As a longtime marketing hiring manager for a Fortune 500 company, there are a few things that I see recent college graduates do over and over again that is absolutely killing their chances of getting their first entry-level marketing job. If you take this advice, not only will you be able to get hired much quicker, but you’ll also be able to negotiate for a higher salary. Alright, so let’s hop in on exactly what you should be doing now so that you can get hired quicker and finally start your marketing career.
Let’s First Discuss Your Main Problems and Then Move Into Your Solutions
Your Lack of Work Experience
I’m sure this is no surprise to you, but, if you don’t have the right work experience you won’t get hired. 90% of hiring managers want real world work experience yet they feel as though only 11% have the requisite work experience after graduation. So, we need to fix this issue first because if this isn’t fixed, nothing else matters. Don’t worry though, by the end of this article, you’ll finally have a solution to this problem that has already helped 3,000 new grads with limited work experience land their first entry level marketing job.
Next thing you’re likely saying to yourself is, “But I can’t get work experience if I can’t get a job yet I can’t get a job because I don’t have enough work experience!” I know that this is ridiculously frustrating and it really creates this absurd circular issue. Once again, I’ll show you how to finally solve this problem.
So What Is the Main Work Experience Hiring Managers Want From Entry-Level Marketing Applicants?
As a hiring manager and then the new employee’s boss, there is nothing hiring managers want more than a person who has already proven they can do the job. Once again, 90% of hiring managers want someone with real world work experience yet hiring managers feel as though only 11% of students graduate with the necessary workforce skills. Work expeirence eliminates a lot of the unknowns for hiring managers in how you’re going to perform and we won’t look dumb in hiring you because we went off of data (your resume). Furthermore, the more you meet the exact requirements, the easier it will be to train you and the sooner I’ll be able to go back to my more regular hours without the added stress of training a new employee.
We receive hundreds of resumes for each open position. This is not uncommon for job postings as LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter have made it easier than ever to apply quickly to a bunch of jobs by adding Easy Apply buttons. Yes, it makes it easy for people to apply, but it adds a ton of resumes that we need to look over. And remember, we already have a job to do so this is all on top of that. So, we unfortunately have to find a way to quickly weed out some of the resumes and I guarantee you, 99.999% of all hiring managers make the first cut just based on experience. We have to trim this list down and this is the easiest way to do it. So, if you don’t have the right work experience, unfortunately nothing else in your application will be looked at so you need to first and foremost fix this section of your resume first.
So, what is the right experience marketing hiring managers are looking for? Here is a list of bullet points that a group of marketing hiring managers created as the top work experience that they’d like an entry-level marketing candidate to have. Most of your competition has work experience in 50-60% of this so you want to strive to get at least that just to compete but get more to really have a good chance of getting hired faster. Also, most candidates have some work experience in at least 2 but most have some work experience in 3 of the 4 main digital marketing areas (Social Media, Email, PPC, and SEO Marketing). The closer you can make your work experience section look like this, the faster you’ll get hired! Copy this list and use it as guidance. Don’t worry, we’ll show you below how you can quickly get all of this experience.
- Created a brand awareness campaign and the company’s content marketing strategy which increased monthly leads by x%
- Created social media content
- Repurposed content to expand the company’s social media and online presence in an efficient way
- Developed a hashtag strategy to improve the reach of our content
- Created social media content that went viral and received x likes and x shares
- Designed and created PPC lead generation campaigns on multiple social media platforms
- Created an optimized landing page to increase conversions for PPC campaigns
- Built targeted audiences for PPC ads to optimize the company’s ROI on their ad spend
- Created optimized copy for landing pages and PPC ads to increase conversion rates
- Designed a lead generation strategy that increased leads by xxx% in my region
- Optimized a current lead generation strategy that increased leads by x% in my region
- Optimized the company’s emails that increased open rates and conversion rates
- Used automation tools to set up an automated outbound lead generation campaign
- Set up and managed a CRM from scratch
- Created and optimized an email workflow with if/then triggers to optimize leads through the marketing funnel.
- Created all the copy for the lead generation messaging
- Utilized social media channels and group pages to find and prospect potential leads
- Provided customer service support to guide our prospects into our marketing funnel
- Increased sales in my region by x%
- Performed competitor analysis, keyword research, and SERP Analysis for inbound marketing blog efforts using Ahrefs
- Created blog article content based on extensive Ahrefs research and optimized it for SEO purposes
- Implemented an effective blog promotion strategy via backlinking, social media, online publishing platforms, working with other publishers, and via content syndication
- Increased website traffic via inbound marketing tactics including blog and infographic creation.
