Thursday, August 30, 2007

Strathclyde Uni Students of MSc Marketing 2007 and 2008

Yet More on pratical tips on getting a job.

The Competition

The problem for you in getting a job, whether that be in scotland as a really hard case to crack, or anywhere really, is that supply outstrips supply of starter jobs in marketing many times over!

One way around this is to of course come into marketing through the back door in large or fast growing companies by working in sales, customer services, IT / web or admin support as a temp.
These are areas where they often struggle to get motivated staff.

But a frontal approach on those first rung of the ladder jobs is not an unassailable height to attempt!

The supply in scotland is pretty high- you have say 200 marketing qualified graduates, plus maybe 100 CIM diploma each year looking for jobs in marketing- within scotland. You then have the sales personnel and that's say could be 100, and then the general business graduates which could be 1000 , plus arts graduates etc meaning say another 1000 at least !

Okay, but not all are all that serious about the job hunt, and some are really not lookign too hard, or just doing a nine to five temp job. Also many will miss a herald or a web site. And more will think about it but miss the deadline. So that cuts any particular application number for a job down to about 200-300.

Of these a good half are no-hopers, and a further amount will have a standard letter or have made enough mistakes that they just look like they present themselves badly. That cuts it down to say a nice round figure of 100.

Having a really good MMO letter and a targetted CV which covers areas they are looking for in some depth will then get you into the top 30! Putting a colour photo of you on your CV, in business dress, smiling will really, really help getting y our plucked out but some Personnel departments don't like it - so ask them! (they think it is used for racist or sexist descrimination, or just the butt of jokes in the marketing department.)

Of those 100 only 10 or so will ring up to ask questions about the job before they apply. Phoning up and speaking to two people will get you into the top 10. This means they either like your proactivity and eagerness, or they just pick you out from a huge pile of CVs arranged alphabetically or in order of receipt date. Very seldom if they put "for more information contact..." will they be annoyed to hear from you! Mentioning your name of course and that you will be applying. Following up with a call to present your high motivation for the role and ask if it is possible to have an interview may or may not help. THis can be seen as a bit pushy- confirming your apllication has arrived and leaving your name and mentioning you are really interested and wanted to check your details are inf ront of the right people is usually enough. It's no hard sell, it's goign to work. "get on the blower arfur!!"

So now out of 300 you are in the top 10!! this means a 3/5 chance of interview and with any luck at all you should get interview. Was it hard?

Are you going to write down some question snext time, and be prepared to ring u, ask them and leaver your name and mention you are very interested in the job??

The Interview- Preparation

The strathclyde careers service are really good at mock interviews, so prepare as you would normally or as you have been adivsed. Think of the questions they will ask and prepare an answer which matches MMO and remember each element of MMO must come across but the emphasis is on Motivation.

Do a fair bit of background reading on the company, it's markets and the type of marketing skills / projects they are looking to manage with you in the team. Make up questions which expand upon this and relate to the role and marketing department. FOr example, where will they be marketing to? If you speak german then this could be a USP they hadn't really thought about as for now, they use an expensive translator.

Come with copies of your CV. Your CV at this stage should have a lot of nice space around the entries and you should Leave your business card and pick up theirs if offered.

Think about the job advert. How do you mathc the requirements? THink of you Motivation. What questions do you want to ask them? How does your CV tell them you can do the job and how will you expand on the CV or get them off it all to gether? write a list of their requirements agaisnt your skills and motivations.

Also think of all the practicalities and logistik. Can you really make a 9am interview in Dar Es Salaam? Don't be afraid to ask for a later slot when 1) you will have more trains etc to get there 2) you and the interviewers will be more awake. Avoid 2pm and later than 3. 9am if you are an early bird and can reach it can be good- you set a fresh example they may rememebr as 'fisrt of the day'.

It can pay to offer to take the first interview on the phone or upon getting the letter to ask if this is possible given a tight time tabel or a long way to travel. Or just ask for a preparatory chat. If you have not heard of the company or if there is any vagueness as to the position then phone- it could be a telesales job or a company with no marketing budget what-so-ever (to be avoided by all but the very brave!)

