The beginning of the year is the time where headcounts are approved, people are getting promoted, changing roles, and switching jobs. And for people with a positive track record, and what I’d consider the “sweet spot” of experience, 5-7 years, 7-10, or 10-15 years, opportunities are plentiful in Silicon Valley. Every day for the past few weeks I’ve had between 1-6 voicemails and emails from recruiters trying to convince me that their opportunity is the right move, (and I’m not unique in this experience). I think most Marketers that have worked at more than one company understand the process for finding, and evaluating a new role, so I won’t cover that subject today. Instead, I’m going to write three blog posts, this post will cover landing your first marketing job, the second post will cover prepping for an interview, and the third post will be for employers about employment branding.
To people in my circle I tend to fit into the role of an unofficial career coach. In college I studied how political legislation around work impacted women and families. I’ve also worked at two companies in the employment space, CareerBuilder and Elance. And it’s a personal hobby of mine helping people find jobs.
Last week I spent an hour tweaking the resume of a recent college grad looking to land their first marketing job. As I was talking to this person and offering advice, I realized there are a lot of things that seem like common sense now, that I’ve just acquired through years of working. So below, I’d like to offer tips for recent college grads looking to get into marketing (or really any business career for that matter).
Ten tips for college grads looking to land a job:
- Realize that people will judge you based on your email address. Harsh, but true. So, create a gmail account with your first and last name, or if you’re tech savvy a custom email with your own domain name. Leave the cutesy flygirl91 for your friends, and leave numbers out of your email address. If you have a common name, add a middle initial or middle name to secure a great email address.
- Turn on a professional mindset. With every step of the job search, think to yourself, would the person in the job I’m looking for, do this, say this, or wear this. A few years ago I called a candidate for a phone screen and listened to Justin Bieber hold music, waiting for them to answer the phone. My initial thoughts were A. I didn’t know you could setup hold music on a cell phone, and B. I bet they don’t realize most hiring managers are going to be turned off by this.
- Know that employers will look at your social profiles. I’d suggest you ensure your Facebook privacy settings limit your profile to your connections. Also, ensure your profile and cover photos do not contain alcohol, beer pong, bikinis, tube tops, or any other “college zone” type of photos. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy your everyday activities, you just don’t want that to be the first impression an employer has of you. You don’t need a boring mall headshot in a suit either. It’s fine to show personality (hiking, vacation photo, etc.) just make sure you’re clothed. The good thing is, once you secure an interview, you as the candidate can do the same type of social sleuthing. It’s a two-way street. In college one of the job offers I had, involved working for a company that opened up a brand new office, and had tremendous upside. On paper it was a great opportunity to join a company in hyper-growth mode. However, after looking at the hiring managers Facebook profile, I was disgusted, and declined the offer.
- Own your search engine results page. Do a Google search for yourself, and ensure you have a few results. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will rank for your name. You could also benefit by creating pages on sites such as About.me, Meetup, Quora, Medium, etc.
- Start early on LinkedIn. Join LinkedIn as soon as you start thinking about careers and add as many people as you know, to jumpstart your LinkedIn network. If you have family friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, or professors on LinkedIn, then add them. Build out your profile. Create a headline that illustrates what you’re looking for, i.e. Recent Grad Looking For Marketing Coordinator Role. Showcase any writing or marketing work you’ve done in your portfolio. List your GPA if it’s 3.0 or higher, and list any academic honors you may have received.
- Post your resume online. Cover your bases, post your resume on Indeed, CareerBuilder, and Monster. It’s free, there is no reason not to. This is how I’ve landed three jobs.
- Take advantage of your college career resources. Visit your career center, set a time with a career counselor and have them review your resume. Go to college career fairs. Even if your University only has an engineering career fair, still go. Many companies that participate in engineering career fairs are also hiring for roles outside of engineering, so it’s worthwhile to attend. You’ll get practice talking to recruiters, learn about new companies, and may even land an interview. If you talk to any recruiters that are hiring for marketing positions, collect their business card, and send a follow-up email recapping your conversation, and expressing your interest in the role. This extra step will set you apart from other candidates.
- Proactively apply for jobs. Apply for jobs even if you are not a 100% perfect fit. The types of job titles you can look for are marketing coordinator, marketing specialist, and marketing intern types of positions. Look for jobs on your college job portal, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Craigslist. Also, if there is any companies or services you love, check out their job boards. Most businesses love to hire passionate users. When you apply to jobs be sure to include a personalized message in the Cover Letter section of the application highlighting your skills, qualifications, and interest in the role.
- Track everything. Keep a Google spreadsheet or excel file with all the companies you’ve applied to, the job title, job posting URL, and date. When I’ve been searching for a job, I’ve found that having a record of my efforts gives me a sense of accomplishment, and feeling that I’ve done everything in my power to find a job. Also, when you’re applying to dozens of companies every week, you want to ensure you don’t duplicate efforts and apply to the same job twice.
- Lastly, don’t assume people know what you’re looking for. This is my top advice, and applies not just to a job search, but to life. Often times people assume others know what they want. People are not mind readers and usually don’t know what you want. Be upfront with what you’re looking for, be proactive with your efforts, and you’ll be much more likely to get your desired outcome, and make progress towards your goals. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking to get into marketing. Express your desire to write, to create, to market products, use social media, etc. Tweet interesting articles you read, comment in LinkedIn discussion groups, talk to people you know in the working force, and ask if they have any suggestions. Most people will be willing to help, but they first need to know what you’re looking for.
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