Clariant Creative is in growth mode, and it’s a wonderful thing. What isn’t so wonderful? Wading through the process of finding the right person to fill a marketing job.
Whether you’re on the hiring side of the table or an applicant trying to take your marketing career to the next level, we’d like to pass along some advice. Feel free to share this with anyone else in the same boat as you.
Here’s what your next marketing employer wants you to know.
We recently expanded our team and hired a wonderful Inbound Marketing Specialist. Christina is fantastic, and we’re beyond thrilled to have found her. But the process of finding her was a little painful – which frankly surprised me.
The problem wasn’t a lack of qualified applicants.
Trust me, they’re out there. In just one week’s time, we were swamped with over 100 applicants. I recently spoke with another agency who said they waded through more than 1,000 applicants over the course of several months.
The problem was the quality of the applications.
Another way to say this? Too many qualified applicants are submitting poor-quality applications.
Think about that for a minute. What a shame to be a great marketer but be unable to land a great job because you’re not marketing yourself in the right way.
Marketing and applying for a job are exactly the same things. The principles that produce great marketing are the same principles that will land you a great marketing job. So if you want to nab the next higher title in your marketing career ladder, it’s time you start thinking like a marketer.
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Whether you’re hitting a wall trying to land a job or just starting out on the hiring path, take a long, hard look at what you’re doing to make sure you’re not accidentally shooting yourself in the foot with your approach. The more you can diligently apply what you know about marketing to the way you’re applying for these jobs, the sooner you’ll be a-okay.
Based on our most recent experience as well as the feedback we’ve heard from other agencies in the same boat, here are the top four mistakes we saw when trying to fill our open position.
Mistake #1: Only think about what YOU want.
The #1 principle in great marketing is to focus on meeting the needs of your customers.
When you’re applying for a job, your potential employer = your customer.
We saw too many cover letters that started out explaining “This job would be a great fit for me because I’m looking for a role that lets me do X, Y and Z …” and not enough cover letters that said “I would be a great fit for your company because my experience with X means I can bring A, B and C benefits to your company …”
Takeaway: Show me you understand what I need.
Mistake #2: Don’t bother to customize your cover letter.
The #2 principle in great marketing is to always sound genuine.
You can’t do this if you’re sending the same cover letter with every application.
An experienced marketer can sniff out a form letter from a mile away. So tell me, why should I bother reading what you sent me if you can’t bother taking the time to write something just for me?
Using a form letter screams laziness. From the perspective of an employer looking to hire a team member who is proactive, conscientious and on the ball, a form letter is the opposite of what I want to see, and it makes me question how hard you’ll actually work for me if I hire you.
Takeaway: Write your cover letter as if you’re talking directly to me.
Mistake #3: Ignore any job requirements you don’t meet
Remember the #1 principle in marketing about meeting the customer’s needs?
If I’ve stated a specific requirement, I’ve done so because it will help me fill a specific need.
However, here’s a secret: If you don’t possess that requirement, I may be willing to overlook it – but only if you can prove why you’re worth it.
If you know in your heart you’re a great fit for me, by all means, apply. Just don’t ignore the elephant in the room. I’m going to notice that you don’t have the requirement, so be proactive about it. Think about my need that’s behind the requirement. How else can you show me you can do what I need done?
This is particularly important if your career path has been non-traditional – and especially so if you’re just starting out in your career and you need to establish credibility without the benefit of years of experience. Make it clear to me why I should take a chance on you.
One caveat: Be humble. We received one application from a gentleman who did not have the key certification we requested; in his cover letter, he stated that because he had so much experience, it should be obvious that he was more than qualified for us. It came across as arrogant and off-putting – NOT the sort of person we wanted on our team.
Takeaway: Show me why your background, skills or talent will make up for the omission.
Mistake #4: Don’t pay attention to detail
I’d like to say this is a marketing principle, but really, this is true for ANY professional in ANY industry.
Your cover letter, resume and portfolio (if you’re sending one) should represent your absolute best foot forward. It all has to be flawless.
I’m specifically thinking about the otherwise delightful woman who unfortunately misspelled our company name in her cover letter. It’s a tiny but fatal mistake. And it’s non-negotiable for me.
A colleague of mine in the middle of an exhausting search to fill a critical role told her team out of frustration, “The next applicant who sends me a hand-written thank you note, with proper grammar, will get hired on the spot.”
Takeaway: Details always matter. Proofread everything, have a friend proofread everything, and then proofread it all again.
Hopefully, you’re not making any of these mistakes and I’m preaching to the choir. Maybe, pointing out these mistakes causes you to cast a more critical eye on your own approach to your marketing career. And just possibly, you’ll take this advice to heart, and your next application will land you the marketing job of your dreams.
If that happens, I’d love to hear from you. How did our advice help? What did you change about the way you presented yourself? What does your new employer say helped you stand out from the crowd?
And, of course, the most important thing of all: Congratulations!