I once had an interview in Derbyshire, Atherton I think- the highest railway station in England I think. This turned out to be 14 hours on trains or stations given the delays that happend, for a 50 min interview where i was told they actually had a brand manager in mind and would like me for a sales job. With hindsight I should have asked for a telephone interview or 'introduction'. Also I went to aberdeen for a "marketing job" which was completely vague - I had some abderdeen accountant/chicken farmer give me a one hour lecture on chucnky chikcens while every five minutes the smell of shit from the slaughtery seeped into the office! SO do look a gift horse in the mouth- and never go to far flung interviews who DO NOT offer to pay travellling costs. Even Edinburgh, ask before and if you see a manager ask them for a form or just phone up personnel afterwards and ask if you can submit a form. Phone the blighters up in advance if you have to get a taxi from the station / ariprot and ask personnel if they have an account or a driver. It is really not worth paying to go to a lot of can get an anchor interview and then pay for an upgrade to full flex, visit pals and other interviewers. Or better get two interviews in london on the same day and double the difference!!! Five interviews in the central belt of scotland could put you out of pocket by as much as £150 without travelling expenses. I mean, do you really want to work for a company too mean to pay out students interview costs??

Allow yourself extra good time- you will need time to find the place and get organised. Even better, drive to the place the day before. Ask personnel or reception if there are any special transport issues the day before for that time of travel and make sure you know your train, bus or flight is running and likely to be on time. Allowing good time also means having time to eat, pee, shower and dress immaculately. - On my 14 hour day I guess I was probaby a bit sweaty and tired and my suit a bit creased. Even on a one day interview trip, it can be worth getting chagned or havuing your jacket in a suit-carrier. A spare shirt and mayeb some wet-wipes and some deoderant and a toothbrush/paste. Remember if it is a stained shirt or bad breath that makes the only difference between you and candidate X then they will get 2nd interview!

Also to read through all your application paperwork- the letters, the CV, the original advert and notes you made. Remember the list with two columsn or three, mayching their needs to your MMO and also your list of questions.

Thorhg the interview, stop yourself from giving endless streams fo consiousness and ASK them quyestions. This breaks their mind set- they may be reading a joke printed out on e-mail by now having seen 10 cnadidates. Even simple open questions can help. But really you want to find a UBP- a ubique thing they are looking to buy in. Or a weakness pressure to fill the posituion. Find that and match you MMO and USP to the job.

At the end of the interview always ask how long it will take for them to get back to you and if you can phone for feedback on the whole process and who you could speak to. Check they have all the information they need and if they owuld like any more STARS or certificates or anyhting slese to help them. Ask if you answered the questions to their likeing with "how did youfind me in interview" and remind them of your USP. Ask when the job woudl start. REMEMBER NOW to mention your Big O- opportunity to come to 2nd interveiw at short notice, and start work/relocate etc on and before thaat date. Remember to say that you are really keen ont he job having found out more on it, don't make any excuses for yourself. Thank them, shake hands with eye contact and a smile, and leave promptly. If personnel see you out, you can ask them about travelling expenses or booking a cab on account!

Landing the Job

Now it is really a case of repeating everything at 2nd and even 3rd interview. They may be finding it hard to separate between candidates. By this time they will be more interested in someone to really DO the job and START at the right time. You need to focus on your motivation for the job. You need to have a lot more questions again on the job, the company,m the customers, the team......ones that show you are truly interested int he job and not just the salary and fringe benefits. Your "O" to start will be more prominent here and you should mention it early and late in the interview.

Go back to careers advisors and polish up your MMO - work on your abilities in the emthod and match these with Motivation. Then do a lot more background reading on the company, it's markets and the type of marketing skills / projects they are looking to manage with you in the team.

Part of your moticatiojn wil be shown in background reading...but don't be too smarty pants on the company and it's markets. Better to tell them a bit and then ask questions which bring it back round to the marketing function (or sales)

You should by now have an idea that you can use one or several USPs in the interview ... don't make too much of them, just mentione them and add' if that is of interest/rlevance? Repeat what they are looking for in a person as a question, then try to answer it.

In 2nd and in third often "offer" interviews you will find yourself asking as many questions as they do and also being more relaxed. BE more relaxed.

At the end remember to state your opportunity to start ,and your keenness in the job and working hard to make a success in this career. Also ask when you will hear again and if you can get fuller feedback on the process.

I can gaurantee you pretty much that if you do a good MMO in your letter, Phone up to ask about the job and thenpreparte for interview tiht e careers service, then get a good MMO in interview, point out any USPs and reiterate your big "O" and keen-ness then you rwill be getting interviews for at least one in five relevant applications looking for graduates or those with up to a years expereinec, or those lookign for a specialist USP like language. Of those I reckon you need to have experience in two to three interviews and then about one in five interviews will lead to a job offer!

