Marketing efforts are pivotal for every single product or service. Quality sells, true, but one has to learn about a quality product first–which is not going to happen without a decent and persistent marketing effort in the early stages of product life-cycle.
Small or big, private or public–all companies need to promote their products. Many of them will run a big marketing department (virtually all huge corporations do it), with many jobs available for grabs. But how can you, without any previous experience in the field, become a part of their marketing department? Let’s try to answer the question on the following lines, outlining some options.
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Option one: Apply for an entry level marketing position
Almost all big companies hire trainees–some prefer to approach fresh graduates, but other companies will hire anyone interested in the job, as long as they can prove their abilities in a difficult interview.
Personal, behavioral, and technical questions, and perhaps a psychometric test–you need to navigate all of that when trying to get an entry level marketing job. We have a separate article that discusses the questions, and you can check it out here: marketing specialist interview).
However, you do not need any previous working experience (in marketing or outside of it), to apply for this position. You may need a bachelor’s degree though…
Option two: Apply in a small marketing/advertising/design agency
Smaller companies are more flexible when hiring new employees. Leaders of design and marketing agencies aren’t interested in your education, whether you worked somewhere before, have a degree, etc. They care only about the following three things:
- Your existing design works (that showcase your talent and dedication to the field)
- Your motivation and attitude to work (that they try to uncover with behavioral interview questions)
- How you’d fit to their team (cultural fit interview questions can help here)
Now, you’re not going to get a job with them unless you have a decent work portfolio. But you can have it without ever working anywhere.
Designs you made in your free time, for example helping a friend, or campaigns you designed just for fun, or perhaps even works of art (logos, billboards, book covers, slogans) you created just for the purpose of adding them to your portfolio–all of them will work for this purpose.
They just have to be unique, and show that you have at least some talent.
Once you have your portfolio ready (and online), you can start approaching the design and advertising agencies, asking about available vacancies.
Always adjust your application
While you should follow some good job application tips anytime trying to secure an interview invitation, you shouldn’t just send the same email to all marketing agencies in the city.
Learn something about the company, check their latest campaigns, try to understand what they do, and what value you could bring to their existing team. Write your email accordingly. Praise them for their good works (particular works you like), for their reputation, website, anything.
Once they feel that you spent some time writing your application, they will almost always reply to you. Oppositely, if they identify your email as a generic one (you likely sent the same message to dozens other companies), they’ll ignore you.
Option three: Freelance and translate it to a job
Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but it has many advantages. As I wrote before, every company needs marketing. Most small companies, however, can afford neither running their own marketing department, nor cooperating with an established media or marketing agency. Both these options exceeds the limitations of their budgets.
Their owners will head to websites like freelancer.com , looking for independent designers and marketers to help them run their campaigns.
These companies won’t stay small forever though. At least the successful (and lucky) ones will grow, start hiring employees, and a day will come when they will look for their first marketing guy.
The first one they will approach with an offer will typically be the person they cooperated with on a freelancing basis, for a longer time. That can be you.
And they won’t care about your resume or previous experience, or whatever–they already know your qualities, they already know your personality.
Surely, transition from freelancing to employment is neither easy nor guaranteed, but it is doable. Maybe you could give it a shot.
Other ideas on how to improve your chances of getting a marketing job with no experience
You can do a few things to improve your chances. First one is being active, and visible online. Join Behance, take part in design competitions, start your own website.
Comment on other design works, join relevant Facebook groups, and showcase your design skills and expertise whenever possible. Not that this activity can land you a job, but it can help a lot when prospective employers do their due diligence–and find out that you do all these things.
Spread the word around
You shouldn’t be ashamed of your aspirations. Personal referrals still account for no. 1 source of new hires in the US, and anywhere else. Use it for your advantage.
Contact your friends who work in big corporations (if you graduated from a college, many of your former schoolmates likely work for one of the big players).
Send them your resume, ask them to talk to the head of marketing department. Maybe they can give you a helping hand and secure an interview invitation–at least.
Try to become a better marketer
Read books, join webinars, complete an online course in marketing or advertising. And create. New things, campaigns, whatever.
You can make interesting connections while trying to become a better marketer, but “being better” will also help you big time once you finally get your chance to interview for your dream job. The best investment you can make is always the one in your skills and knowledge…
Conclusion and next steps
When companies compete for young talent, and struggle to find new employees, it is perfectly possible getting a job in marketing with no experience whatsoever.
If you have a university degree, the easiest road is applying for an entry level marketing position with one of the big corporations. Because they do not require any previous experience.
If you do not have a degree, however, you can try applying directly with small agencies, or start as a freelancer. Do not give up easily, and work on your marketing skills. Sooner or later, you’ll achieve your goal. We wish you good luck!
Continue your preparation with Interview Penguin:
- Get a job with no experience – If you have no previous working experience, you can still land a decent job. You just have to know how to turn your disadvantage (lack of experience) to an advantage in an interview.
- Body language in an interview – Time to say the right things without words.
- Marketing Trainee interview questions – Learn what to expect on a big day.