Graduate weapons for attacking the job hunt: marketing
As my first month at Inspiring Interns draws to a close, I am becoming increasingly familiar with the desirable characteristics that we look for in super-duper graduates. Characteristics that create sparklingly successful candidates. Of course, it goes without saying that we’re looking for the cream of the crop, the crème de la crème of graduates to match with our magnificent graduate internships and job opportunities. But what exactly makes someone the cream of the crop? Now that I’ve got a good idea myself, I’m going to put together a weekly series for you readers, industry by industry, that will help you understand what makes someone a good candidate and provide you with the weapons you need to stand-out from the crowd. This week I take on marketing…
Inevitably, the first thing we look for in any application is your degree. It’s a common misconception among many graduates that, in order to start out in one industry, you must have a corresponding degree. Wrong. It is not the degree you possess but the skills you’ve gained from your degree that are the foundations of success. So what sort of people do companies look for when hiring marketing candidates? Strategic thinkers, problem solvers, idea generators, people with the ability to identify the bigger picture, creative minds, people-focused personalities. And none of these traits are exclusive to graduates with a degree in marketing. Many of our top candidates have degrees in completely different subject areas; it’s their ability to apply their knowledge and expertise to the marketing industry (and convey this on their application) that leads to their success.
Once we have checked out your degree, we’ll have a look for relevant skills. So when you are applying for a marketing internship, assess the experience you’ve gained so far and how it can be used to demonstrate marketer qualities. Did you develop strong organisation skills in your extra-curricular activities? Did your volunteer work stimulate a love for communicating with people? Did your involvement with university societies provide you with events and promotional experience? Remember that these are the qualities that will resonate with employers. Make these the focus. Give them pride of place on your CV over your part-time waitressing job from four years ago: they are the transferable skills that will sell you.
Targeting your application
The next step is to take these key strengths and desires and match them with a role that suits you. This is where your understanding of the industry and its opportunities come in. Be aware of what’s out there. Explore your options in the field, whether it’s working agency or client side. Access the pros and cons of each, to identify the direction that best suits you. Then look at job roles, make sure you have an understanding of the different profiles. Do your organisational skills and confidence fit an account management role, will your love for writing and interest in social media suit a digital marketing position, or does your ability to see and rationalise the bigger picture lend you to a career in strategy and planning?
Why are you different?
Proudly stating on your CV that you are punctual, hard-working and a team-player is all well and good but does that make you any better than your competition? We take it as given that our candidates will possess these qualities. You need to be the candidate that ticks all the basic boxes AND brings that little extra special something to the table. In marketing terms think of it as a competitive edge, your unique selling point. Communicate those desirable characteristics, whether you’re a digital guru, customer driven, brand champion, relationship focused, strategic thinker, or a visionary mind. Keeping up to date with trade press such as Marketing Weekly will also demonstrate your interest in the industry, adding another string to your bow. Help us to understand why you are different from the rest.
Let’s get digital
There’s no escaping it: this is the age of digital and it couldn’t be more relevant to the marketing industry. Having a digital awareness is fundamental for budding marketers. And the good news is developing digital skills is quick, easy, can be done from your own home, and is free. Got an interest in anything? Write about it. Start your own blog and set free all those wonderful thoughts and ideas you have selfishly stored in your head. You’d be surprised how satisfying it can be. Plus it gives employers a great opportunity to see your writing style. Get active on Twitter, and use other social media platforms to promote what you’re doing. If there’s a visual element to your words, link them to Pinterest or Instagram. Use your undoubtedly extensive knowledge of Facebook and set up a page for your blog or website. Interlinking your platforms demonstrates your awareness of best practice in social media but also exhibits confidence through self-promotion. Illustrate this activity on your CV, put a link to your blog and/or your website, give employers your Twitter handle and draw attention to your achievements in these areas. Make note of how you’ve grown your followers from zero to army-sized in a matter of months; be as achievement orientated as possible. Stats and numbers stand-out on a CV, so use them!
Also, don’t down play your IT capabilities, whether its basic photo editing or Excel experience. These are all foundations which employers can build on. But do not stop there. Arm yourself with as many skills as possible; the free time you have whilst internship hunting is the perfect opportunity to do so. Free courses on the web are an underrated source. Check out what Google has to offer to develop your analytics and PPC skills; use Codecademy to develop basic coding; experiment with Microsoft Office; try photo and video editing if you can get your hands on some relevant software.
Show a willingness to get stuck in. Marketing has the ability to reach so many areas of a business; you need to be able to demonstrate that you are the best candidate to handle this so exude flexibility, openness and an eagerness for the role!
Winning characteristics: Whether you’re interests lie in the strategic planning side of marketing, account handling or creative; one thing you can guarantee you’ll need is the ability to communicate. Networking is key part of the marketing industry. Strong communication skills will be an invaluable weapon to you when partaking a career in such a field where your work and social life often overlap, be it virtually at events or online through social media platforms.