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Transitioning into a marketing field?

I am soon to be graduating with my BA in marketing, I have been an office receptionist/ assistant for a while now but I like to change since my field is now marketing. I don't find my current situation fulfilling anymore. I have tried applying to marketing firms as a receptionist to get a good start but I never hear back from them. I actually found a perfect marketing job I'm really interested in, which is a video game corporation but I'm somewhat hesitant because my lack of experience, how can I go about my situation? Thanks so very much! #marketing #career-paths

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Jeanne’s Answer

What an exciting prospect - making a career change is difficult, but there are things you can do to improve your chances. Companies need to know that you are (1) interested/passionate (2) capable. You'll need to use your resume, cover letter, and free time to convince them of this.

A few tips:

  • Make sure your resume highlights any communications, outreach, media, PR, marketing experience, as well as your coursework. As a receptionist, if you had to deal with different people, convince them to do something, whatever functions a marketing person might do, highlight that in your resume so that it speaks to the role you seek. This demonstrates that you are capable.

  • Consider entry level marketing positions (i.e. positions for graduates right out of school); they generally don't require marketing experience. this is a good way to demonstrate that you are passionate.

  • Become an expert and make it known. do a lot of research (blogs, articles, marketing focused websites) and develop an opinion. start a blog or twitter account, and write about topics related to marketing (perhaps video game marketing if that is your dream job). make sure you include a link to your blog on your resume. A firm will question your capability and interest in marketing much less if they see you have taken initiative on your own to explore it. This demonstrates that you are capable and passionate.

  • Offer to intern for a company (potentially for free) in a marketing role so that you can build up your resume with experience

  • Use your cover letter to explain your interest/excitement in marketing, any classes you've taken, and why you are interested in that particular company (i.e. why you think the video game corporation is offering the perfect marketing job, and why you are a great candidate).

Hope that helps. It's really a tough and admirable thing to switch into a new industry, but be patient and persevere, and something will come along, especially if you have a BA in marketing. Good luck!

Thank you so very much. Should I start drafting my cover letter now? I graduate in about four weeks and I really would like to start asap.. KarenLSil .

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Jared’s Answer


[I am basing my answer off my experience getting my first job, even though it was not in Marketing]

You've already taken the first step: find something you love and get the education you need for that career. Now you need to take it to the finish line - the first job. You haven't heard back from your first few applications, which may at first seem disheartening, but take that hesitation and flip that around into positive energy. Getting a call-back is the first milestone, but remember that interviews are also a big hurdle that you need to overcome to get the chance you want. Remember: every successful marketer you've ever met lacked experience when they got their first job or internship. You've got to start somewhere. At this point, you would be best served by being persistent about (1) applying for opportunities and (2) constantly improving your candidacy.

#1 Persistently Applying

Remember that in this depressed economy competition is fierce. You may have to apply to dozens, or even hundreds of jobs before you get the opportunity you want. Do everything you can to find new opportunities - check monster's job boards, craigslist's marketing job board, websites like careerbuilder, and any of a number of other websites like simply hired. But looking online isn't a very personal approach, so you should also spend some time going to marketing meetups in your city, where you can find mentors, get advice and learn the lingo, while getting your business card out there among people who might end up giving you a job. Since you're in college, you should have a career services department that will have some job opportunities. I've even seen people ask their friends in other schools to check their listings as well and forward contact information for the resume submissions (although I'm not sure whether this is allowed at every school). There are a number of other ways to find out about new opportunities, and you should pursue those as well.

#2 Persistency Improving your Candidacy

No matter how successful you are, you can always improve. To get the first job, when you don't have experience, you need to be extra cautious to constantly improve your candidacy. Your candidacy is made up of several parts: your resume, your cover letter, your interviews, your online presence, and any other correspondence you have with the company. Make sure you get feedback from others on all of this. Here are some example ideas:

  • Get feedback on your resume from EVERYONE you know. I sent my resume to my peers in school, my parents, my friends from High School, my teachers, and random people I met at events. To get really good feedback, go to a marketing meetup and find someone who is experienced and ask them if they'll give you feedback on your resume.

  • Get feedback on your cover letters the same way. Don't forget what you learned in marketing. In this case you're the product - how do you sell yourself effectively? You need to really nail your cover letters. The biggest issue I've seen with cover letters is that they are grammatically incorrect or confusing - that's grounds for instantly discarding an application. From the employer's perspective, this makes sense, because they can only assume that the applicant is giving the cover letter 100%, and if there are errors, that's an indication that even when the applicant is giving it 100%, the applicant cannot communicate clearly and is not paying attention to detail.

