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13 tips to land your first job in Marketing, Digital or Creative

At this time of year recruiters and HR professionals get inundated with resumes from eager, young university students inquiring about internship opportunities and entry-level positions. You need to stand out; you need to somehow make your way into the industry, but how? I’d like to share some expert tips for Marketing, Digital or Creative job hunters (or current students) who are beginning to think about their future. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and the tips included on the list are not rocket science, but hopefully they offer a little insight to help you begin the job search.

So, here’s what I think you should/could do:

1. Get some internship experience under your belt. How often have you noticed that experience is required? But you have none, so how do you get that experience? Internship is the answer. Get valuable experience during your studies by offering your services part time, or during the holidays; and be willing to take an internship after graduation. It could lead to a full-time position.

2. Volunteer with Not-for-Profits. By volunteering your time with a non-profit organisation you will get hands-on experience that you can list on your resume. And while many non-profits may only offer unpaid internships, the experience you gain will pay dividends in your career; and best of all, it’s for a good cause.

3. Network. As the old adage goes, “It’s about who you know”. Increase your personal brand and you’ll expand your chances of meeting the right people, people who might be able to help you land your first job. I’d also suggest joining local industry associations and your university alumni and/or alumni associations. Meet people and put your personal brand out there. For example in Australia, some local industry associations might be: PRIA, Australian Marketing Institute, AGDA and AIMIA.

4. Embrace Social Media. Today’s Gen Y’ers are almost expected to already have a strong grasp of social media and other new technologies. Your knowledge of tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and online communities will help demonstrate your worth to your prospective employer. Also, use the power of social networking sites to search for jobs, ask for advice and source other opportunities. You never know when or where a job opportunity might present itself.

5. Do Your Homework. Know which agencies or companies offer graduate programs and which recruitment agencies specialise in your area of expertise (Firebrand specialises in Marketing, Creative and Digital). Pay close attention to the work environments (agency, corporate, government, non-profit, etc.) so you know at the basic level which you prefer. When you do find a role that interests you, make sure your skills and interests match the job requirements before you apply. Understand the company’s products, services and breadth of work if you are granted an interview. Integrate this knowledge into your cover letter and interview whenever possible.

6. Write, Write and Write Some More. Most employers in Marketing Communications, PR, and Advertising rely on solid writing skills. Find every opportunity to add writing samples to your portfolio. Join the student newspaper; review a gig or show for free. Create a newsletter for a student organisation or even write something for a local magazine. You may not be published, but it’s all great practise. If you’re in advertising, work on adding more work to your creative folio.

7. Proof Your Material. Make sure that your resume, cover letter and supporting material are error free. If you aren’t the best proofer in the world, have someone review your material who is.

8. Ask for help/ advice. If you’re honest and upfront with companies and recruiters, most of the time they are willing to answer your questions and give you some advice. Ask for an informal coffee with HR at the company you love, introduce yourself by saying you want to learn more about the organisation, and how you could apply in future. Take the pressure off by showing interest without pressuring HR to “interview” you. The company might not be hiring now, but could be a month from now. If you’ve made a good impression, they’re likely to remember you for the job. Or, they can refer you to others who might have a position that is a good fit for you.

9. Customise Your Resume. Present your experience in a way that is tailored to each job opportunity. Demonstrate to prospective employers how you would be an asset to their company. Make your first paragraph specific to the client/agency and job at hand.

10. Show Your Passion. If you are given an interview – make yourself stand out from the crowd by demonstrating the passion and personal dedication you have for the specific type of industry for which you are interested. Also articulate your desire to learn and grow. Sincere interest and passion for your work can help make up for a lack of experience.

11. Ask Questions. You should never be afraid to ask questions while interviewing. It shows you are interested and want to learn as much as possible about the prospective company. Ask questions, even if you think you know the answers.

12. Be Flexible. Your first Marketing, Creative or Digital job may not be your dream job, but look at it as an opportunity to gain valuable, real-world experience.

13. Send “Thank You” Notes. Don’t forget the lost art of writing “thank you” notes. If a prospective employer has taken the time to interview you, take the time to send a “thank you” note or email to express your genuine interest in working for that company.

Yes, finding a job seems like a daunting, scary task; but it’s not impossible. It will require some perseverance and patience. Hopefully, these tips will help with that job search. Are there any other great tips to add to our list?

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