- Established partnerships with industry experts to help further the company’s online presence
But Even if I Can Get This Experience, What About the 2-3 Years of Experience Most Entry Level Jobs Require?
DO NOT LET THIS STOP YOU! When employers put this, they don’t actually require 2-3 years of experience. What they care most about is whether you have the right experience or not. Oftentimes, it takes 2-3 years to gain the experience they are seeking, but that’s only because at many jobs, you more or less do the exact same thing over and over again and therefore it takes time to gain all of this experience. However, we’ll show you a way that you can gain all of the necessary work experience you need much much faster.
What if I Don’t Have a Background in Business or Marketing?
Don’t worry if you don’t have a college degree in business or marketing. What we care about much more is your work experience in the field vs. your degree as us hiring managers know that schools are incredibly outdated when it comes to any digital marketing courses as digital marketing changes so quickly. So, we don’t care what you used in a textbook that was created over a year ago. We prefer real work experience. Like I said, 90% of hiring managers want real world work experience and I’ll talk more about how to get that experience easily down below.
Why You Need to Take Action Now Before It’s Too Late
Alright last thing before I start getting into solutions for you guys. Okay, it’s well established that work experience is the #1 thing you need in order to get hired. Since so many graduates struggle to overcome this work experience barrier, 43% of college graduates end up being underemployed which means they are working at a job that doesn’t require a college degree and on average are earning $10,000 less per year than those who aren’t underemployed. You have to be careful about settling for these types of jobs though rather than doing what it takes to get the work experience you need in order to land a job in the field you want. I say this because 2/3rds of new grads who were underemployed in their first job out of college were still underemployed five years later – Seattle Times. The numbers are even worse for those trying to go into business or marketing at 47%. So, you need to do what you can to make yourself a hireable candidate now by gaining the work experience you need as opposed to start settling as this has much longer term implications than you likely realized. Furthermore, according to the New York Times, college students who graduate into a recession like we have now have settled for lower-paying jobs at less prestigious companies than people who finished college even a year earlier. Economists have found that the impact of graduating during a recession like we have now can linger for as long as 10 or 15 years, leading to higher unemployment rates and lower salaries — a phenomenon known as “scarring.” So once again, the job market is tough right now so you need to be doing everything you can right now to get the work experience you need so that this doesn’t happen to you.
Solutions on How to Get Work Experience So You Get Hired Faster
Now that you have the exact list of work experience that marketing hiring manager’s want from entry level marketing candidates, let’s now discuss some ways that you can get this exact experience quickly so you can get hired faster.
Take Online Courses and Get Marketing Certifications! Wait, no….
You’ve probably noticed that a ton of job boards like LinkedIn started offering free certification courses that you then can put on your resume. You’ve probably noticed all of your friends doing these as well, right? But, is this actually helping you get hired? Although free education is awesome, these might not be serving the purpose that you think they are.
Once again, stop and think. What is the reason you aren’t getting hired? This is what you need to address. Is it that you don’t have enough certification courses under your belt or is it that you don’t have enough work experience? Online courses and certifications programs are not a shortcut or replacement for work experience! I can’t emphasize this enough!
On pretty much every single application I see, especially now during COVID, applicants are listing a long list of all the certifications that they’ve received online. Since every applicant now has these certifications, these aren’t a differentiating factor whatsoever anymore. Yes, they’re great for educational purposes, but these won’t help you start getting interviews as they still aren’t addressing the real issue – can you apply the knowledge in a working setting.
Furthermore, you’ve graduated college. We know you’re smart and we know you already know stuff. These online courses and certifications are just giving you more of what you already have in an employer’s eyes; more knowledge. Our first round of cuts are solely on having the right working experience so unless you fix this area on your resume, you still won’t get by the first round of cuts.
Let me be clear, I think you should take as many of these courses as possible as I think they’re great! But, if the reason you’re taking these courses is to get hired then they won’t serve its purpose because we already know you’re smart and know stuff. These courses don’t give you experience though and this is what we need to see. Just like school, they teach you something and then they test you on it. That’s where the education process ends. This is a problem as I’m sure you can agree. Being able to answer some questions on how to grow your IG account to 1,000 followers in 1 month is very different than actually doing it for a brand, right? Just think about all the ikea furniture you tried to assemble in college. Reading the instructions was never hard. But, when it came time to build the darn thing there always were tons of complications and leftover screws for some reason.