Now how to split your application effort- they have to be good so quality over quantitiy- I think the target applications for a two to three month period should be only 25 direct contacts. Of these 10 will be graduate jobs/ one year jobs at least, with a further 10 being open applications, and five being to recrutimenet consultants for actual jobs opr for fiurms who use them. It is probably good to do some spec' applications to other 2ndry targets in the industyr and follow them up when you can with a call, or if you get a name in reply acall them and start to network a bit into the marketing department.

This may mena only one or two a week, plus some spec letters plus some networking calls and meetings. Also you have your family and freinds circle- nepotism and favouritism is rank in marketing... my predecessro in the first good agncy job, got his job because his dad gave business to the company on that condition!! Maybe you are working temporary and this level of acticity is easy to manage, It means when the mobile goes you can seem really focused becuae you rmemebr the company and have the paperwork to hand.

Temp jobsin big companies can take you places- it is at least a 'brand name' on the CV- or if it is a specialist branch you want to getr into then temping in the industry can be worth it's wieght in gold. You should underplay the 'getting a foot int he door' and just say you want to temp while you wait to graduate or whatever, and want to earn some money and get some proven, practical expereinece. They can be a bit wary about people coming into say customer setrvices or sales and buggering off to marketing from temp roles designed to get people in the door for longer careers in the former! So play it by ear- listne to what they have to say and don't offer any real ambition other than gaining experienc ein this inditry secotr or type of compnay. If they are positive to this, they will probably offer up that they like to recruit internatlly to marketing.

There are a lot of 'peri-marketing' or 'pseudo-marketing' jobs now- business analysis, IT and web to name but a few, and also all the rather dull business services markeitng buys- conferences, freebies, direct mail and fullfillment, list building/buying, print material, direct mail cheapo shots, as well as the glamerous ad agenies. Temping in these areas, or traeting a graduate trainnee job as temping can be really key in getting a stronger foothold in an interesting company or industry sector.

One bit of advice is to go for the unglamerous! go for the mail fullfillment! the stuffing good bags ! go for the building analytical reports or making new web security pages. Or get some specialist training in your first degree to pop out into a mroe techcnically related marketing job, as in say computing, logistiks, biotechnology...this expertise learnt in say a year can be directly transfered into a marketing joba dn is often more important than the marketing experience per se. For example a technical writer for pack inserts and customer information or user manuals. This can be a very good way into marketing where you will be very popular for doing something no -one wants to be pedantic about!! Remeber, every industry has marketing or at least sales and gaining a competance in something specialist gives you a huge USP, despite lack of actual marketing experience.

Once you are in a temp job or a placement, then you can really start to 'work' the recruitment agencies and try to get around them when you can. They won't be very helpful to you, but at least you will get some good leads on marketing deparmtents who are expanding. They may be able to sell you in as a temp or a more junior position than the managerment ones advertised and make a qwuick couple of grand based on six months time to fee on your head now.

As an umeployed graduat the recrutiment arses won't touch you. But remember you are an active job seeker! Placements and temp jobs can be equally good.

Post Interview

Call up for feedback- this is why it is good to get a business card from the marketing manager/diretor who interviewed you..and dropping one on the table solicitis this!

Somethin I still do today which is a mistake is that i just go and cry boo-hoo, I'll never get a bloody job, and DON't vall up for reasons if I get a rejection. Calling up can be enopugh to tip the scales ...but if they are gruff then just put it down to pressure for time. Maybe speak to personnel now ( who are chocolate kettles often when it comes to feedback on marketing jobs- you get vague crap- but sometimes they will point out errror or over-exaggerationsi nyour CV and itnerveiw techniqeu and point out where you answereed weakly or did not expand renough on)

also if you call and they have an awkward sod under offer, pissing them about a bit on start date or salary, it may be just enough to come back from a knock back letter. In Norway the bastards wait until the person is often IN the job i.e. around 8 to 12 weeks to finally reject you!

Now on getting a job, great, just really make sure this is not a con. I mean moving to LOndon without relocation expenses, or working 50 hour weeks for 12k. A bird in the hand, job wise, is worth 20 interviews but if you do have another series of interviews ( i.e first followed up by 2nd) in the bag, then it may be worth holding off a week to get these in, find out the starting slalary there and then negotiate!

So aoverall , it doesn't look so bad. The MMO, the USP and the phone call are your key tools. I once advertised a graduate job for a marketing analyst to work for me- it was in the herald in a 1/8th size on page 3 of the Jobs pages and I put I think my name as contact with switchboard number. It woudl be 23k now. DO you want to know how many people called me up? none!!

get on the phone!

good luck

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