Hindsight is always 20/20, but I often wonder if I had the opportunity to go back in time and advise my younger self on a career path, what would I tell him? Hair care aside, I almost always think to choose something other than marketing. In the past when I would look at my career path, I would always stress about the fact that I had too many stops along the way…some my own doing, some not. But what’s been interesting during my last marketing job hunting exercise is the realization that the journey has certainly been the norm when compared to others in the profession. When looking at most marketing folks on LinkedIn, seeing quite a bit of short term job experiences is quite common. While it certainly made me feel a bit better about my path, it still can be frustrating to be in a profession that has so much volatility.
- It gets harder. Getting older doesn’t help in the job search. The reality is the # of roles is less because in most cases there’s less higher level roles then entry level/mid-tier ones. Not to mention that the current state of marketing is trending much more digital which sometimes can lead companies to wanting to go younger.
- The marketing profession is extremely volatile. Marketing can tend to be a flavor of the month kind of thing. The best analogy I can make is like owning a car. You can be 5 years into having a car…works fine, still looks good, gets the job done…but you can’t help but think there might be a better car for you out there that looks better, performs better…is just different. I’m no stranger to being in situations where I was a top performer, but over time the company simply wanted to go in a different direction, try something different. The numbers don’t lie. Just do a casual LinkedIn search on marketing professionals and you’ll rarely see anyone in any role or company for long periods of time. As long as you go into a marketing career path with realistic expectations about frequent movement, you’ll be OK.
- You’re on your own. No matter the size or quality of your network, for the most part, this is a solo journey. Sure, someone might help make a connection here and there, and sometimes you might score based on a relationship you have, but in most cases, and certainly along most of the way, you’re on your own and you better be ready to own it. You have to be prepared, relentless, patient and have the mental fortitude to own your job hunt and realize that you make your own breaks.
- The odds are stacked against you. These days, you’re competing against hundreds of other candidates for the same roles. Even if you are incredibly qualified for something, chances are, there’s plenty of others that are as well. The days of resumes and cover letters are just not enough any more. You need to be bold, creative and somehow unique in your approach to the jobs you apply to.
- Be picky. Of all the things I’ve learned later in life, this was the hardest to come to terms with. The old adage was, the more you applied to, the more chances you’ve got at something. I actually disagree. By over-applying, you’re doing yourself a disservice in a couple ways. For one, you’re probably not putting your best foot forward because you’re spread too thin trying to apply to everything which in turn makes you an easy “no”. The second is that you’re probably applying to jobs that aren’t the best fit if you really dig in to it. By scaling back the # of jobs you apply to and really forcing yourself to only apply to ones that truly excite you, you’ll be much better off by spending more time on less, and putting yourself in a much better position for a response.
Marketing job hunting is a grind and you go through many periods of doubt and frustration, but the fact is most folks have something unique to give and you just have to get creative in how you present that. Great opportunities can be rare and they don’t always align to your life’s schedule. Treat your personal brand like you’d treat a product or service…always be marketing.