as well as their performance. What are significant problems that you think the company may need to solve? How could you contribute to finding solutions? Try to understand the company culture to see if it is a good fit for you. Is the company creative and casual, or is it more structured and focused on strict compliance with policies and procedures?
Dress appropriately for the interview in clothing that is not distracting to the interviewer. For men, this usually means shirts, ties, and suits in conservative colors with dress shoes. For women a business dress suit and conservative shoes are appropriate, although some marketing careers may allow more stylish and artistic dressing. However, most often more conservative colors are preferred. For women conservative shoes are those with lower heels, no more than two inches and not stiletto heels.
Arrive at the interview at least 10 minutes early to give yourself time to park and find the office. If possible, drive to the building a day or two before and scope out the parking and location of the offices. This will help you to have less stress on interview day and to be able to interview more confidently.
Surveys indicate that most interviewers make the hiring decision in the first few minutes of the interview. The first impression you give is critical and may “make or break” the interview. Offer a firm handshake during the introduction and make eye contact with the interviewer. Smile, but do not use inappropriate humor or crack jokes. Use clear business English when you are speaking. Be aware of your body language and try to relax. For example, leaning forward in your chair indicates you are interested in the topic and listening well. Leaning back with your arms folded across your chest indicates that you are closed to the topic and may disagree with the interviewer.
Answer the questions concisely without rambling. Try to answer the question from the perspective of the hiring person. If you are not sure what the interviewer is asking, politely ask for clarification rather than answering the question in ways that might imply ignorance.
If the interviewer asks you if you have questions, then ask a selection of questions that show that you have done some research and are interested in the company. Do not ask what the salary is, as the interviewer probably cannot answer this question. This will come later if the company makes you an offer. Generally, the salary is determined by many factors and may be adjusted for them including salary range, education, experience, and number of qualified candidates. It is appropriate to ask the interviewer when the company expects to decide on whom to hire and to indicate that you would like to check back in a week or two to see the status of the job.
When the interview is finished, thank the interviewer(s) for their time and consideration and offer to answer any additional questions that may have arisen. Within a day or two of the time you finish the interview send a thank-you note to each person that you interviewed with. Thank them for their consideration and let them know what you appreciate about their company and the opportunity and that you are interested in the position. If you don’t hear anything in a week or two, contact the human resources staff member by telephone to find out about your status.
For marketing careers, references may or may not be important, depending on the hiring company. References are people who have agreed to speak about your qualifications and abilities if contacted by a company that you are seeking employment with. Some companies will contact each of your references, but they are also aware that candidates will only give positive references and not those who will speak poorly of their performance. For this reason some companies don’t actually contact references at all, even if they ask for them.
High school graduates entering the job market may ask some of their teachers for references if the school allows them to provide references and they believe the teacher will be able to provide a positive one. Also, faculty advisors for school organizations that students may have participated in or led may provide references. Any employers from summer or after school jobs may be willing to provide references as well.
In order to develop a list of references recent college graduates should contact any professors in the marketing field who may have enough experience with your work to give you a favorable reference. This may be easier to obtain from professors for the higher level classes that have fewer students, especially if the professor has required one or more large projects. Master’s degree and doctoral degree graduates will probably have had more contact with professors who will be willing to provide references who will help them find employment.
Other sources of references include any employer for whom you have worked or any managers from nonprofits where you may have provided volunteer services. Even if these references are not in the marketing field, the person giving the reference may be able to describe things like your work habits, attitudes, problem solving, interactions with customers, creativity, and other important qualifications.
In today’s market you should probably expect to undergo some kind of criminal background check as well. A prospective employer will have an agency research your background to see if there are issues that may make them decide not to hire you. If you have some issues like this in your background, you should probably find a way to address it in the interview so the employer doesn’t find out some other way.
Do not use a current or former employer for references if you are not certain about how that employer will respond to questions about your performance. Instead, find other positive references and let the company you are applying to know not to contact your current employer. You may tell the prospective employer that your current employer does not know you are interviewing for other work. Do not include the list of references on your resume; wait for the hiring company to request them. You may instead add a line to your resume that says, “References furnished upon request.”