How to Get a Job in Marketing: Myth vs. Reality

Posted on March 10, 2019 by 5 Comments

How to Get a Job in Marketing: Myth vs. Reality
Blog / Marketing / How to Get a Job in Marketing: Myth vs. Reality

On-trend office spaces with private rest areas and space for your dog to chill while you work. Teams so talented you can’t help but be awed or inspired at least once a day. Flexibility to spend a random Friday at home in your PJs, collaborating online instead of in person. Brands that are changing the landscape of their industry and chatting every single day with customers who love them. No wonder everyone’s wondering how to get a job in marketing.

Marketing jobs are pretty great. They don’t have impossible requirements (sometimes only a Bachelor’s degree is needed), managerial positions earn six figures and the industry is growing at a faster-than-average rate of 10 percent.

All that greatness means stiff competition, though. Don’t let the high churn rate fool you – marketing jobs are in demand, especially management positions. Yet, people are finding their way in. Let’s discover how.

Sales vs. Marketing

Even though we’re discussing how to get a marketing job, there’s going to be a lot about sales. It’s important to understand the distinction between sales and marketing.

Sales and marketing are linked in many ways, but they’re separate jobs – that’s why there are sales departments and marketing departments. Ideally, the departments work together to build a smooth and balanced customer experience.

The marketing team essentially supports the sales team. Marketing is what gathers potential customers; sales is what turns them into actual customers. Marketing includes advertising, PR, social media, etc. Sales include networking and interpersonal connection. There’s overlap, too. For example, both marketing and sales use email marketing, but the messaging is different.

Myth #1: Marketing and sales have nothing to do with one another.

Persuasive communication is a cornerstone of sales. Effective salespeople know how to talk to people to get them to take a specific action. The amount of direct contact is different, but marketing uses similar strategies.

In marketing, you still need people to take a specific action. You still need to figure out what will make them take that action. You’re not not selling. Instead of selling an actual product or service in exchange for money, you’re fulfilling a wish or solving a problem in exchange for an email address. There’s still persuasion; there’s still an exchange. You need to understand what people want and then satisfy those wants in an appealing, must-have way.

Tell me that’s not selling.

Consider this, too: when you go on a job interview for a marketing position, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked a bunch of stuff about your ability to sell; you may only be asked about your ability to sell. Even if the job title has “marketing” in it, it may still be a sales job at its core.

Myth #2: School prepared you for how to get a job in marketing.

Nope. You need sales and communication skills, which most marketing programs don’t cover. On top of that, learning traditional marketing theories is not the same as learning modern marketing techniques. It will build a solid base, but it’s not going to convince an employer that you grasp the latest Facebook ad trends or can build a landing page for a specific audience.

Colleges are churning out marketing degree holders even though brands aren’t hiring entry-level marketers; they’re hiring entry-level salespeople. You’ll be a better marketer for a company if you understand the sales process and revenue flow.

Current marketing students can add sales and communication courses to round out their education. Connect with the sales manager at a company you want to work for and ask what you’ll need to put on your resume to land a job.

Already graduated? Sign up for a continuing ed class or a training course in business writing, human behavior, persuasive speaking – anything that’s going to help you communicate better.

Myth #3: Online networking is more than enough.

Sending a DM on LinkedIn or commenting on a Twitter post isn’t networking. We can spend so much time online that we forget about the value of in-person connection. Your future employer isn’t going to hire “you, the Instagram profile” or “you, the clever email.” They’re hiring you, the person.

Companies are always talking about their upcoming events online. Find out when they’ll be in your area (super easy if you’re going after a local company) and then go there – attend the event, volunteer when they need extra help and talk to people.

It’s very simple: by meeting people involved with the company, you’ll be in a better position to hear about jobs or secure interviews. Also, you may get lucky and find a mentor.

Myth #4: You’ll begin using your creativity right away.

Entry-level jobs are far from glamorous. Sometimes they’re not even exciting. Or likable. You may have a beautiful portfolio with all the campaigns you designed in college, but you’ll be spending the first leg of your career making sales calls and setting up new accounts. You’re not an expert yet, you’re merely an employee. You have to fit the company’s needs if you want to work for them.

Show your willingness to do that by developing the hard and soft skills they require. There are webinars, articles and tutorials online that don’t cost a dime and that will teach you all about marketing, from writing a killer email to automating social media posts. Not sure where to start? Look up job descriptions for different marketing positions at the company, then make a list of all the skills you don’t have yet.

Reach beyond your area of marketing, too. You may not use all the skills you develop, but having an eye for photography or knowing the basics of web design will put the rest of what the marketing department does in context.

Ultimately, you have to prove that you can handle the marketing job you have your eye on. Do the grunt work you’re assigned, stay open to learning and be realistic about the fact that just starting means you know pretty much nothing at all.

Final Thoughts

Marketing is everywhere and companies are hiring for content marketers and social media marketers all the time. This gives the impression that these positions are easy to get, but they often require a lot of experience. Even if you’re lucky enough to land a marketing job right away, go in humble – you don’t know what you don’t know.

Starting in a sales position may be your only option, but it could also be the best option. Salespeople have skills that translate to everything from marketing to handling relationships in your own life. This isn’t the slimy, manipulative car salesman type of selling – this is about understanding people on a deeper level and addressing what will connect with them most.

Going on an interview? Here’s how to be confident in life and business.


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  1. “Everybody lives by selling something.” It’s a quote attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson, who gave us such literary classics as Treasure Island. Stevenson was also the creator of the unforgettable character of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. What he meant by his quote is that we all go through our lives exchanging things of value.

    We’re a buyer when on the other side of the exchange. Getting to the culmination is a journey. The most successful of these exchanges occur when the buyer and the seller both feel they’ve received equal value. The exchange is a process that occurs over time. Most of it on the buyer’s side happens at an unconscious level. If you’re a seller, you need to know the framework of this journey because it must align with your marketing.

    I’m quoting the great author Robert Louis Stevenson because he understood the value of marketing and its role in selling better than most. He was a storyteller. As a marketer, you’ve got to be a storyteller, too.

    At each part of the buyer’s journey, you’ve got to be telling the right part of the story to bring people along as they deepen their relationship with your product or service.

    Everyone does live by selling something. Marketing – stripped away of today’s technology – is nothing more than passionate storytelling. You can learn specific skills to get your message in front of the right people, but there’s no substitution for talent. If you want to get a job in marketing, develop your passion for telling – and selling – stories.

  2. If you want to work in marketing (I did for 25 years) I’d recommend finding out a little more of the nuts and bolts of what marketing actually is. This article reads more like an advertising and promotions job.

    In particular go look up the role of a product manager as that is a much more typical career path for younger marketing staff.

    • Thanks for the tips, Richard!

  3. Best article after reading this i got a clear picture about marketing

    #Cheapest #bulk #sms #service #provider #in #india

  4. Thanks so much I always learn something new from these tutorials

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