I absolutely love education, but nothing compares to first hand experience. Career experience surpasses most things when it comes to scoring the jobs you dream of. Marketing is one of those jobs that is exciting, creative, and can be done by a wide variety of people (partly because there are so many types of marketing in the first place). The problem is, a lot of people realize they want to get into marketing after they’ve already started a career in something else. So there they are – a good chunk of work years under their belt, looking for a change, yet they can’t get the time of day from potential employers when they apply to marketing roles. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter whether applicants apply to entry level roles or middle management, they get rejected. They aren’t called in for the entry level gigs because they “are overqualified” and they aren’t considered for roles around their same career level because they don’t have any specific marketing experience. This sucks for applicants and employers. Applicants can’t get into what they’re passionate about and employers miss out on some well experienced and potentially kickass team members.
The good news is there’s something you can do about that lack of experience without giving up your current job. Here are my top six ways to gather marketing experience so you can get into the right jobs at the right time:
1. Start a Blog! – seriously, it sounds cliche and overdone, but this is an excellent way to gain some marketing experience. Choose a subject with enough focus so you can really develop a good brand, post often, and of course, make sure to list this on your resume.
2. Create a Social Campaign – how much do you know about hashtags, social networks, and engagement? Social campaigns (think cool instagram feeds, hashtags – #likeagirl) give you the tools to explore how to grow a campaign and gain some more business oriented social community experience.
3. Volunteer at a Non Profit – if you’re passionate about a certain cause, you’ve got enough to volunteer at a non profit (check out VolunteeerMatch.org). Look for those that need some marketing help, even if it’s the tiniest of things, and do your absolute best at it. You’ll do two things – gain experience and help a cause.
4. Ask Your Friends – do you have friends with their own businesses, blogs, or who are already in marketing? Ask them if you can help out (do anything) or if they know if opportunities where you can gain some marketing experience.
5. Do 20% – does your company offer opportunities to help out other departments? Do they encourage you to get outside of your role to explore more and contribute to products? We call this a “20% project” at my company and they’re fantastic ways to explore other interests. This can be done at any job, just focus on what types of marketing they need and then seek those folks out. This is a good description of what I mean.
6. Market Yourself – this might sound a little counterproductive, but how much do you market yourself? If you’re a woman, probably not enough. Think about how you describe yourself to new people, how you present yourself on social media, and how you want to be perceived. Then work at it, think about making a personal page, network, and be the person you strive to be. Ain’t no marketing experience like one for yourself.
Do any of the six things above and you’ll gain marketing experience. Be consistent, be positive, and try your best to really hone in on what you’re good at and what you can contribute to a company. Make sure to add these marketing experiences to your resume in a clear and easy to find way, and you’re likely get more attention from the employers you want to speak to. Good luck!