By: Tim Mehta, Public Service Marketing Lead & Marketing Strategist at Designzillas
There’s two types of people that absolutely need to read and bookmark this post.
- You just graduated college. Whether it’s UCF, Full Sail, Valencia or somewhere else around here. You’ve interned at a couple agencies, you’ve attended some networking events, or maybe neither. You feel like you’ve done what you need in order to land a job. But you still don’t have one lined up.
- You graduated college a couple years ago. You’re pretty disappointed (or straight up unhappy) with your career choice. Now you’re trying to transition into the Orlando marketing world. But you don’t know how.
I could easily say “relax, this post has you covered” but I’m not going to lie to you like that.
Orlando is riddled with young professionals hoping to become the next Gary Vaynerchuk or Seth Godin (If you don’t know who either of those people are, you are not on the right track. Google them as soon as you’ve finished reading this sentence).
But just because the volume of competition is high doesn’t mean you should lose hope. Orlando hosts so many different businesses and companies that there is always opportunity.
On Indeed alone there are almost 3,000 jobs that employers are looking to fill as of one-minute ago.
On top of that, Orlando was crowned with the highest rate of net job creation in 2015.
But no, I’m still not going to tell you to “relax, this post has you covered.” What I’m trying to say is to not lose hope so quickly.
Before we dive into these juicy tips (sounds kinda gross), let’s take a guess of some of the thoughts that you’ve been having as a frustrated marketing job hunter.
- I keep getting rejected because I don’t have “enough experience.”
- How the hell can I get experience if no one will give me a shot?
- I just need that one first job and then it’ll be easy from there.
- Even entry-level jobs are looking for 2-3 years of experience. It doesn’t make sense!
- I will take any marketing job at this point, I’m getting desperate.
- I’ve submitted my resume and cover letter to like 20 places and I haven’t heard back. What’s the deal?!
- What miracle do I have to pull to get a damn interview?
- Just because I don’t have experience doesn’t mean I wouldn’t rock that role (get it? rock…role…).
Believe me, I’ve been there. Three years after I graduated UCF, I decided to take the leap from a finance career into marketing.
Thanks to all the mistakes I made along the way, it took me a whole year to find a job.
But I don’t want the same thing to happen to you.
Listen. Literally. Say this out loud and listen to the words. “Stop. Complaining. Start. Gaining.”
For every bit of energy you spend complaining, you are wasting valuable time that you could be gaining. By gaining I mean gaining experience, gaining relationships, gaining knowledge, just getting gains!
For business owners, it doesn’t make sense to hire someone with no experience. I mean, it’s a huge risk and cost to hire a new employee.
You’re a stranger, they’ve never heard of you, you don’t have directly relevant experience, and nobody recommended you. Admit it, you wouldn’t even hire you.
So what can you do? Well, this first tip is pretty obvious, but it’s the “how” part that’s the challenge…
1. Find any opportunity to gain experience (yes, I said “gain” again)
If you’re still in college, or if you can afford to, you need to find an internship and jump on that ASAP.
When you get there, you need to impress. Don’t just get stuck doing administrative work or fetching coffee for people. Ask every person you can to sit down with you and show you what they do.
And don’t just talk shop either. Ask them about what they like to do outside of work, their favorite food, whatever you can think of.
You don’t want to leave an internship with zero connections. People will remember you better if you engage in conversation beyond work. Find something that you have in common and chat about it.
Continue to ask for learning opportunities. Seriously, keep asking to learn everything you can until someone tells you no. Don’t be annoying, but be a little annoying.
Nobody is going to come and find you and ask you if you want to learn something, you have to take the wheel.
Maybe you’re in your mid-20s and you can’t afford to intern during work hours because you have a full-time job.
No worries. There’s plenty of volunteer opportunities out there where you can get your feet wet.
Reach out to local non-profits and ask if they’d like some help with their marketing. The more specific you are about how you’d like to assist, the better.
The beauty of volunteering is that you can discover what you enjoy and what you’re good at. Spend 2-3 hours a week of your own time on these types of opportunities.
