Want a job in marketing? Then make sure you know how to market yourself


By Diane Young, Co-founder

May 8, 2014 | 4 min read

Why is it that marketing job applicants (including marketing graduates) don’t seem to know the first thing about marketing?

The Drum's Diane Young

I’m recruiting for marketing executives at the moment. It’s not a very senior post, but I am looking for a marketing graduate with at least one marketing role under their belt. I’ve had a lot of applicants but I’ve been dismayed that they are so terrible at marketing themselves.

Maybe I am taking a rather selfish view on this, but I am recruiting for people who will help me to do things in my business. But I had to double check my recruitment ad after a while, as I started to think I had made some terrible mistakes in my copy.

Had I advertised to pay people a salary to progress their career? To help them to learn things to gain more experience for their next role? To ensure they get a better work/life balance? To help them relocate? Err, no.

Yet almost every applicant was completely focused on what was in it for them, not what they could do for me. It’s the oldest and worst marketing mistake in the book.

It’s the equivalent of promoting your services to a potential customer by saying: “Buy this from us because it will make our company look better and we need some more sales to reach our sales target this month.”

It’s not that we are not interested in helping our staff to grow and progress. I’m very proud of the people who have built successful careers within The Drum and of those who have gone on to be stars elsewhere. One of my greatest joys in the business has been to see individuals develop in skill, experience and confidence. But that is a two way process – we help each other to move in the right direction.

So for any aspiring marketing professionals out there wanting to sell themselves to employers, I’d advise you use your application to show that you understand the marketing process:

  • Understand your target employer. Do a bit of research and show you are interested in their business.
  • Link your skills to the needs of the company as you see them. It doesn’t matter if you are not 100 per cent accurate in doing this as long as you’ve made the effort.
  • Emphasise the benefits that you think you can bring to the company.
  • Treat the recruiter as an individual – demonstrate that you can write thoughtfully, showing that you are focused on getting their attention and engaging them, not just copy/pasting from other applications (especially if you forget to change the company/job details!)
  • Describe your relevant experience but make sure you include what results you achieved.

If anyone thinks they are up to it, I’m still looking for the ideal candidates.

Diane Young is co-founder of The Drum.


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