Our Advice to College Students Looking to Break into the Marketing Industry
It’s always exciting to see promising new talent enter the marketing field. Belo + Company recently had the pleasure of hosting a group of design students from Texas A&M Corpus Christi. These students toured the office and heard about the ins and outs of account management, project management and client feedback from company leaders. They also got a closer look at the Belo Content Studio, as our Sr. Art Director, Caitlin Ewing, described her career arc and provided an overview of her daily tasks.
We wish these students all the best as they continue in their careers. It can be difficult to find your footing in the marketing industry after graduation. Formal education is essential and valuable, but it doesn’t always prepare you for the realities of life in the marketing field.
With the next generation of marketers in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top skills and traits that you should work on developing if you’re looking for a marketing job (especially one at a marketing agency).
These subjective personal attributes are not unique to the marketing industry, but they are essential. Not sure where you stand on some of these? Ask a trusted colleague or mentor for an honest assessment.
Communication: By far, the most important thing marketing agencies look for when hiring is the ability to effectively communicate, both verbally and in writing. Communication is a two-way street — not only do you need to be able to get a message across, but you also need to actively listen to the needs of your clients or co-workers and then respond thoughtfully.
Adaptability: No two days are alike in the marketing industry, so it’s important to be flexible, level-headed and open to taking on new tasks. Get used to working outside your comfort zone. Go somewhere you’ve never been before, disrupt your routine and make a habit of trying things that scare you.
Collaboration: Marketing is all about collaboration, whether it’s within your own team, with other teams or even with other agencies. All marketing tactics have to work together to create a successful marketing campaign, which means that teamwork and the ability to collaborate with others is key.
Curiosity: In the ever-changing world of marketing, curiosity will help you stay ahead of the curve. Always be looking for the next trend or solution that will benefit your customers. Ask “what if?”, don’t get pigeonholed and break the rules every now and then.
Organization: You will almost always be juggling multiple projects and clients. Organization and project management — the ability to keep track of different deadlines, subtasks and contacts — is critical if you are going to keep all the balls in the air. If you don’t already have a personal system for tracking your time and tasks, develop one and make it part of your routine.
These are concrete knowledge sets that are specific to the marketing industry. You can’t fake these, but it is usually simpler to learn a hard skill than to develop a character trait. With tutorials and courses, anyone can get a basic understanding of:
Digital marketing tactics: You don’t have to be an expert in all of them, but you should have a basic grasp of tactics like search marketing, SEO, content marketing, social media marketing and paid social. You should also have deep knowledge in your specialty field and be able to speak to how these tactics work together and influence each other.
Digital marketing tools: Yes, there are a lot of tools out there, and not every agency uses the same ones. However, certain tools — like Google Analytics, Facebook Ads Manager and HubSpot — are digital marketing campaign staples, and you should be comfortable using them. It’s wise to also familiarize yourself with tools that are quickly growing in popularity. Already knowing an agency’s preferred tools will make you a more attractive candidate with an easier learning curve.
Data analysis: Marketers need to be able to analyze data and pull insights from it. Anyone can plug numbers into a spreadsheet; a good marketer can make sense of a set of data and apply their findings to real-world decision-making. If a Data Analysis class isn’t already part of your degree plan, consider adding one as an elective.
Real-world experience: In this highly competitive job market, having an internship on your resume is almost a necessity. Internships provide valuable hands-on experience, and there are many great internship opportunities available to college students (includingsome at B+C). If you want to set yourself apart even more, complete several internships and switch up the specialty. This not only shows that you’re well rounded and competent in different aspects of marketing, but also that you’re more sure of the area you’ve chosen.
A few last tips to land your new job:
Polish up your resume. Invest plenty of time and energy making sure your resume is not just grammatically correct and tailored specifically to the job you are applying for, but also visually appealing. Forget the Word doc — choose one of the many easy resume-building tools, like Resume Builder, Novoresume, Canva or Venngage.
Update your LinkedIn profile. Hiring managers usually use resumes as a primary source of information about a candidate, but often refer to LinkedIn for more. Your LinkedIn profile should be up to date, with accomplishments clearly listed, a distinctive headline and a hi-res professional headshot.
Do your research. Always read up on the company you’re interviewing with ahead of time. Find out as much as you can about key personnel, services offered and corporate culture, as well as work that the company is known for. Dress appropriately for the interview and be ready to speak to what you know about the company’s values and work.
Say thank you. It only takes a minute, but it makes a big impression. Send an email, pick up the phone or maybe even mail a physical note — just be sure to thank your interviewers for the opportunity and for their time and consideration. You’ll set yourself apart from other candidates and open the door for an ongoing conversation.
There’s a lot you can do today to increase your chances of getting your dream marketing job down the road. Keep the traits you want to develop at the front of your mind, and you can begin to consciously shape your behavior. Develop the habits. Hone the skills. When the time comes to begin your career in earnest, you’ll be ready. Don’t forget to give us a call.
Scott Brown is Sr. Director of Agency Services at Belo + Company. Scott leads our content team in the development of thoughtful and engaging content used across the B+C suite of offerings from organic social media to web to SEO and beyond. Scott has spent 20+ years in the agency world working in both traditional and digital with brands such as ExxonMobil, Taco Bell, Bank of America, Stanley Steemer and Terminix. Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children and used his advertising degree from The University of Texas as a starting point to his career in marketing.