Want a marketing job? Then you have to first understand the rules of the game.
I was recently hiring a marketing coordinator for my company and once again it became obvious to me that most candidates do a poor job at interviewing. So here’s my contribution, albeit a small one, to those of you who are looking for new jobs.
Before you go out on an interview, you need to understand how hiring works. Then you can craft a great resume, prepare to ace the interview, and come up as a top candidate for the job. Keep in mind the following factors and you’ll be a step ahead of other candidates.
Risk is the most important factor:
The whole hiring process has one goal, and that is to reduce the risk of hiring a bad candidate. Companies spend a lot of time and money when they need to hire someone and spend even more when they make a wrong hiring decision. So every step is designed to reduce the risk the company and the hiring manager face. Knowing this will give you tremendous advantage, as most people are concerned with making sure they look good (either on their resumes or during the interview) and not with what the company needs. Is basic marketing (you can only sell if you know what the customer wants), but very few people stop to think about it.
As you are asked questions during the interview, managers are not looking for a right answer, they are looking for clues that will tell them whether you are high or low risk. So you need to make sure that when you are answering questions during an interview, your answers are focused on lowering that perceived risk.
Example: for a question like “do you have experience with trade shows?” (which is not necessarily a very good question to begin with, but let’s leave it like this for now) you could answer: “yes, I have experience with trade shows and have handled many throughout my career”. The problem with this answer is that is very limited. OK, you have experience, but how much? What else have you dealt with in a trade show environment that can tell me that I will be able to trust you with my events? If you leave the hiring manager wondering whether you have all the experience he needs from someone in the position they are hiring for, then you haven’t done a good job at lowering the risk level.
A better answer is: “not only I have experience with trade shows, but I’ve been involved in multiple types of shows, from small user groups that only required a tabletop display up to big conventions where we used our 20×20 booth. In the last show [name] that I managed I had to negotiate with the show organizer, involve the transportation company, and come up with some creative ways to get our stand up on time, which gave me a much better understanding of how trade shows work”. Aha! This not only answers what was asked, but goes a step beyond and touches upon the real reason for the question in the first place, giving detailed insight as to the type of experience and situations the candidate faced, significantly lowering the risk of hiring someone inexperienced.
Every line on your resume, every answer you give during an interview, and every contact you have with the company needs to be focused on lowering the perceived risk. The little things you do will add up in the end and make you stand out.
You only need to be 2% better:
You don’t need to be a superstar. If you’re 2% better than the next candidate, you’re already ahead. How do you do that? By keeping in mind the ‘risk’ factor and tailoring all your answers to help the hiring manager lower the risk you represent. Since most candidates think about answering the question and just the question, they don’t realize that there’s more to it. The question about trade shows above, for example. What is the risk the company faces? Well, if events are a big part of their marketing budget, then they need someone they can count on to manage that side of the business. If the position you are interviewing for will have that responsibility, then you shouldn’t just answer “yes, I’ve dealt with trade shows in the past” because that really doesn’t tell me anything. Go beyond the simple question and expand your answer (but briefly, of course) to get extra points.
Results are more important than ever
The typical advice of headhunters is to make sure you add accomplishments to each job description. Now more than ever you have to ensure your resume is results-oriented, and that during the interview your answers touch upon results you achieved. Check out a recent post on Marketing Today website about it.
It’s not over when the interview is over
After the interview you’re not off the hook. Another person is now sitting on that same chair, trying to do his best, just like you did. How do you keep yourself ahead? By continuously showing that you’re the best candidate. Send written thank you notes to EVERYONE that you dealt with. From the receptionist to the hiring manager. And hand write the thank you notes, don’t email them. Why? Because most people don’t do it. You’ll be seen as more professional and will stand out. You should also be checking for industry related news and is a good idea to email the hiring manager a link to an interesting article or press release that might be relevant to the company, this shows you’re up to date on the industry and is really interested. Some of these simple gestures go a long way towards helping you land the job.