How to get your first marketing agency job
In our opinion, working within an agency is the most exciting part of marketing. It’s a fast-paced environment where we get to learn about lots of different industries and work on different projects every day. There’s the unique team culture and collaborative, new-age working spaces.
But it also requires a certain skill set and ability to change your style to meet diverse needs that may not suit every applicant.
There are also often long days and the need to learn new things on the fly. You need to be able to tailor your work to suit each client and be tough enough to see it moulded and changed by their opinions.
For those who have what it takes, working within an agency is undoubtedly the best experience you’ll have and the fastest way to learn about all aspects of this ever-changing industry.
If you think you’re ready to take on the exciting challenges of agency life, have a read of our 7 top tips for landing your first agency role.
Build your network
One of the best ways to get your foot in the door is through personal connections. While you’ll still need to demonstrate your aptitude for the position, having a network of industry contacts is a great way to get yourself through to the interview stage. To do this, talk to your lecturers or tutors and aim to attend as many industry events as possible.
Don’t worry if there is a position you really want and you don’t have any inside contacts, this doesn’t mean you won’t get the job. It just means you might want to get a bit creative with how you get seen by the agency. You can even try connecting with relevant people through LinkedIn and start following the business social media accounts to learn as much about them as you can.
Do your homework
Another really important thing to do when going for an agency job is to thoroughly research the company. In order to demonstrate how you’ll be able to meet the requirements of the role, you need to really understand what they do and the types of clients that they work with.
It’s also a good idea to look into their social media accounts to help you establish how you’ll fit in with the team culture. This isn’t just for their benefit, either. As an employee, you want to make sure you’re comfortable and happy with the company you work for.
Make yourself stand out
What makes a great designer isn’t their ability to create a pretty picture, but their ability to demonstrate strategic creative thinking behind the artwork. This is what will really help you to stand out.
For those of you looking to enter the world of marketing, show that you can do the work by successfully selling yourself. You can do this through an integrated portfolio that not only showcases your design skills but that demonstrates your ability to translate strategic thinking into creative design outcomes.
You should also try tailoring your portfolio for each agency you interview with. For example, if you’re applying for a digital agency, you might be best to show off more of your digital designs through an online portfolio. However, it’s always good to bring a hard copy along to your interview.
Create a strong digital presence
In the digital era, it’s really important to demonstrate your ability to harness web and social media as a design platform. Particularly for marketing jobs, you’ll want to establish how you can translate designs into tangible outcomes like large social followings and traffic through your website.
If you haven’t already, build yourself a dedicated website or online portfolio and direct traffic from your social accounts through to relevant pages. You can also try writing a blog about specific areas of design and particular projects that visitors may be interested in learning more about.
When you’re first starting out in the industry, no-one expects you to have all the right answers. What matters more is your eagerness and willingness to learn new things. Most agencies will favour an enthusiastic applicant over a knowledgeable one; knowledge and skills can be taught, but conscientiousness is a quality that is harder to find.
Demonstrate your ability to upskill and your eagerness to do so. Sign up for blogs, articles, websites and conferences to show your thirst for knowledge. And above all, be excited at your interview! Marketing is an exciting industry and it’s important to let your interviewer know that you’re keen to forge a path within it.
Initiative is another highly-valued quality of a graduate. No one will get mad if you’ve given something a go and didn’t quite succeed, but if you ask lots of questions without even trying it out yourself, you’re not showing your ability to digest briefs and formulate outcomes.
Taking initiative also means spending time learning the industry language. This will really help you out when it comes to your interview and later when you start the job. Yes, language might differ slightly between niche agencies, but having a core understanding of the terms and phrases used will go a long way to helping you understand what is being asked of you.
You might be thinking ‘but how do I get experience when everyone wants you to have experience?’ Trust us, we get it.
Getting a job when you haven’t worked in the industry can be a little tough at times, but there are ways to work around it. Try organising yourself an internship or unpaid work experience over the holidays. You might even do this at multiple different companies to soak up as much experience as you can.
While you’re probably eager to get into your first paid role, sometimes it takes putting yourself out there a bit to help you stand out to employers. Plus, if you do a really great job, your employer might be happy to keep you on as a paid employee down the line.