Thanks to how versatile and universally in-demand marketing is, recent graduates with a degree rarely have trouble finding their first job. But some people find the traditional approach to job search (get an internship, then an entry-level position) boring and unappealing. If you’re one of them, you can try to get your first marketing job less conventionally. Here’s how.
#1 Approach A Small Business And Offer Your Help For Free
Unless you want to go the traditional route, you need to get the first project somehow to have something to show your potential employer. Sadly, most businesses aren’t interested in hiring someone fresh out of college to develop an entire marketing campaign for them. And can you blame them?
But small business owners with minuscule to non-existent marketing budgets can’t afford to be picky. They might be willing to let you work on their marketing if you’re okay with doing it for free (or, possibly, in exchange for their products or services). That’s your chance to complete your first-ever project independently and start your portfolio.
Sure, the idea of working for free doesn’t exactly excite most beginners. But think of it as an investment. After all, before you hire professional resume writers and, hopefully, land your dream job, you need something to put on your resume. Likewise, designing a marketing campaign for a small business you know and like is the gateway to your future career. In addition, with a little hard work and dedication, it is entirely possible to break through this barrier and acquire real, applicable skills you can list on your resume. Starting your first project independently is one of the best ways to demonstrate your knowledge and dedication to potential employers; plus, at the completion of such a task, you will have an item you can proudly put in your portfolio. While it may be tempting in some cases to try and “fake” credentials like a fake Associate’s degree by claiming knowledge you don’t possess online, having tangible experience demonstrating your skills will always place you far ahead of those who are just bluffing
#2 Contact A Social Media Influencer You Follow
This one is for job seekers mainly interested in social media marketing. As well as one of its most successful niches, influencer marketing, SMM is still big. Businesses pour millions of dollars into it because it works. So it might be the perfect career route if you’re interested in social media and follow quite a few influencers.
To have a project to show off to your future employer, you’ll need to find an influencer willing to give you a chance. Unfortunately, Kim Kardashian or Lele Pons aren’t the best choices, no matter how appealing the idea of working with them is. Chances are, they won’t even notice your DM in the daily messages they get.
Instead, choose an up-and-coming influencer (with up to 100,000 followers) you’ve been following for a while. Contact them and offer them creative ideas on what else they could do to increase their engagement and gain new followers. Then, if they respond well to your initiative, ask if they’d be open to giving you a chance to become their SSM consultant on a more permanent basis. You’d be surprised how often this method works.
#3 Become A Content Creator
Another shortcut to a successful SMM career is becoming a content creator yourself. First, choose the type of content to create based on what marketing fields you’re most interested in. Here are a few ideas to consider, but the list is in no way complete:
- SMM. If SMM is the marketing career you want, you can begin by creating a social media platform as your first-ever SMM project. Don’t use your social media accounts for this. Create a separate page instead. It can be anything, even an informational account about gardening, as long as it performs well.
- Content writing. Content writing is also a marketing career. So if you’re good with words and would be interested in moving your career in this direction, consider starting a blog. Once again, don’t make it personal. Your future employers will be more impressed with a successful platform with a clear topic and target audience. But make sure you’re writing about something you know well and enjoy; otherwise, your blog is near-guaranteed to fail.
- Graphic design. While graphic design isn’t exactly marketing, it’s a big part of it. So if you’re more interested in the visual side of advertising, SMM, and websites, consider creating a platform to showcase your graphic design skills. Because of its visual focus, Instagram is the obvious choice for this.
#4 Befriend Someone With An Established Career In Marketing
Befriending someone to find your first job isn’t cheating (as long as you have the necessary knowledge and skills to work in marketing). However, it’s a bit questionable from an ethical perspective, so make sure you aren’t using the person. Be upfront about your interest in their career and desire to learn from them from the get-go.
A friend with an established career in marketing is useful not only because they can recommend you to their boss or other employers looking for an entry-level marketing professional. They can also tell you about their experience finding their first job and let you shadow them as a learning opportunity. And marketing isn’t exactly a rare career field, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding a successful marketer to befriend.
#5 Join A Startup (Or Gather A Bunch Of Friends And Start Your Own)
Finally, unlike the rest of the options on this list, this one’s fully ridiculous (and risky), especially if you decide to go for the latter. Joining a startup if you have no financial ties is fine. Like most small business owners, its founders probably don’t have much money to spare and will happily hire an experienced marketer to cut their expenses.
But starting a startup with your friends and putting all your time, effort, and money into it just to have a chance to grow as a marketer is as bold of a move as it gets. Moreover, the independence and opportunities such an approach gives are thrilling. Keep in mind, though, the success rate of startups is abysmal. So maybe you’re better off with a more convenient way to get your first marketing job.
Marketing is such a diverse industry that there’s no shortage of opportunities for finding your first job, even if you have only a degree with no experience. Some of the least traditional (yet nonetheless effective) ones are offering free marketing services to a small business or influencer, becoming a content creator, finding a successful marketer friend, and joining a startup to do marketing work for it.