Are you in the job search for a marketing or advertising job? This guide is designed to help you think through how to create a resume and cover letter that will provide the impact you need to get noticed by hiring managers and land an interview.
We will start with some general tips that apply across the board for professionals in this field, followed by some targeted advice on resume and cover letter design, formatting, and writing. Finally, read on to gain insight on how to make the most of your social and professional network while you search for your next job in marketing.
1) Make Your Specialty Clear
The last few decades have witnessed an explosion in the types of work that marketing professionals do on a day to day basis, largely because of the expansion of online influence through social media and targeted advertising. As a result, there is a large gap in skillsets from one job to another within the field of marketing and advertising.
It might seem like going generic would give you broad appeal to more potential jobs, but what a generic resume really does is make you look less qualified for every job you apply for. Instead, get clear about your areas of interest and expertise and apply to marketing jobs that will make good use of them.
Focus your resume and cover letter to tell a clear story that you offer a strong fit for each position you apply to by tailoring them to the specific qualifications you hold that most closely match the needs of the employer in that role.
2) Anticipate Employer Needs
Of course, your first priority is to convey a strong match to the exact required and preferred qualifications that are specified in the job ad. However, it is advisable to go one step further. Think through the day to day work of the job and make sure your application materials also convey additional skills that will help you meet employer needs that may not have made it into the job advertisement, but are still likely to be highly relevant to the position.
For example, you may be applying for a position as a Social Media Manager and find that the job ad seems highly focused on skills such as SEO, targeted advertising, and technical skills on several social media platforms. However, in addition to having all of those skills, you also have experience working in public relations. You know how important it is to have a clear branding philosophy that is consistently represented to current and future customers. Even though these skills aren’t in the job ad, you know they will help you in your role and be an asset to the employer so drawing some attention to these supplemental skills can give you a valuable edge over other candidates.
3) Razzle Dazzle with Proven Results
Marketing and advertising professionals are on the front lines between a company and their customers. Employers need to know that you deliver results. Whenever possible, in your cover letter, resume, and your networking profiles, emphasize your impressive numbers (as long as doing so does not violate your current or previous employer’s NDA).
Standard rubrics for success in marketing include such metrics as marketing qualified leads (MQL), funnel conversion rates, customer engagement, return on marketing investment, customer retention rates, customer acquisition cost, and the list goes on. You should know the metrics that are most important for your specialty and leverage them quantitatively to impress your future boss.
Marketing Resume Tips
1) Resume Sections for Marketing Professionals
When it comes to choosing which sections to include on your marketing or advertising resume, the key is to really think about which sections and what order will best showcase your fit for the job you are applying for.
For example, if you have a great deal of advertising experience, then choosing to expand your work history section, skipping the skills section, and putting your education near the bottom makes the most sense. On the other hand, if you have only an internship and degree under your belt, then listing the education section followed by a skills section might be your best bet.
Here are the most common resume sections, followed by some more specific tips for making the most of them:
- Contact Information
- Work History
- Education and Certifications
- Honors and Awards
A resume summary, or professional summary (for experienced candidates) is your chance to condense your best pitch for the job in a few sentences or a short bullet list. It won’t do any good to be generic here. If this section of your resume doesn’t convey a strong fit for the job you are applying for, along with some data to back it up, then the odds that your entire resume will even be read are significantly decreased.
Every word counts. Your goal here is to demonstrate that you will be a tremendous asset in the position you are applying for. Be specific and make sure the person that reads this thinks to themselves “Wow. This is the person I have been looking for!”
Highly experienced advertising and marketing pros may decide to skip this section, and instead focus on articulating skills through detailing past job responsibilities. However, if you are new to the field or have 2-3 years of experience, you may choose to emphasize the skills you do have, reducing the emphasis on your shorter work history.
It can be helpful to group your skills into subsections so they are easier to read and convey that you have several areas of proficiency. For example, you may have technical skills working with graphic design, SEO, as well as social media platforms. These could each get a bullet point, with specific tools or platforms listed with each.
Although soft and transferable skills are important, they usually don’t trump technical skills. Therefore, put your tech skills first, followed by soft skills such as the ability to work with diverse teams, excellent customer service, or strong communication skills if they are going to be particularly helpful in the job you are applying for.
iii) Work History
The main thing here is to be sure that every responsibility or accomplishment that you list under each prior work experience is relevant to the position you are applying for. This is especially true if you need to list work from an entirely different field.
Remember to emphasize quantifiable metrics of your previous success in this section where it applies. For instance, if you increased the followers on the Facebook page of your previous employer, make sure to include by how much and how your work led to the increase. For example: Spearheaded a local Facebook ad campaign with a click through rate of .57% that increased followers from 400 to 8,000 in the first month.
2) Keywords for Marketing Resumes
As a marketing professional, you are probably already aware of how search engines such as Google use keywords to help users find relevant web pages. Even if you are no SEO expert, you can still use this basic insight to make sure your resume makes it through the first round of review, more often than not, performed by a computer looking for the right resume buzzwords.
The right keywords to use vary a great deal from one job to another. Start with the job ad and make sure to mirror the language of the required and preferred qualifications where possible. In addition, do some research on the exact job title to find keywords that are likely to be used. Incorporate industry jargon, but only if it is widely used among pros in your field. Finally, choose strong action verbs that capture key qualifications that are essential for performing the job well.
