In a job market where many resumes boast the title “marketing guru,” it’s not enough to be well-versed in social media, analytics, and basic marketing strategy anymore. Candidates must stand out and display a proactive – rather than reactive – marketing mentality that spots trends coming before they happen. Exceptional candidates in today’s market have to showcase their creativity, strategic thinking, and familiarity with what’s been done before – as well as potential to uncover what hasn’t been done yet. The first step in proving oneself as a true marketing leader is, of course, the application process.
Applying for marketing jobs should be looked at as a unique opportunity: there are few roles outside of marketing that are better suited for a creative resume – and marketing candidates should take this to heart. Creating a skill-based, forward-thinking project out of your resume may be your best bet at standing out from other applicants. Keep in mind that rule-followers will be the most unexceptional candidates in the application process.
Any employer looking to hire a marketing rockstar wants to see that you can think outside the box. Here are a few steps to follow to make sure your application and profile does just this:
Read through the application once
Jot down the most emphasized areas required – you don’t want to completely de-rail the application and avoid important content that the employer actually needs to know about you. Make sure you address these areas carefully, and leave the creative segment as more of an addition.
Show your creative side
Look for your creative opportunity. Is there an open-ended essay segment? Perfect. Is there a section where you’re asked to come up with a marketing plan? Even better. Set these aside and be prepared to focus most of your energies here.
Once you’ve determined your entry point that will help you to showcase your potential creativity, step away from the assignment. Put some distance between the initial question and what you eventually come up with – you want to force yourself to thinking outside the box here, and it won’t happen if you continue to stare at the original question.
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Show your strengths
Decide what your best strengths are and how you want to showcase them. Determine how to get these strengths on “paper” – through showing, not telling. Keep a list of your 3-5 top skills handy while you work on your creative segment.
Don’t explain yourself
If you’re deviating from the original questions at all in a creative area, don’t overthink it and don’t apologize. Your potential employer should be surprised and thrilled that you’ve chosen to break outside of the mold – if they know anything about good marketing.
Show them the real deal
Be sure to display your work from start to finish. Showing how you got an answer is where your real skills come out. If a potential employer can see the process you went through in some way, they’ll know that you’re a strategic thinker as well as a creative.
If your work isn’t completely presentable, don’t bother. Part of a successful marketing project is how well the finished piece looks visually (you can consult the help of a designer if you have to). Some applicants choose to create their own website with all of their personal information and separate pages for their creative projects – this route generally works well if the website is laid out in an appealing way.
For every job, a resume, cover letter, and application are critical – nothing else will prove your potential to a future employer more – and this is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, it’s a small window of opportunity. On the other hand, it’s a creative opportunity. So approach it as such and you’ll be more likely to succeed.
Ultimately, don’t be afraid to break a few rules if it means that your abilities will be better presented. Disregarding the given set of requirements (within reason) and expanding on them or submitting something more unique and thoughtful is often all it takes to move to the top of the list.