How to Make the Most of Entry-Level Marketing Jobs

By Robert Half August 4, 2016 at 5:00pm

Eager to launch your career in marketing and rise through the ranks? Heed this advice to not just survive — but thrive — in an entry-level marketing job.

Entry-level marketing jobs may not always be the most glamorous, but they play a key role in setting your career dreams and goals in motion. Set the stage for success early on by following these tips:

1. Go beyond the call of duty

Demonstrate a strong work ethic by completing your assignments — no matter how tedious or tiring — on time and making sure they’re free of errors. Offer to assist others with their workloads or take on those tasks no one else wants to tackle. As others discover your tenacity and talent, they’ll likely hand over projects that carry greater weight and a higher thrill factor.

2. Show confidence, not cockiness

One of employers’ chief complaints about recent grads is that they often expect too much too soon; some even presume they know as much as — or even more than — seasoned employees. Understand that you will need to earn your stripes before being given greater responsibility. Doing an excellent job on every project you’re assigned while keeping upbeat is the best way to impress your manager and win your colleagues’ respect.

3. Watch and listen

Pay attention to the behaviors and accomplishments valued in the organization. Ask yourself what types of marketers seem most successful, and identify the attributes they share. Try to connect with a star performer who can serve as a mentor and provide career advice. Also, note how employees interact with each other and how various tasks are handled. Focusing your attention on how different departments communicate and collaborate will help you boost your soft skills.

4. Hop into the driver’s seat

No matter how supportive or sympathetic a supervisor you have, it’s not his or her sole mission to advance your career. It’s up to you to build your knowledge bank and acquire new skills. Volunteer for interesting projects and pursue professional development opportunities both within and outside the organization. Attend training seminars or take classes that will help you perform your current duties better or prepare you for your next level of assignments.

5. Follow the leaders

Aspire to be a marketing leader? You need to start thinking like a CMO by knowing who the key industry influencers are and which marketing-related topics are hottest. Follow marketing thought leaders on social media and consume their content voraciously. For example, if you want to learn more about SEO, a great place to start is watching Moz founder Rand Fishkin’s "Whiteboard Friday" series. If you want to dig into the latest digital marketing tools, follow Ian Cleary.

6. Request regular feedback

Even if it’s not part of the protocol, consider asking your manager for a three- and six-month performance evaluation. Identifying your next career steps and discussing strategies for improving your overall performance will prevent your career from stagnating. Take note of any constructive criticism you receive and store any positive remarks in a file for future reference — this will come in handy when you seek a promotion or apply for a new job.

7. Explore internal job opportunities

Don’t be afraid to follow a different career path than the one you initially identified. If after a while you begin to think you would be happier in another type of role, inquire about other openings in your firm or marketing department. Remember that this is the perfect time to test the waters and find where your true interests lie. Perhaps it’s social media, email automation or brand management. Use this entry-level opportunity to explore different areas of marketing, the kinds of projects you prefer, the types of people you enjoy working with and the management styles under which you thrive.

8. Remember to have some fun in your entry-level marketing job

All work and no play can lead to burnout. Make sure to leave room in your schedule to socialize and get to know the colleagues around you.

Approach your job with an open mind and enthusiastic outlook, and you’ll find yourself moving up faster than you ever thought possible. Even if the experience doesn’t pan out exactly the way you planned, you’ll at least have a clearer sense of where you want to go next.

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