Here are some examples of keywords used for marketing jobs. However, remember that each job will have keywords tailored to the specific qualifications, credentials, and skills for that position:
- Advertising strategy
- Brand management
- Internet marketing
- Market analysis
- Niche marketing
- Public relations
- Content marketing
- Lead nurturing
- Data science
3) Resume Design Tips for Marketing Jobs
A professional design is critical to a successful marketing or advertising resume. Even if graphic design is not central to your area of expertise, you are expected to at least have a well-developed sense of aesthetic and an eye for good design. If you don’t have the skillset to design a high-end resume, then either hire someone who does or make use of a professionally designed resume template.
Colors can be used but should be minimalist. If you have a well-developed personal brand and online presence, make sure your resume also reflects that with careful use of specific colors, fonts, and styles. Any style decision you make should add to the overall readability of your document or you run the risk of overwhelming the reader and making it harder to find the information you want them to see.
A good balance of text and negative space will help to give your resume a finished look. Most modern resumes use vertical columns to help create this balance, with a 20-30% horizontal width column for short lines of text such as skills, contact information, and education while reserving the main column for the summary and work history sections.
Visual representations such as infographics can be helpful on a marketing resume, especially if giving presentations or crafting visually appealing ads will be central to your job responsibilities. However, this will only work if these graphics represent meaningful metrics that demonstrate your effectiveness. After all, they will be drawing the eye in and creating an impression. You don’t want the impression they create to be “Meh.”
Cover Letters for Marketing Professionals
1) Research the Role and the Company First
writing your cover letter or revamping your resume, take the time to do your research. Learn more about the company from its website, news, and press releases. Learn a little bit about the history of their ad campaigns if you can. Search the company directory to see what you can find out about the leaders in the department where you will be applying.
While this background information can certainly help you tweak your resume for fit, it is the cover letter where doing this homework (or not) can make or break you. This is your chance to show the company that you understand their brand, respect and share their values, and have a sense for their customer engagement strategies.
Look for a chance to connect with the reader of your cover letter by mentioning something you have learned by digging a little deeper. It shows that you took the time and it also demonstrates that you know how to forge a connection with your audience – a critical skill for marketing professionals.
2) Name Dropping
If you were referred to the job by someone already in the company or have worked closely with someone in the marketing department before, the cover letter is an appropriate place to mention that. Of course, you will want to make sure the person who’s name you drop is expecting that they may be contacted to speak to your qualifications, character, or work habits.
3) Tell a Clear Story
The resume is largely a list of facts presented in an easy to read format. However, the cover letter is your chance to connect the dots and really drive home a story about why you are the right candidate for the job. It should convey a clear picture that you not only have the required and preferred qualifications, but that you bring something special to the table, your unique value proposition.
Networking for a Job Search in Marketing
1) LinkedIn for Marketing Professionals
Sure, you are an expert on building social media profiles to help a small business grow their local visibility, but have you taken the time to fully develop your own online presence to market yourself while you are in the job search? If not, then it is time to invest in yourself and make the most of this powerful professional networking platform.
Unlike other social media platforms which offer excellent opportunities to sell products and services, LinkedIn is particularly well suited to clarify and promote your professional brand and increase your online presence as a professional. It also offers a chance to increase your visibility to recruiters looking for people with your skillset, engage with movers and shakers in the advertising world, and make networking contacts with other people working in your field.
After you have thoroughly filled out your profile, take special care to update your skills and work history and start joining some of the groups devoted to marketing and advertising in your areas of expertise. Block in some time each day, particularly if you are currently unemployed and in the job search, to engage with other people, read up on news in your sector, and connect with former colleagues and new people who are actively engaging on subjects you care about.
2) LinkedIn Headline
The headline will appear just under your name when you are searched on LinkedIn. It’s your tagline, and as a marketing professional, you know how important taglines are. In addition to being grabby and representative of your value to potential employers, the headline is also used by recruiters to search the site. So, it can be helpful to have your target job title and the most relevant keywords in the headline as well.
The challenge is to convey all this within the 120 character limit. For example:
Public Relations Manager | Branding and targeted advertising strategist who turns start-ups into success stories.
This headline has the target job title, a few keywords likely to be searched by recruiters, and a short and compelling narrative about the value this person has to offer.
3) LinkedIn as an Online Portfolio Tool
Want a quick way to let employers in the job search see examples of your past work? Consider using the “Professional Portfolio feature on LinkedIn to showcase some of your proudest digital ad campaigns, video presentations, or written content.
This tool allows you to add files to your work history section so that you can show future employers the value you brought to a previous employer with your creative insights or jaw dropping conversion rates. Be sure to take advantage of the description section to provide the necessary context for any media such as images or videos that you add.
4) Add Your LinkedIn Address to Your Resume Contact Information
These days, including your full physical address is overkill, and including just your email address is underkill. By adding your LinkedIn profile to your resume contact section, you are inviting potential employers to take a closer look at what you have to offer. Keep in mind that they are unlikely to do so until you make the short list (because it is time intensive).
However, a well-developed LinkedIn profile, complete with portfolio additions showcasing the best of your previous work, could be the difference between landing that interview, and getting passed over for someone who is perceived to be more current with professional trends.