How to Snag a Marketing Job Using the Job Skills You Have
how to land a marketing job using your current work experience
Meet Erika! Erika has been a marketer for over ten years, with experience in nearly every area of marketing including communications, brand building and community management in both consumer and enterprise companies. She’s largely worked in growing startups which has enabled her to develop a variety of marketing skills that are highly valued like developing a brand, storytelling through blogging, social media and video and managing vendors and internal teams to get projects done. Most recently she led Corporate Marketing and Internal Communications for Collective Health, a smarter way for companies to provide healthcare coverage for their employees.
What’s super cool about Erika is she built her career step by step, without following a specific playbook but rather by doing things she loved and using the skills she acquired from each work experience to get the next best job for her, creating a story of her experience over time that is extremely interesting and valuable to companies who need strong marketers.
tip #1: you can build marketing skills from jobs in retail and hospitality
Ox: Starting out, you have to find a job. You know a few things about what you like but you’re not sure what to do. How do you get started?
Erika: I had been working at a little retail boutique while I was in college and so I was like, “Okay, well I guess I can start by working in retail.” I ended up working my way up from being a retail associate to being one of the managers at a Kate Spade store near me. The cool thing about retail is you get to develop skills in a lot of areas that are related to marketing. I was merchandising products. I was helping out with customer events. I liked getting to know all of our customers, what they would like and putting together suggestions for them.
People started saying to me, “Hey, have you ever thought about being a marketing?” I didn’t really know at that time exactly what marketing looked liked. I started to learn more about marketing, and that it includes so many different things and also that with all of my retail experience I was building the foundation for a career in marketing.
tip #2: to get started, look for marketing jobs that value the skills you have, like customer service or sales
Ox: So you start to look into marketing and what do you do to get your first marketing job?
Erika: I looked around and found a job in the food industry for a caviar company. They required marketing experience including running events, working with luxury goods, which I had from retail, and doing a bit of selling. The sales part I also had from retail.
As part of this job, I showcased our caviar to generate sales. Sometimes it was doing demos at Whole Foods. Sometimes it was going out to the fanciest chefs in San Francisco and selling them caviar. This helped me further build people skills and sales skills. I also learned a lot about partnerships. We created partnerships with restaurants and wineries to sell more caviar. And we had a retail arm with a website so I got to work with our web designer to put together content for the website. This job was a great next step because I got to try a lot of different things. Our team was super small and it was a fantastic training ground.
One thing I like about startups is they let you be scrappy. You can do something, just test it and if it doesn’t work try something else. I like that mentality and my brain works really well that way. And now that I’ve worked at a larger company, I use my scrappiness in combination with looking at the bigger picture. Now I also take a step back and ask how can we do this the right way the first time. Both mindsets are helpful and really useful skills.
tip #3: whatever your job, you’re learning valuable skills, so work on how you tell that story
Ox: Did you know at this point in your career that all these skills you were acquiring were helping you build a killer skill set for being a well-rounded marketer?
Erika: There have been so many times when I think to myself that I have no idea what I'm doing. That's probably a feeling that never goes away for some people, myself included, but I think when you tell your story like I'm doing right now, or you tell stories in an interview, you start to make the connections for yourself and you're like, “Oh actually I do know what I'm doing. I've done this before.” As you build your career, you will continually be asked to do things you've never had experience doing before. And I think confidence comes when you can say, “Hey, I've never done this before. That doesn't mean I can't do it. I'm just going to go figure it out.”
tip #4: make communication one of your strengths to land any job in marketing
Ox: What one skill do you think is necessary in marketing?
Erika: I would say one of the most important things is to really value communication. That's kind of an easy thing to say and a very hard thing to do. By communication, I mean empowering those around you with the knowledge you have, really showing the thought you put into your work. Making sure you communicate your thought process from beginning to end on why you’ve made certain decisions is so valuable. Showing and communicating the thought behind your work is great for getting everyone onboard with your work and it’s great for building your relationships in the future.
tip #5: when interviewing for marketing jobs, ask about company culture
Ox: You’ve been responsible for making culture shine through communications. How important do you think culture is when evaluating jobs and companies? How do you think about it?
Erika: I don't think you can put too high of a value on it because you spend so much time with your coworkers. And if you are not on the same page in terms of culture, nothing works. Everything is harder. Culture to me does not mean, we have a foosball table and great snacks. Those are all nice things, but culture is really about how you treat your coworkers. Having a great culture means you're getting a lot of people's diverse opinions, getting a lot of different types of knowledge from different places and that all of that knowledge is thought of as important.
The most important thing about culture is that it doesn't live with one department. It doesn't live with internal communications. It doesn't live with HR or your people team. It has to live in every single department and everybody needs to find it important. So one basic question to ask when interviewing is, “what does your company culture mean to you?” The way people approach that answer is so telling. If they start talking about the mission of the company, the values the company holds, that gives you an indication they are thinking about culture.
ox guides can help you break into marketing jobs
Want to hear more of Erika’s story and the skills that helped her build a career in marketing? Check out the video for the complete interview! Looking to get into marketing? Ox guides can help. To get an Ox guide, start a chat from ox.work. We’ll ask you to share a little bit about yourself, like the type of job you have now and the type of job you’re looking for in the future, so that we can connect you with an Ox guide that's right for you.