With the industry currently valued at $475 billion worldwide, it’s a great time to consider a new career in marketing.
Marketing allows you to combine your creative flair with an analytical, data-driven approach. It’s not just about making sales, either. In marketing, you’ll develop and apply your understanding of human nature to make a material difference to how people live their lives.
Even better: the growth of digital marketing means that new opportunities are always emerging in the field. With the right set of skills, you could soon find yourself at the cutting edge of the industry!
So how do you get started? That’s where we come in. In this guide we will cover:
People sometimes joke about the interns running brand accounts on Twitter. In reality, no company would entrust their social media to someone who didn’t know what they were doing! Digital marketing is increasingly vital for businesses worldwide, and it’s one of the fastest-growing sectors within the marketing industry.
If you’re handy with data, you could become a digital marketing analyst, using impression numbers, conversion rates and more to prove the value of a marketing campaign.
If you’re more creative, you could branch out into digital content marketing. You could find yourself writing search engine optimized blog posts or designing eye-catching graphics to help a brand stand out from the crowd online. And if social media is second nature to you, digital marketing offers a wealth of roles allowing you to put that expertise to good use. So how can you get involved? Let’s break it down.
It’s very possible to get a job in marketing without a college degree – more on that story later. That doesn’t mean you should write off further study as a way to build your digital marketing skillset.
If college doesn’t appeal, or if the financial constraints make college-level study a challenge for you, consider a certification instead! Many websites offer certifications at a variety of price points, with a wide range of schedules to suit any needs.
Weigh your options and choose a course that will fit your budget for both time and money. Remember, this is an investment in your future career!
If you’re hoping to work as a content marketer in particular, you’ll need to be able to show employers that you can back up your resume with proof that you have the right skills. Most employers will ask for portfolios of work, whether it’s content writing or graphic design, to show that you’ll be a good fit for the job. Some will even ask for ‘live’ work – links to your published work online, credited to you.
If you’re new to the industry, this can be a hurdle. Fortunately, there are more opportunities to get your work out there than you might expect!
If you’re a graphic designer, take some time to build a body of work that really shows off your skills – some logos, some website banners, some social media ads. You can feature all your work on your own website, or on a free portfolio site built to host samples of your work.
For writers, starting a blog can be a great way to show employers what you can do! There are plenty of platforms out there, so take your pick and start writing – and make sure to share it around on social media, for maximum reach.
This is another great reason to consider starting a blog or a personal website: it will give you first-hand insight into what it takes to build and maintain a digital marketing presence.
It’s one thing to know the theory of SEO or PPC (that’s ‘search engine optimization’ and ‘pay per click’, and you’ll want to look them up!), but applying that theory can be a very different beast. Starting your own website, and taking the necessary steps to increase its traffic, can be a great way to build your confidence as a digital marketer.
It’s also a brilliant way to show a potential employer what you can do. Having a website with demonstrably high traffic will show any employer that you know the ins and outs of how digital marketing works in practice.
It can be demoralizing to search through entry-level jobs, especially when you’ve held higher positions in other industries before.
However, if you’re struggling to find work in digital marketing, consider setting your sights a little lower. Look for more junior roles, and you’ll find that they’re more willing to take chances on applicants with less prior experience in marketing – digital or otherwise.
If digital marketing is new to you, you may have to be ready to compromise at first. But remember – once you’re in, the only way is up!
Roles in marketing can be competitive. With little to no experience, finding your way into the industry can feel intimidating.
There are ways around any gaps on your resume, and we’re here to talk you through them. Keep reading, and don’t close that job description just yet!
We’ve already talked about certifications, but it bears repeating! If you don’t have any experience as a marketer, you need to take every opportunity to show that you have the chops to do well in the industry. That means committing time (and potentially money) to learning how it all works in practice.
Don’t stop at formal training, either. Email marketing companies and CRM software developers will sometimes share recorded training videos or webinars publicly. Find what you can, and pay attention – it could make a difference if you land an interview!
