5 Tips to Help You Get Your Marketing Agency Dream Job
A perspective from Jon Fein, Senior Account Executive
I absolutely love working in an agency environment. It’s collaborative, creative and fun, which is uncommon in the majority of work environments. The work is as varied as the clients and no two days are alike. One has to wear many hats which in turn leads to more opportunity to take individual responsibility and initiative than is often the case in corporate settings. The work is challenging, time pressure is ever present and problem solving is the daily routine. But with all of that, comes great satisfaction as well as personal and professional growth. It’s no wonder that agency positions are highly prized and the competition to land one can be fierce. If you are one of the many with a strong interest in marketing, event planning and related fields, and would like to pursue your career in an agency setting, I’ve provided five tips to help you stand out from the crowd and land that dream job.
Tip #1: Start From the Bottom
Let’s say you’re looking through agency careers pages or job boards and see you’re qualified for a certain position. You look and see there’s a Manager opening that has your name on it. By all means, aim high, don’t hesitate to submit an application. However, if you find yourself not getting call backs and moving along in the interview process, consider targeting a role at a lower level where there is either less competition or you meet more of the job requirements/preferences.
Agencies, similar to other organizations, don’t want to hire Directors and VPs. They want to hire trainees, interns, account executives and promote from within. Aim high, but be honest and realistic with yourself if you don’t see the results you want.
Tip #2: Research the Agency
If you’re applying for a position from outside an agency, do your due diligence. Learn about the company, its clients, its culture and its projects. Find out whatever you can from publicly available information. If you know anyone who works for that agency or did in the recent past, grill them for information. See if you have any experience or new ideas which might help the agency with one of its clients or projects. Don’t be afraid to write to someone in human resources or a hiring manager to express your interest in working for that agency and offering your suggestions about a project in which you’ve heard they’re involved. If you’re already working within an agency and are seeking a promotion, take a similar approach. Find out about some projects the company is conducting outside of your own area and let the right people know you’ve got a strong interest and the ambition required to take on more responsibility.
Tip #3: Wear Many Hats
As I’ve mentioned already, one of the great aspects about working for an agency is it’s not the typical 9-5, sit at your desk all day job. No two days are the same because you will likely be asked to do many different things. Your role will sometimes even evolve based on the needs of your agency, your skill-set and your interests/passions.
You will need to prove to your agency that you can handle this variety. So ask yourself the following questions:
Are you an event planner?
Did you activate a sponsorship?
Have you negotiated a contract?
Do you have experience making/winning new business pitches?
Do you know how to determine ROI? Do you know what ROI is? It’s okay if you don’t, take this as an opportunity to study common business abbreviations. You can find a number of marketing definitions in our sponsorship consulting, creative & content, and event marketing glossaries.
Do you have managerial experience?
Don’t fret if you don’t have all these skills. You don’t need to be a perfect candidate to get the job. However, if you want to become more well-rounded in your career and more appealing to an agency, start to gain this experience.
In addition to becoming more well-rounded with your skill-set, I would also recommend expanding your industry knowledge. In many ways agencies are an extension of their clients. It’s imperative that they understand the industries of their clients as much as possible so they can maintain a healthy symbiotic relationship. Ask yourself, do you really know how consumer goods are sold? Do you understand all the steps it takes to go from brewing beer to getting it on the shelves? Can you maintain a conversation about cars? Maybe, maybe not, but I would recommend having at least a basic understanding of the industries your dream agency’s clients are apart of.
Tip #4: Be a Proven Volunteer
Volunteer for the task that no one else will. I would recommend this advice to everyone, but especially entry level employees. If the needs arise within your company, volunteer to help setup an event, volunteer to travel over a holiday or whatever task comes up that other employees may not be interested in doing. You need to prove to your agency that you’re someone who can grind, who isn’t afraid of a little grunt work, and who is always thinking about making the lives of your co-workers easier. It’s not enough to just tell an agency during an interview that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job. You need to have a proven record you can reference.
Tip #5: Network
I try to limit myself to one cliché per post, so here it goes; “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” Connect with people on LinkedIn, ask for business cards and develop/nurture your business relationships as you make them. There will come a time when you need a friend or associate’s help to get your foot in the door. Do you want to be a sheet in a stack of resumes or the one on top of the pile? Does that count as a second cliché? Cut me some slack! The best way to get your resume read is to be a referral, so scour your network for connections to your favourite agencies.
Bonus Tip: Perfect Your Resume
Imagine you are an HR employee and you’re screening resumes for an opening within your agency. You have to sift through a few hundred resumes. Think to yourself, what is going to stand out to you and what mistakes if any will you be willing to forgive? The process can get tiring very quickly, so make sure you are standing out for the right reasons. Here are some do’s and don’ts for perfecting your resume:
Absolutely no typos
I would recommend one page
If you must, use a second page, but by no means should you exceed that
If you’re looking for your first or second job out of college, you don’t need two pages
Use quantifiable information to highlight your experience
Choose a format that is easily readable
The most recent and relevant information should be at the top of the page