Curious ? Mindset on a black graduation cap

Go celebrate your academic achievements, the many college friendships you’ve developed, and the fun experiences you’ve shared together. You’ve earned it, so enjoy the moment. But then it’ll be time to go to work.

For those of you considering job opportunities in marketing at an agency such as TriComB2B or with a company’s internal team, welcome to our world. We help businesses understand the challenges their customers face so they can clearly explain how their products and services efficiently and profitably address those issues.

The good news is that, even though you’re fresh out of school, you can still immediately contribute. We want and need you to. So expect to talk with hiring managers at marketing agencies and in corporate marketing departments about …

What matters most

It’s not the number of summer jobs or internships you’ve had. These experiences can expose you to some of the knowledge and skills you’ll need in your first marketing role. But what we’re really looking for is how much you’ve discovered about how a business operates, how it makes money and — here’s the critical lesson — how to deal with a demanding (external or internal) customer who’s having a bad day.

Marketing is a professional service. So more than anything else, our clients depend on us to provide the right support to complete their projects on time, within budget, and at consistently high levels of quality and originality. We must be the bright spot in their day. You can help us succeed at that by responding promptly to their requests, following through, and help doing everything we said we’d do.

The most valuable skill

We don’t expect you to get it all done by yourself. Quite the opposite: Collaboration is key to marketing success.

An agency or a corporate marketing team is a wonderous mixture of personalities and skillsets. We value that diversity because it enables new ideas to bubble up and encourages us to see, hear and learn from other perspectives. That’s how we thrill clients and internal stakeholders alike. That’s also how we help them attract new customers and drive sales. Collaboration elevates our work.

So we hire designers, developers, writers, editors, search and media specialists, and account managers with varied backgrounds who exhibit high levels of selflessness. Sure, they have egos. We need people who can confidently create, pitch, explain and advocate for their ideas. But we hire people for their ability to temper their egos in ways that drives our work without being disruptive.

That’s the most useful skill you can add to a marketing team on day one.

One of the principals here at TriComB2B, Chris Eifert, calls it “the intangibles”. He and other marketing leaders will want to hire you if you can join in the give and take of concepting, project planning, reviews and revisions internally and with clients or stakeholders paying for the work. The trick is to share your thoughts, respectfully consider what others (co-workers as well as clients) bring up, and then build upon each other’s questions and suggestions.

The right questions

Finding a marketing job and getting hired is a two-way process. When an agency or company’s internal marketing team offers you a position, they believe you’ll be an asset and worth their investment in you. Before you accept an offer, ask the hiring manager the following questions, which can reveal whether the marketing agency or a company’s internal marketing team are the right fit for you:

  • How have other recent college graduates contributed?
  • What will be expected of me in three months? Six months? Twelve months?
  • How does the agency or company plan to grow during next year or two, and what part does marketing and your role play in those plans?
  • What groups, projects and causes does the marketing organization support in its local community?
  • How does the agency or company train its employees to perform well in their current jobs and prepare them for additional responsibilities and their next roles?

And, be sure to ask about how they will define success for you in the job you’re considering and for the agency or company as a whole.

What’s on your resume

Of course, we need designers and developers to understand today’s design concepts and demonstrate proficiency in a broad range of techniques and advanced digital tools.

Likewise, writers, editors and video producers must possess proven language and visual skills across a broad range of short- and long-form content for print and digital distribution or display.

Account managers who interact directly with clients must have strong interpersonal skills in order to build and maintain relationships. In addition, they need to be able to prepare, negotiate and meet budgets as well as keep projects moving forward.

And we also need specialists with a track record of delivering positive results utilizing sophisticated targeting of social media, email and online advertising.

All these skills are good to have. If you’ve got ‘em on your resume, marketing organizations will want to interview you. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: We search for people with an ability to quickly sort through data about customers, competitors and trends in order to identify new opportunities.

We want to hire people who can spot a critical change in behavior or an unmet need. You obviously don’t have deep market analysis and strategy experience; but what you can bring is an intense curiosity and an analytical mindset. Want to score bonus points? Tell us about something you discovered and later leveraged in a new way for a class project, during an internship or at a summer job.

That will get our attention.

Start a conversation, not an interview

Don’t look for a job. Instead, look for the place where you want to work.

Ask professors about marketing agencies and companies they admire. Research marketing award show results; volunteer at associations that host the awards. Find the award-winning work you love and learn more about who produced it. Then contact the creative director at the award-winning agency or the senior marketing executive at the award-winning company and ask them for a few minutes to answer your questions.

Don’t ask them for a job. Instead, tell them about how you found them, what work from the award show spoke to you, and see if they can tell you anything that can help you begin your career.

Let them know whether you’re considering moving or staying in the area; then ask them to suggest other professional marketers in the area whom they recommend you contact to learn more about their organizations.

Now it’s a conversation, not a job interview.

These marketing leaders will get to share opinions with you without pressure. They’ll know the reputable agencies and companies and often can introduce you to important contacts in their marketing networks. Or they might learn something about you that can help their agency or company — and then decide to ask you to join their team.

That’s how to put yourself in the best position to find the first job that’s right for you. So call us. We’ll buy the coffee and take the time to listen to what you want to do next. Come loaded with questions, too. We’re excited about the doors this may open for both of us.