  • Make an arrangement with a trusted advisor to get feedback on your email communications with a company. Then BCC them on every email you send to the company (or forward the email chain to them after the fact) so that you can get feedback from your advisor.

  • Do practice interviews with marketing people and friends. Give them some questions to ask you and have them grade you on your performance.

  • Do a google search for your name and see what turns up. Try logging into a friend's computer to do the same search and make sure everything there is professional. Do you have a website? If so, is it professional and marketing-related? Do the same search on facebook (any potential employer is going to check your facebook to make sure you're not a risk, so you'd better carefully manage that by setting the privacy settings on anything that could be viewed on your facebook)

You're at a disadvantage if you try to do all of this alone. You're not alone - everyone has been in your shoes. You can - should - must ask for help.


<html><head></head><body>As a follow-up, I was directed to this blog post, which might be helpful as well: <a href="http://www.ryandurkin.com/blog/2011/11/dan-smith-marketing-positions-startups-can-fill-with-new-grads/" rel="nofollow">http://www.ryandurkin.com/blog/2011/11/dan-smith-marketing-positions-startups-can-fill-with-new-grads/</a></body></html> Jared Chung BACKER

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Alicia’s Answer

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I started my career in marketing and found that a couple things helped me get in the door:

1) In the position you have now, do you have the ability to take on any marketing responsibilities or duties? Things like office flyers or promotions, helping craft email messages that are for internal or external audiences - those are marketing experiences that you could highlight on your resume, but you could do now in your current role. You could share with your manager your interest in marketing and ask if there are any marketing related responsibilities you could assist with in your current role.

2) Internships are a great way to get experience in different fields. I had a variety of internships in different fields in order to figure out where my passions were and what I wanted to pursue. You could consider looking for internship positions first, in marketing, and see if those positions have the opportunity for full time employment upon internship completion. That's a great way to get in the door.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Best of luck to you!

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Angela’s Answer

Congrats on graduating! Don't shy away from applying to jobs you find interesting and or passionate about. I would just make sure tailor your resume for each job you are applying for. Make sure to look over the requirements for reach role, and then highlight your relevant experience on your resume. For example, if they are looking for 'sales' skills, highlight any type of sales work you've done in previous jobs.

Also, +1 to internships. if you can afford it, I would definitely look for an internship or co-op to get your foot in the door. Sometimes they are only part time, so you can work another job as well to make money.

Hope this helps - good luck!


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Katharine Vlcek’s Answer


You have some really good responses already but I would definitely recommend at least offering to come in for an Informational interview. Also, be sure to try to find the name of someone at the company as opposed to just e-mailing your resume into a black hole. And, as others have said, be sure t

Otherwise, I agree with what everyone else said above.

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Steve’s Answer

First - do not despair! You've got plenty going for you to help get you a marketing job. I find the key is to build on your strengths and your passions. I have no idea what else you may be interested in or what other skills you may have learned while a receptionist, but I would have to guess that you are great with people, an expert organizer and you know how to calmly deal with multitasking and disasters. When I was managing entry-level marketing folks - those were ALL things I looked for, even before asking about a degree.

If you're passionate about the video game field, look at how they frame their descriptions - what adjectives they use to describe the job and what duties they expect you to be able to do. Also, put some thought into why that job in particular is such a dream job for you. I'd literally print out the description and highlight the words that make you most excited.

For when (yes when, not if) you apply for that job, focus your letter on those things. When you get an interview, talk about how your skills would help them achieve the things they say they want you to do.

And if that one doesn't work out, take that list of highlighted adjectives and duties and start looking for more jobs around that. It WILL happen!

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Shreya’s Answer

Here are my suggestions:

a) Work for free. Either intern for a company or try skills-based volunteering. Many non profits, startups, and other small businesses needed marketing help and could use your skills. This could include design, copywriting, market research, etc. This will help you build a portfolio that you can show potential employers.
b) Make sure you list any Marketing skills on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Describe any Marketing projects you've done, and get recommendations and endorsements from your professors and classmates.
c) Expand your role at your current job. Are there marketing projects you could take on, in addition to your current role as a receptionist? You may have to think of these projects yourself and then offer to do them.