Anne Holland

SherpaBlog: How to Help a New Grad Land a Marketing Job

July 28th, 2008

It’s the time of year when I get emails from Sherpa readers who are proud parents, aunts or uncles of new college grads. They want to know, “How can my kid land a job?”

The good news: Even in this economic downturn, many companies are hiring junior marketers. The bad news: Most kids are woefully inept at marketing themselves properly to get these jobs.

Fact: When you’re new to an industry or job function, your resume is NOT going to help you much. Not even if it’s polished by a professional writer. Not even if it’s plastered on every job site on the Internet. Not even if it’s emailed out to the universe. Your resume doesn’t contain enough evidence or proof that you can do the job. It can’t – you’re new!

So, what do you do? It all comes down to networking. I’m not talking about an influential mom or dad making a call. That kind of hand-holding won’t help your child build job-seeking skills for the rest of his or her career. Instead, help your child stand on his or her own feet by suggesting these two tactics:

#1. Informational Interviews
Inspired by the perennial bestseller, ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’, I’ve personally used this tactic four times over my own career and, next week, my newly graduated son is launching his own career the same way.

Pick a particular niche you’d like to explore, such as marketing for a publisher in Washington DC. Then, write letters to people in that field asking for an informational interview. Be clear that you’re not asking for a job, you’d just like to hear what it’s like to be in their position because it’s your goal. Also, let them know you’re not asking for much time – just 15-30 minutes at a time of their convenience anytime in a particular week.

Key – the interview must happen in person so you can make that connection. Go armed with questions, including: “How did you start your own career in this?” and “What do you like and dislike most about this career?” Last: “Is there anyone else you’d recommend I meet with in this industry/area to learn more?”

In the end, you’ll have a much better idea if this is the right career for you; plus, you’ll have honed your in-person interview skills to help you land it. And, if a position does come up later at any of the organizations where you did an informational interview, your chances of landing it are 1000% better than anyone else’s in the stack of resumes.

How do you find the people to interview with? Try your college alumni center (the president of Google told me earlier this year he’s always happy to interview an alum), as well as LinkedIn (this is where your parents’ connections can help you) and, of course, the blogosphere (execs who blog are very likely to say yes to info interviews.)

#2. Targeted Temping
Again, pick a target city/area and industry. Then, contact HR departments of your target companies and ask them, “Which temp agency do you use?” Often, most of the companies will use the same couple of temp agencies. From there, it’s a quick day’s work to go down to each temp agency and sign up. Remember that typing tests, a suitable outfit, and office experience count.

Your goal is to get sent into one or more of your target companies in any position at all. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the front desk or back in the files. It doesn’t matter what department you’re in. Don’t be picky. You’re getting a golden chance to schmooze, networking within the company itself while you “work” there, if only for a few days.

Most executives would rather hire that bright young temp for a junior job than sift through the awful pile of resumes trying to figure out who the best one is. I know since that’s how I got my first job in marketing.
By the way, here’s a link to my past blog on how to break into the Internet marketing field specifically:

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