We need to see that you’re able to actually perform the job by applying your knowledge with a company. We don’t care if you can tell us that you watched a video on how to grow a company’s IG account to 1,000 followers in 1 month, us hiring managers want to see that you’ve actually done it and these certifications courses fall way short of that in our eyes.
The Internship Route: The 6 - 12 Month Plan
Depending on how eager you are to start making money, this might not be an option for you. Remember, every day you aren’t working, you’re essentially missing out on $200 as that’s how much you can expect to earn once you’re hired.
These can be great, but usually only for a very select few. They can be hard to get and the process can be just as time consuming as getting a full-time job. As of the writing of this article, they are on average taking new grads at least a month to get and many of them require cover letters and you’ll want to make sure you’re personalizing all of your resumes to have a chance here as these can be quite competitive.
Now, for these to actually help you, simply saying you’ve interned somewhere is not going to help you get a job faster. What matters is the work experience that you’re going to get from them. 99% of the people you’re competing with for jobs have social media experience already and you likely do too. Therefore, this isn’t making you stand out much and getting more of this same experience isn’t going to help you much. You need to expand on the work experience that you already have. Once again, use the bullet point list I provided above as you want to check off as many of those as possible. Entry Level Marketing Hiring Managers want someone with work experience in at least 2 but most prefer experience in 3 of the 4 major marketing areas of Social Media, Email, PPC, and SEO Marketing for entry-level positions. So, try to check off as many of those bullet points as you can otherwise the internship isn’t going to help you much in getting your first full-time job.
Side Note (Don’t fall into this trap): When you get an internship, make sure that expectations are clear about what you will be working on. You usually don’t get to decide what work you’re doing and more often than not, they kick over the meaningless work to the intern and you’re therefore not really getting great experience. An internship is ultimately designed with the company’s needs as the focus and this will determine what kind of work you’re given. So, you’ll get some experience based on what the company needs such as data entry but their goal is not focused on giving you the right experience you need to get hired at your next job. Yes, you’re getting something on your resume which is great, but, for the most part, often times interns aren’t actually learning as much as they should to prepare them for their next job. So, make sure expectations are set at the beginning so you don’t waste your time because everyday you are there, remember, you are leaving $200 on the table as this is how much you could be earning if hired at a full-time job. So, be mindful of that as internships in a way cost you money too.
If Time Is a Factor: Your best bet will definitely be through a family or friend connection as as these will be easier to get and you’ll be more likely to get the work experience you need as opposed to just leftover work as these people likely care about you much more than some random company. However, companies aren’t too focused on internships/apprenticeships right now as companies are just doing their best to stay afloat. So, getting experience this old fashioned way like this is likely a bit harder during these times.
If you don’t have a connection, consider offering your services for free to a small company in your neighborhood and let them know that it appears they need some help in their marketing department and you’d like to do x, y and z for them (these will be the skills you’re missing from your resume).
Start a Side Hustle Through a 3rd Party App (Dog Sitting, Dog Walking, Renting Your Car)
Gain some basic marketing knowledge online and grow a side hustle business in terms of reach/followers online. Specifically do something that focuses on your shortcomings in skills and apply it here. Your goal isn’t to turn this into a big money venture. Your goal is to use these skills and your knowledge in a real world setting so you can put it on your resume. Reading about how to do something and being able to actually do it are 2 completely different things. Doing is much harder than knowing how and this is what us hiring managers value and why we put so much emphasis on work experience.
You could also go on UpWork and post that you’re a Virtual Assistant. If you get hired, do an exceptional job as their VA and while working with the client, dig in a bit deeper to see what they are doing on the marketing front. See if there is any room for improvement and if so, casually let the client know that you have a background in marketing and you thought they could possibly increase their reach, conversions or sales by doing x, y, and z. If possible, show them a little mock up of what you were thinking such as a few images they could use for their social media. Boss’s love when people take the initiative like this. At this point, the client will hopefully already like you if you’ve been doing a good job as the VA and being that you’re the type of person to take the initiative and already provided a plan, they’ll be more inclined to use you in a role outside of just being the VA.
