So you’ve got your new diploma/degree, and is raving for a high-paying, high-flying job in marketing, advertising, or public relations. What’s next?
I suspect there is a glut of marketing or communication-related credentials these days. Almost every other person seems to have a marketing or communication degree (or diploma), and is looking for a related job.
The trouble is, the field of marketing and communication is getting more complex, more demanding, and is also… shrinking. Coupled with an increasingly large pool of fresh graduates in the same fields, with fresh graduates from other unrelated fields contesting for the same few jobs, and you have a problem. Plus, some fresh graduates are unwilling to work for smaller firms, unwilling to accept pay that is commensurate with their lack of experience or field knowledge, unwilling to even consider jobs that tag performance indicators to their tenure.
I have hit the hard floor seeking jobs in my earlier jobs, and I can assure you, it was not pretty. I learned many hard lessons, and I sure hope you don’t make as many mistakes as I did in my youth.
In the battlefield of jobs, if you are a fresh graduate in marketing, advertising, public relations or some related field, and you intend to work in the same fields, what can you do?
1) Cast wide
If you are seeking a job for the first time, my suggestion is to cast your net wide. It is alright to experiment when you are just starting out, and don’t be too quick to judge, or too quick to imagine you are meant for one career only.
When you are seeking a job at a particular company or industry, be prepared to see if your potential employer is willing to allow you to learn the robes at various departments. For example, if you are applying to a restaurant chain as a PR executive, you can ask your potential employer to allow you to apprentice for short stints in the kitchen, in the front desk serving customers, in logistics, and then in communications. You cannot develop marketing or communication campaigns in a vacuum, and learning about every facet of a business can help you carve better and more effective campaigns. And remember, no job is beneath you because your career journey is long.
2) Run fast
If you receive a call from a prospective employer, commit to an interview quickly. Nothing beats speed in a job hunt. If a few competing candidates rush to fix up interviews while you are slipshod about the dates, you will lose out. Commit to an interview asap, and show your enthusiasm.
The media, marketing and communication fields are no longer static and slow-moving, but dynamic, real-time, and brutal. If you cannot keep up with the pace of change and speed, you are not getting in these fields, or you are not staying – not for long anyway.
You have to move fast, think fast, learn (on your own) fast, and react fast – all with a broad smile. The communication and marketing fields are social and people industries, and your ability to keep calm, keep smiling, keep professional, and keep your head up, will determine if you can land a job and keep it.
3) Dig deep
When you are applying for jobs, research the companies well. It just shows how nonchalant you are if you go in an interview with little or no knowledge about the prospective employer. You are unlikely to get such a job if the other candidates know about the company, its operations, ambitions, and needs.
The media, marketing and communication fields are not silos, but are interconnected and dependent on the core industries they stand on. For example, if you are working as a public relations executive in a petrochemical plant, knowing merely the field of PR is not enough. You have to know your industry of petrochemicals. In fact, it may sometimes even be preferable that you have a related engineering background and then a post-graduate credential in communication. This is the kind of reality you have to grapple with.
In a keenly contested job arena, the person with the most relevant credentials and experience may just edge you out if you lack one or the other. So even if you get a relevant credential, remember to keep learning. What I have learned in marketing decades ago are totally irrelevant today. Keep learning, and not just scratch the surface. Learn like an engineer or a scientist.
4) Stay humble
There is nothing worse than being a “diva” or imagining you are the gift from the heavens to a company. If you have talents, be self-assured, and use these gifts to the fullest, but keep your head level, and be respectful to all. There is nothing more unsettling than a young career upstart imagining that everyone else is beneath him, and only scratching up to those who can propel his career.
Everyone can be your ally, from the office cleaner, the receptionist, the security guard, to the executives. Imagine if you ill-treat or roughshod the non-executives, and how these people will utter the most vile comments about you behind your back, and the executives who “matter” will invariably hear of them, and will have second doubts about keeping or promoting you when the time comes. Everyone is an equal in creation, and deserving of respect. Even if you climb the corporate ladder and become successful, remember those who kept their humility and respected others, and how they remained successful for a long time. Make as many friends or allies as you can, because your personal brand depends on word-of-mouth advertising. Everything that goes around, will come around. Don’t let a moment of arrogance bite you at the most crucial or most hurting moment. Plus, you may be good (or think you are), but there will be many who will be better.
So, getting the first job (or subsequent ones), may always be challenging for many. The thing to always remember is that you have to do your homework, be alert, keep learning, and always be respectful and humble.
Dr Seamus Phan is the Head of Content and CTO at McGallen & Bolden. He is an expert in branding, marketing, communication, leadership training, crisis management, and entrepreneurship. This article may appear concurrently on his blog. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2018 Seamus Phan et al. All rights reserved.