It’s worth looking into softer skills, too. Know how to produce some basic graphic design work, or how the best blog posts are drafted and formatted. You never know when it will come in useful.
If you have previous experience in another industry, don’t write it off! Think about how you can apply it to a career in marketing.
For example, if you’ve worked in sales, then you know how to persuade customers to buy what your company is selling. That’s relevant to marketers, too – you’ll need to be able to sell clients, and potentially team members, on your ideas.
Almost any job will have taught you something that you can apply in marketing. Even if it’s just an appreciation for the importance of deadlines, it still counts!
Networking isn’t all handshakes on the golf course. All it means is making contacts in the industry of your choice – and you can do that simply by being part of the conversation, whether in person or online.
Find a local Facebook event for marketers, if you’re keen to meet people face to face. Otherwise, try looking for forums, subreddits, Twitter conversations, or Slack communities online.
Once you’re there, don’t start handing out your resume to everyone in sight. Keep your ear to the ground for any entry-level positions that might be worth your time, but the point of networking is to learn the industry from the inside out. Chat, listen, engage, and have fun!
If you’re hoping to score a job in marketing right after college, it’s likely that you don’t have much work experience to back you up. That’s all right! Here’s how you can give yourself an edge, no matter how close you are to graduation day.
Does your school have a careers service? Does it work with any firms to set up internships for new graduates? If so, get in touch right away and see what they can do for you!
Colleges also like to host job fairs for students in their final year of study. This gives recruiters from top firms the chance to meet the new generation of talent in person. It’s also an incredible opportunity for students about to graduate – I personally landed a paid internship with a London PR firm right after graduation thanks to a job fair.
If you still have access to these resources, the time to use them is right now. Check them out, and see what they can offer your career!
If you don’t belong to a club or society at your school, find one that suits you – then volunteer to produce their marketing materials. If your school is hosting a guest speaker to talk about the industry, go to the talk and don’t hesitate to ask questions at the end. If you can find a way to pick up a little work experience, take it and make it work.
Most hiring managers won’t care about the fine details of your grades. A huge part of the value of a college education lies in what you do alongside your studies, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of life outside the classroom.
Being able to balance your studies and your career preparations is a useful skill in its own right, so don’t hesitate to learn everything you can from the overall experience of college.
Your time in college is limited, and competition for jobs after graduation is intense. You need to think about how to get ahead of your peers before you hit the job market – and a big part of that is how you use your time.
If you’re facing a long vacation stuck at your parents’ place, why not look for some freelance marketing or copywriting work? It will keep you busy and give you something to add to your resume, and as a bonus, it will show your parents that you’re taking your future seriously.
It’s important to strike the right balance between work, rest and play in college. If you play your cards right, you could end up with a real advantage when you start looking for full-time work.
Don’t let your understanding of marketing begin and end with Mad Men! We’ve debunked some common myths about the marketing world, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you.
It might seem pedantic, but it’s actually a crucial distinction!
Advertising is just one aspect of marketing strategy. It involves creating and placing ads to spread the word about a product or service, and it can entail elements of copywriting and graphic design in particular.
Marketing, on the other hand, is the whole strategy. It begins when a product is first designed and manufactured, and it forms a critical part of pricing the product and deciding where to sell it. It shapes the whole life of a product or service, including the audience it will eventually find.
Advertising can be a great line of work, but this guide isn’t going to stop there. We’re here to talk about the industry as a whole – not just the parts that make it to your local billboards or your TV screen.
It’s true that digital marketing is booming right now. Many companies will spend millions of dollars on establishing their digital presence, enlisting the help of teams of professionals with a deep understanding of what makes the internet tick.
But while digital marketing is looking future-proof, it’s far from the only aspect of marketing. You almost certainly still get flyers in the mail, for example, or see billboards when you drive to the store. And if you pay attention to the Superbowl, you’ll know that the TV ad spots surrounding the broadcast of the game are some of the most coveted in the world.
Traditional marketing is popular with businesses because it’s so well-researched. It’s been around for a while, and the techniques are refined and well-understood. Digital marketing is newer, and can be intimidating for companies accustomed to the traditional marketing landscape.