Starting Your Own Very Small Business
This is a much more complicated process but you’ll learn a ton about marketing. However, like I said, this is pretty complicated so I’d recommend sticking with one of the other methods mentioned here. If you do decide to go this route, use platforms such as Shopify, Etsy, and Amazon to help you get something up and running quickly. The method of dropshipping is a creative/cheap way I’ve seen some of my past hires get good experience. Create 2 simple landing pages and figure out how to get people’s eyes on it. This simple task will allow you to get experience in digital marketing, design, optimization, SEO, copywriting, sales, and A/B Testing.
Shortcomings of the Above Work Experience Methods
The main shortcomings about getting the experience on your own is that you don’t have anyone to train you how to do these things which can be quite difficult and you may not learn the right methods or best practices without this guidance. Therefore your pitch on how you can help a company during your interview might be off and therefore hurt your chances of landing the job. Additionally, getting internships and apprenticeships in this job climate also presents some issues. These are ridiculously competitive right now and may be just as hard to get as an actual job. Furthermore, most of them only want you doing their social media channels and if you’re like 99% of entry-level marketing job applicants, you already have some experience with this. You don’t want to go into an internship just getting more of the experience that you already have as this will not help you much in getting a job. You want to gain additional experience in new areas so that you can check off as much of the above bullet point list as possible as the more you’re able to check off, the more hireable you’ll become.
So if your lack of work experience is the reason you’re not getting hired, how can you get all of the work experience in the bullet points listed above immediately?
JobPrepped - Get Hired In As Little As 2 Weeks. 94.3% Of Our Students Get Marketing Interviews or Job Offers Within 3 Weeks
JobPrepped immediately gives you the exact in-demand marketing work experience you need so you get hired faster. Our full-service program was created by Marketing Hiring Managers to quickly turn you into every Marketing Hiring Manager’s dream candidate. We perfect each stage of your job application process and we’re the only program to immediately give you the exact in-demand work experience your resume needs as work experience is the #1 thing hiring managers look at in determining who to hire. You’ll be able to get all of the above bullet point work experience in just the span of a couple of weeks.
Our proven program which has helped 3,000 people works in 4 simple steps:
Step 1: We Immediately Train You In Digital Marketing in an On-Demand Setting
- Social Media, Email, PPC, and SEO Marketing
Step 2: We Give You Immediate Work Experience In The Exact Areas Hiring Managers Want
- Work experience is the #1 thing hiring managers look at in determining who to hire
- You’ll work 1-on-1 (remotely) with a former Fortune 500 top-level marketing exec where you’ll immediately put your training to use and complete Social Media, Email, PPC, and SEO Marketing tasks for JobPrepped as a Digital Marketing Associate. All assignments are 100% optional, there aren’t any deadlines, and this all goes under your work experience section of your resume.
Step 3: We Help Perfect Your Marketing Resume To Ensure You Get Interviews ASAP
We train you on:
- How to properly sell yourself on your resume
- Which work experience to add and which to leave out
- The specific order your work experience needs to be in
- Exactly how your work experience should be phrased and formatted
- And more
Step 4: We Train You On Exactly What To Say To Ace Your Marketing Interviews
- Give you 100+ high-level marketing strategies to pitch during your interview so you feel confident and sound incredibly knowledgeable
- Show you how to properly prepare for a marketing interview by looking at their current marketing plan
- Show you the exact questions they’ll likely ask and how to properly answer them
- And more
- You can finish the entire program and get 20+ bullet points of the most in-demand work experience hiring managers want on your resume in the span of just a couple of weeks or you can space it out over 3 months if you wish.
- We’ll help showcase your work product to our network of marketing hiring managers/recruiters
- We’re the only program that provides work experience as we know it’s the most important thing you need to get hired and we know how hard and long it takes to get the right work experience through internships so we fixed this problem that’s keeping you from getting hired.
We take a maximum of 50 people per month and you can start the program for just $25.
You can take the program for a free test drive here.
The Interview Process
Assuming you’ve taken my above advice and you’re finally getting interviews as you now have the right work experience on your resume, how do you ace your interviews?
1st, What Not To Do!!!
You’re applying for a marketing role. Rule #1 in marketing is don’t try to sell your services/product. Instead, show how your product/service can fix the target customer’s problem.