Now it’s much more difficult to individually reach out to organizations who need volunteer help. I highly suggest reaching out to Ad 2 and asking about the Public Service team. You don’t need to submit a resume or go through any interviews. If you want to help, you can.
This is actually how I got the experience that I needed. I volunteered for Ad 2’s Public Service team and worked on a campaign for Save The Manatee Club in 2015. The results and references that I got from this project were the direct reason I landed my first marketing job.
It’s the easiest way to get experience that you can slap those employers in the face with and say “YES, I do have experience.”
2. Attend keynotes, events, trade shows. Get your face out there.
The word networking sounds so… dirty. That word triggers visuals of stock-photo-business people shaking hands in a well-lit room. Don’t think of that word.
Think of it as becoming familiar.
Your resume is just a piece of paper with a bunch of letters on a word doc. You need to make yourself familiar.
Science has proven that people are more inclined to like you (or call you back for an interview) if they recognize you. It’s called the “familiarity principle.” It says that “the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likeable that person appears to be.”
For example, after you attend a keynote, stick around and mingle among the attendees. Talk about the topics of the conference, ask them questions about what they do and try to connect on any level possible.
Here’s a common mistake people make: familiarity events (see what I did there) are NOT about trying to impress people. It’s about finding commonalities and connecting with people. The “impressing” part is for later.
You have to be as authentic and genuine as possible during these events. People are attracted to that.
Let me give you an example. I went to a forum event where they had several expert speakers engaging in a discussion. Afterwards, everyone was mingling and chatting with some of the forum speakers. One of them was wearing a hat with the Florida State flag on it.
This yuppie-looking fella walks up (T-shirt, jeans and blazer) and says “Oh I bet my generations go further back then yours in Florida. Let me just put it this way – my last name is Primrose. I think my grandpa was the mayor or something like that.”
If you have ever heard a real car crash, try to re-imagine that sound right now. This type of forced self-promotion is a big no-no.
The point of attending these things is to find opportunities, not to try and create them on the spot.
It’s always good to prepare for these types of things. In the week leading up, listen to some marketing podcasts or read up on what’s going on in the marketing world (which you should be doing anyway).
The more knowledge you can drop, the better. If you can bring up a perspective or insight about something marketing-related that the other person hasn’t heard of before, it will be 10x more impressive than being named after an old mayor.
3. It’s not who you know, it’s who you reach out to.
Don’t forget to re-connect with people you already know or reach out to meet some new people.
If you had a course with a group project, reach out to some of those fellow students to see if you can get them to write up a recommendation for you on LinkedIn or even as a job reference.
For what little experience you do have, you want to leverage it as much as possible. There’s no better way to do this than establishing social proof. Once you have real people vouching for you, your credibility (and likeliness of getting hired) skyrockets.
But before you ask them for anything, do something for them. Write them a LinkedIn recommendation, share something they’ve done, or provide them with an article you recently read that you think they might find interesting. You want to give before you ask.
If you know the person well enough, they might be willing to do you a favor without receiving one first.
Just remember, reciprocity is a powerful thing. Bonus points if the favor you originally give requires more effort than the return favor you are asking from them. If they really like you, they will try to “out-do” your original favor, which is the best you can hope for.
You’re going to find yourself in a cycle. One where you look back 6 months and say “what the heck was I thinking?” This is a good thing.
If you’re looking back that far and NOT saying that, then you aren’t growing or adapting. If you’re doing it right, you’ll constantly be learning better ways of starting and advancing your career.
Try to catch yourself every time you are complaining about your job hunt and say “stop complaining, start gaining.” There is no secret formula for success, everyone’s path is different.
But the one thing I can guarantee you is that nobody has ever reached their goals by stressing themselves out. They did it by getting out there and gaining (that’s the last time, I swear) experience, knowledge and connections.
Good luck on your hunt, and please remember to bookmark this post for the next time you find yourself struggling to find a marketing job in Orlando.