Sunday, 26 March 2017

How to launch a career in marketing when you don't have a marketing degree

Since entering the blogging world I've noticed that some of us have something in common - an awful lot of bloggers I follow are working in or hoping to work in marketing. I only settled on marketing as my chosen field during my final year of university, and have managed to carve out a career for myself armed with an English Literature degree and buckets of enthusiasm. But when so many employers are on the hunt for candidates with pure marketing degrees and absurdly expensive certifications (I'm looking at you Certified Institute of Marketing), how can you make yourself stand out?

Know what you don't know

The hardest thing to do is sell yourself - I can confidently produce marketing material for just about anything, but when it comes to talking all things 'me' it gets difficult. That's why it's important to find the gaps and weaknesses in your CV before somebody else does and invest some time in filling those holes, adding as much value as you can to your experience and qualifications so far. Whatever you do, don't claim you have extensive knowledge of something if you don't. Marketing is a very broad field and most interviewers will expect you to have specialisms and areas you may not have as much experience of.

Apply your skills

Some of the qualifications best suited to marketing aren't even taught in the business faculty. My degree in English Lit gave me heaps of transferable skills, from the obvious ones like a high standard of written communication and the ability to hit multiple deadlines, to less obvious ones like working in groups and conducting in-depth research. I've met marketers with communications degrees, multimedia degrees, graphic design qualifications, and no higher education at all - the point is they've all learned a range of skills that fit into marketing really well, and are able to make those connections.

Use free resources to learn more

There are organisations out there that will charge you thousands for an additional marketing qualification, but with the internet now a huge 'how to' resource they're actually becoming less common. There are a large number of free courses and articles out there that you can use to help educate yourself further on different aspects of marketing, from social media to SEO, Google Analytics and more. I've completed a few of them myself over the years, and some are more widely known and highly regarded than others. A good set of short online courses to start with could include:

Get a related hobby

If you've got yourself a blog or are always on your own social media accounts, then you've already got some real-life experience of some aspects of marketing. Growing a blog takes a lot of work and its success ultimately relies on how you market it, so treat it like you would a business and you're bound to have learned more than you think. 

You can also volunteer yourself as a marketer for community events, for example I had my first experience of creating and executing a marketing strategy for a charity day at my university, and also got the chance to help market a Winter Fair in my city. Employers are generally quite impressed if you're enthusiastic enough about the field to do something similar in your own free time - your passion will shine through. Just don't be surprised if after you mention it they go and have a little snoop!

So there you have it - you're ready to take your first steps into the world of marketing, hopefully feeling super prepared and raring to go!

This post is something a little different to my normal subject matter, but I'm working hard to make this space both more personal and above all useful to you lovely readers! If you've found my story and suggestions helpful, or have some other tips you'd like to give, please let me know in the comments!

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