I’m sure your current pitch as to why you’d be a great addition to the team sounds something like this: “I am a quick learner that has a lot of experience in social media marketing. I am looking for a position that will allow me to prove myself, with opportunity for growth because I know that if given the chance, I will be able to excel in the marketing field and be able to make it into a lifelong career.“
9 out of 10 entry-level marketing applicants sound like this. Did you notice how this pitch was about you rather than how you can help? If you can’t market yourself effectively, why would a marketing hiring manager think you’ll be able to do it for their company/product? You need to instead be talking about the improvement you will bring to the company such as “I will use my experience to automate your lead generation techniques to get more potential customers in our marketing funnel just as I did with xxxxx company.” I hope you understand how that is a much more powerful statement in our ears than what you provided.
Trust me, you’re not alone in making this mistake. If you’re like most entry-level marketing applicants, this is likely just the tip of the iceberg and 1 of many crucial missteps that is keeping you from getting hired (assuming you have the right work experience to get the interview in the first place). Since JobPrepped’s program is focused on getting you hired faster, we’ll make sure we fix these issues (many which you probably don’t realize you’re making) to ensure you give hiring managers exactly what they want.
Show Me Your Key Characteristics in Your Resume and at Your Interview
We all want employees that are creative, that are hustlers, that are resilient, and those that can turn a negative situation into a positive one. These are the people that we want to go to battle with. Don’t be that person that just keeps adding more and more certifications to their resume. EVERYONE you are competing with already has these. Be creative and show that you’re a proactive person by actually getting work experience rather than just watching more and more of these certification videos and hope you slip through the cracks and get hired. By showing that you’re proactive in gaining experience you right off the bat are showing us how much you care about getting hired vs. just sitting back and watching certification courses. It’s this type of action and effort that we absolutely love.
Now, don’t just leave this work experience on your resume, but emphasize how you took action to get it once you get your interviews. State how you didn’t initially have the requisite work experience and rather than just sit back like all of your friends and just take certification course after certification course, you took action and got the best experience you possibly could regardless of how hard COVID made things. You got creative and figured out an alternative way to gain a ton of experience to ensure that you could make yourself a better and more productive person each and every day despite what was going on in the world. If this doesn’t scream winner, I don’t know will. Emphasis this as this is quickly highlighting that you will be a go-getter type of employee rather than one that just sits back and hopes for change to happen.
Finally, Make Sure You Research the Company and Provide a 30, 60, 90
If a hiring manager can tell you didn’t do much research on the company, you will immediately be disqualified for the job. This immediately shows us how important this job is to you. This is afterall our first impression of you. So, show that you care otherwise, why would we think you’d be an employee that cares about their job and works hard?
Finally, you’re going to want to pitch a 30, 60, 90 day plan of what you will do if hired. A lot of new college graduates fail to do this and this really hurts your chances of getting hired. Remember, we want someone that isn’t just going to talk about themselves, but rather, we want someone that has a plan on how they can make an immediate impact on the company they are applying for. I suggest signing up for their email newsletter, follow them on social media, and check out their website. You want to look for areas that you think they can improve on and then pitch that during your interview. Are their email subject lines not enticing enough to open? Could their lead generation tools on their website be further optimized? If you need any help with this, JobPrepped’s program provides over 100 marketing strategies that you can pitch during your interview to make you sound like an absolute rockstar to ensure you get hired faster.
In conclusion, you need to be smart with your job approach especially right now. Simply sitting back and taking certification course after certification course is not going to help you get hired any faster as you’re likely already realizing. You need to address the real issue of why you aren’t getting hired; it’s likely your lack of work experience. So, be proactive, don’t start settling for jobs you don’t really want, and get the work experience you need now via the methods I showed you above. Work experience is by far the #1 thing hiring managers look at in determining who to hire so if you use my advice in this article, you can finally start getting yourself more interviews and get hired faster.
If you can get the appropriate work experience needed for the job, I know as a hiring manager, our lives will get a lot easier hiring you rather than someone we need to do a lot of training with. You making our lives easier is definitely worth shelling over additional company money and we almost always will. So, show hiring managers that you’re a proactive person by getting work experience and once you have it, explain how you’ll make their life easier rather than only talking about what you want to achieve at the job. Focus on these tips and you not only will get your job quicker but you’ll surely be able to get an extra $5-10k more in salary.
Good luck out there!