Demand for traditional marketing isn’t likely to go away any time soon. If you’re interested in broadcast or print media, you might just find your dream job in the field!
Viral marketing campaigns – at least when they work as intended – are designed to grab attention, so it’s no surprise that they come to mind when you think about digital marketing. But digital marketing isn’t all social media. In fact, it isn’t even mostly social media.
If anything, it’s mostly search engines, which use complex algorithms to order their results. If a site isn’t optimized for search engines, it will suffer a huge disadvantage in the digital marketplace. Customers simply won’t be able to find the services on offer, and so they’ll go with competitors’ services instead.
Digital marketing also encompasses web design, email marketing, digital advertising campaigns, and affiliate marketing. Social media is an important element, but don’t despair if it’s not your thing! There’s definitely still room in digital marketing for your unique skills and expertise.
So you think marketing sounds right for you. Next step: figuring out where in the industry you fit.
Marketing is a wide-ranging field, and we can’t cover all of it in this guide. Still, we’ve picked out a selection of roles to give you a taste of the kind of work that’s out there. Read on – you might discover your dream job!
Average salary: $74,000
Are you a business-savvy manager looking for a more creative role? You might just be a brand manager in the making.
A brand manager’s role is to make sure that the products and services in their remit resonate with customers – both current and potential. Overseeing a team of junior marketers, you’d find yourself monitoring marketing trends relevant to the brands under your purview. You’d then develop marketing strategies to help your brands outshine the competition.
Most brand management roles require some prior experience in management, if not in marketing itself. You’d need familiarity with customer relationship management (CRM) software, as well as an understanding of how to manage people effectively.
If you don’t have experience, you might start as an assistant brand manager or a marketing analyst, with a view to progressing later on. On the other hand, if you’re successful in the field, you could find yourself advancing to the role of marketing director, and taking responsibility for marketing operations across an entire organization.
Average salary: $55,000
If you’re a writer, a graphic designer, or even an amateur videographer, there’s room for you in the marketing industry. Content marketing attracts and engages an audience by creating, publishing and sharing relevant content. That can be anything from articles to videos to podcasts – content is a broad church!
As a content creator, you could raise brand awareness through your creative work, no matter what you create. You could spend time doing what you love, all while establishing your brand’s expertise in its field.
If you’re more critically-minded than creative, you could work as a content editor instead. Not only do editors ensure that their team’s content is free of errors – they help to build and implement editorial guidelines with a view to keeping content on brand. You could also consider a more analytics-based role, using data to inform the direction of a content marketing strategy.
With time and hard work, you could advance to become a content marketing manager or even a director of content marketing. You’d take on management responsibilities for a team of editorial and creative staff, and you’d have the opportunity to shape marketing strategies for businesses of all kinds.
Average salary: $68,000
When it comes to public relations, the clue is in the name. These roles are all about managing a business’s relationship with the public. With the right confidence, attention to detail and aptitude for writing, you could forge a great career in PR and communications.
In an account-focused role, you would specialize in business-to-business and business-to-client campaigns. You’d design promotional strategies to put the spotlight on your client and their work. You could progress from an entry-level assistant account executive role to the very top of the ladder as an accounts director, supervising executives across multiple accounts.
Alternatively, as a communications specialist, you could find yourself writing press releases, liaising with journalists, and arranging events to draw the right kind of attention to your client. Over time, you could advance to be Director of Communications, taking managerial responsibility for any and all liaison with the press within your company.
As you can see, marketing is a great career path for creatives and analysts alike. Don’t be put off by the competition – it only means that the work is rewarding.
Before you start sending out applications, check out some of our resume advice to help you stand out. We know what hiring managers are looking for, so don’t wait; give yourself a head start today!
Content Writer + Resume Expert
Waverly is a freelance writer, former HR officer and current international traveller. They believe in doing your research, showing up prepared, and bringing your passions with you to work. They've helped countless job seekers create better resumes and cover letters to improve and grow their careers.
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