With thanks to George Pepper, a creative marketing graduate, class of 2014, for sharing his thoughts and wisdom.
“If we disbelieve everything because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do much what as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish because he had no wings to fly”.
John Locke (he’s a philosopher)
In other words, don’t think you know it all. Especially when looking for your first creative marketing job.
How to get a creative marketing job
I’m not going to lie to you, getting a job is hard. Getting a creative marketing job is even harder. Getting a creative marketing job that pays well and is fulfilling straight from uni, is something akin to the Holy Grail of jobs.
If you’ve just graduated from university and you are sending out close to one hundred CVs a week, to any company you come across, I’m going to stop you right there.
The fundamental problem with job hunting is the CV itself.
Why do I say this? Well, you don’t want to end up as another piece of paper, on an ever-growing pile of job applications, on the desk of a middle management HR employee who is tasked with whittling down a thousand applications to just 10 interview candidates within a few days.
No! This is not the way to get a creative marketing job.
I know, from firsthand experience, just how soul-crushing it can be to send hundreds of CVs out and not receive so much as an auto-responder thank you.
Think about it for a moment. The very nature of the job you seek requires you to be unique and stand out from the crowd. It’s your talent and your creative ideas they are looking for to market their business.
So how can you expect to get an interview for that creative, brilliant, well paid, life-changing job if your CV is just a bog standard CV?
My point is, you need to do better than just a two page text CV for a creative marketing job.
Start by looking at the core values of the company to work out how to give your CV that extra edge. Remember, the hiring manager doesn’t know you, they cannot read between the lines, and they have no idea of your creativity or talent. You must show them, in no uncertain terms, that you are the person for the job, for example:
If you are applying at a brewery, why not brew some of your own craft beer and send along a case to show you are passionate about brewing?
If you are applying to a magazine publisher, why not make your application into a magazine, book, or web page?
If you are applying within the video game industry, why not find a way to make your CV something of an interactive experience?
Tailoring your application in this way shows that you have knowledge of the industry, you are passionate about the subject matter and you are prepared to go the extra mile to work for that company. It really is a far better way of putting yourself in front of the hiring manager, and will benefit you far more than a few hundred words on a white sheet of paper. In fact, I’d go so far as saying it will pay huge dividends!
When I applied to work for Cyberdog, an alternative clothing company located in Manchester, I submitted my CV with photos attached of myself in a costume that I had built for Comic Con. It had huge plated armour and lights built into it. It was a risk, but I knew the company that I was applying to work for liked alternative ideas. I hoped that the photos I had sent would stick in the mind of the person who sorted through the CVs. I wanted them to look at mine and think, “Wow, how different. It’s great to get something different.”
I was prepared to bet that it would pay dividends throughout the whole selection process, and that the hiring manager would remember me because of those photos; I made myself stand out from the hundreds of other applicants just for approaching things a little differently.
And it worked, I was offered the role.
Follow your passion
It’s all too easy to put passion aside and follow the pay-cheque forgetting that it’s not the day-to-day, physical doing your job that is important, but rather the purpose behind it. If you believe in the end result, the higher purpose, your daily working life will be a breeze.
Many companies are motivated by profit and keeping their shareholders happy. Working for such a company is generally fine – over the short term – but it’s likely that you’ll find your happiness and your creativity disappearing down the drain as your workload increases and they push to get their pound of flesh from you. It’s understandable why many people initially follow the money instead of their passion.
A good number of marketing graduates apply to work in roles that pay well, despite compromising on what they really want in a job. I’d always advise against making money your end goal. Keep what’s unique and creative in you alive, in life and work, and with a bit of luck, they might overlap (it happens more than you would think!)
If you can, find a company that does something that you believe in. Perhaps you want to work for a sustainable business, or you are passionate about developing new technologies. Perhaps you want to work in small team where you know everyone and you have the opportunity to get stuck in and learn. Whatever your passion, it will come across in your job application and in your interview if it’s a genuine desire.
And, finding something at work that you are passionate about, will help you immeasurably with the day-to-day of your job. I know it may seem like such companies and opportunities are rare, but you only need one of them to say yes!
The importance of demonstrating your passion can never be underrated.
It’s a brave new world
Although this way of thinking may not work for all companies. You know the companies I’m talking about – the ones that say they are different, but can’t actually demonstrate HOW they are different. These are the companies that employ cogs to turn the wheel, rather than people with ideas.
Do you really want to work for a company that does not accept new ideas and is festering in the past? In the 21st Century, marketing in all forms has to revolutionise to grab the attention of the busy consumer. We have media competing for attention nearly every second of our waking day.
So we have to think like we have never thought before, to get our ideas noticed. And communicate bold, brave ideas to win business. And it’s no different when you are job-hunting, especially for a creative marketing job.
Never be afraid to try out ideas that your fine mind has come up with. They may not all work – but you will get noticed. Big ideas completely revolutionise life and the lives of others. For example…
Consider, right now as you easily access the internet to read this blog. What would the world look like today if Tim Berners-Lee had dismissed his idea for the world-wide-web? Or the next time your sat nav guides you home, consider Einstein’s theory of relativity that underpins the synchronisation of the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Graduates, friends, comrades: the road ahead will not be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. Your ideas will be shot down, laughed at and under-appreciated – but that does not mean that they are wrong. The only real question is… what breaks first? Other people’s ignorance or your determination?
If you fall down seven times, stand up eight. Doing this, you will always end up on your feet. And then your feet will take you exactly where you want to go.
Best of luck, and stay awesome, George