Mastering The Job Application For Marketing Roles
By this point, you’ve taken personal inventory and ranked the 6 Career Factors, you’ve found out how to find available marketing roles outbound-style, and you’ve started to put out the bat-signal that you’re #ONO (open to opportunities) with your personal and professional network.
Now comes the next major milestone in your journey to landing your dream job in marketing: applying.
TMH Words of Wisdom: The resume gets you the interview; the interview gets you the job.
The key to this step of your journey is understanding your goal.
For the Job Application step, your goal is to...you guessed it...land interviews. However, depending on where you are in your career, you may go about achieving that in two ways...
Are relatively you new at interviewing and looking to get a handful of ‘at-bats’ before you interview for your dream job?
Or are you a more experienced interviewer looking for the dream interview right away?
This will determine your next step for applying to the jobs you find on those job boards...
If you’re green at interviewing, you’ll want to send out a higher volume of applications. Don’t worry about having to commit to too many interviews than your schedule can handle. Once potential employers start getting back to you, you’ll be able to sift through the companies and only schedule calls or meetings with what your schedule allows.
Tip: this also applies to those who aren’t new at interviewing, but just haven’t gone on an interview in a few years. Good to get a few at-bats with employers you wouldn’t actually consider, just to shake off the rust, so you’re sharp when the dream interview comes!
If, on the other hand, you’ve already been on several interviews within the last year, and you feel like you’re knocking them out of the park, then you can be more selective with the applications you send in and spend more time on each one.
At this point, a little organization goes a long way and saves a lot of time. Keep in mind, you may be applying to 5-10 roles each week, and it’s easy to lose track of customized cover letters, resume versions, job descriptions, and hiring managers.
As always, TheMarketingHelp has your back. Check out The Organized Job Outreach Tracker, and you’ll never wonder which resume version it was, or whom you’re waiting to hear back from.
Now, remember our TMH Words of Wisdom from earlier? Your resume gets you the interview; your interview gets you the job.
Our goal for this stage is to get interviews, so a great resume is mission critical.
But there’s more to it than a 2-page piece of paper. To use a movie analogy...
Start with a great cover letter - this is your personal ‘movie trailer’ for the hiring manager.
The, your resume is the ‘opening credits’ for the hiring manager to get to know your experience.
Your interview is ‘the performance’ - show that you’re personable, a good communicator, a good fit for the role, and a good fit for the company’s culture.
Finally, your interview followup is the ‘end credits’ - you want to linger in the hiring manager’s mind for a few days after the interview to differentiate yourself from other potential candidates.
Let’s dig into the first two - the cover letter and the resume...
Your Cover Letter
Ever heard the expression “You don’t have a second chance to make a first impression”? Wisdom can be found everywhere, even in dandruff commercials…
No doubt you’re familiar with the cover letter. It’s a one-sheeter that accompanies your resume and sets the context for your resume and application.
While the cover letter can be templatized - and yes, please use The Perfect Cover Letter Template - one needs to be created for each application you send out. Nothing says “Next” like an applicant’s “Dear Sir/Madam” generic cover letter.
And don’t feel like you need to write an essay as your cover letter. On the contrary, a long cover letter will likely be skipped right over, defeating its entire purpose.
Ideally, your cover letter should be only a concise paragraph or two that answers a few questions for the hiring manager:
Who you are
How you became aware of the role
How the role aligns with your personal mission
Finally, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for your cover letter...
Cover Letter Do:
Write in short, succinct, skimmable sentences
Tell a story
Ask an insightful question
Provide observations & recommendations on their marketing programs
Use bullet points to underscore exactly how you can help
Address it to the hiring manager or department, if you’re sure of it
Cover Letter Don’t:
Write in big block paragraphs
Restate what you’ve done - that’s your resume
Forget to include your email or phone number
Address it to the hiring manager or department, if you’re unsure of it
This is where Millennials and Gen Z has an advantage - these two generations are naturally achievement oriented.
Your resume needs to be an overview of crowning achievements, not just a summary of your past roles and responsibilities.
There are plenty of snazzy resume templates and tools out there, so we’re not deep-diving into resume layout now. We do, however, have a slick Impactful Resume Generator that we’ll come back to in a moment...
The one thing we will say about design here is that the resume should reflect your potential employer as much as it reflects you, the applicant.
A slick, eye-popping resume design may go over well for an agency or startup role, as this could reflect creativity and innovation, important values at agencies and startups.
But a more typical .docx resume may go over better at a large enterprise organization where that could reflect detail-orientation and play nicely in HR standardization.
Now, when composing your resume achievements, we recommend using this framework:
“[Action Verb] sales/efficiency/growth by [X%] through use of [list tactics or how you used specific channels or tools] over [Y time period]. This resulted in [Z measurable outcome].”
Here’s an example of an achievement-oriented resume line item from an intern experience:
“Increased qualified leads to ‘Intro to Email Marketing’ ebook by 37% through use of Facebook and Twitter lead gen cards over Q1 of 2019. Leads converted at a 12% higher rate than other lead generation campaigns or sources.”
If I’m hiring for lead generation, you’ve got my attention! A few more succinct ‘experience nuggets’ like that, and you’re on the fast track to an interview.
And finally, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for your resume...
Focus on results-oriented ‘experience nuggets’
Highlight efforts where you took initiative and managed a situation of change
Feature achievements that are relevant to the ask of the role
Try to show a progression from one company or role to the next, where possible
List a certification AND how you applied that certification
Include links to your online portfolio, personal website and/or LinkedIn profile
Have both .pdf and .docx versions handy (some HR systems only take one format)
List 'Social Media' as a skill...instead, be more specific, like 'Social Customer Acquisition’
Include hobbies or passion projects that have no relevance to the company or role
List a certification BUT no information about how you applied that certification
Lead with a generic objective like ‘Maximize My Impact’..instead include a personal mission statement, like ‘Enabling Patients Online Find The Right Care Solutions.’
Once your cover letter and resume are complete, you’re ready to apply.
Most systems are fairly similar and feature a three-step process to submit an application, but be sure to read all the fine print and submit everything being asked for. Some will require reference contacts; others will require you to paste online profile links into special fields, and so on.
Read every word of the application page. This is the time to measure twice and cut once.
After you hit send, go ahead and update The Organized Job Outreach Tracker. You don’t want to lose track of which resume was sent to which job and to what company.
And for those applicants who really want to land the interview, there’s one final step. If you can locate the job’s hiring manager - for example, if the job opening is listed on LinkedIn, it will usually feature the job poster’s profile - connect with that person and let them know you just applied.
Believe it or not, this tiny extra effort can help you get to the top of the pile. Sometimes you can even start a dialog with the HR contact or hiring manager (if you’re lucky) and get some intel on timing and next steps with their application process.
“Ah yes, thanks for sending in an application, John. Our HR team will be reviewing all the resumes this week, and you should hear something next week. We’re a small team, so we move pretty quickly!”
That’s a very common email or LinkedIn reply to a proactive applicant, and you’ve just gotten so much juicy intel!
When they’ll be reviewing applications…
How long until you’ll likely hear back…
If you haven’t heard back by then, when you should follow up…
That the team is small and nimble, giving you an idea of size of company, budgets, agility, etc…
That you’ve found a relevant interview stakeholder for background research…
(If you do this pro move, be sure to put the key info into The Organized Job Outreach Tracker.)
So there you have it. Job application best practices, from how to find open roles, to writing the cover letter, designing your resume, and applying for the job.
Now, it’s time for the big show...The Interview.