Getting Your First Content Marketing Job: Advice for New Grads [Content Marketing Podcast 231]
Congratulations, Class of 2017! As my graduation gift to you, today I’m sharing my top 10 tips on scoring your first content marketing job (great for not-so-new grads, too).
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Welcome to Episode 231 of the Content Marketing Podcast!
If you joined us for last week’s podcast, you’ll recall we shared some eye-opening statistics from Edison Research that may make you want to give podcasting a fresh look. (Need to get caught up?)
Today we have a special gift for all my recent college grads: some real-world advice as you begin the quest for your first content marketing job.
Give today’s episode a listen to hear:
- How to grab your copy of our complimentary audio “5 Things You Must Know About Content Marketing“
- Our latest News Feed segment:
- Facebook testing new live audio feature with select media partners
- Facebook adds closed captions to Live broadcasts (get the guide here)
- Content Hit of the Week: “How to Tighten Up Your Content Marketing Strategy During a Slow Summer,” by John Hall on the Forbes website
- Why you shouldn’t be thinking about your quest as a job search … and how you should be thinking about it
- How focusing on your strengths can make you stand out
- How to wield LinkedIn like a career ninja
- How to power up your quest with informational interviews
- Tip of the Week: One tidbit from Food Network Star that can add depth and richness to your content writing
Please remember that this podcast is about you — your questions, your frustrations, your hopes and dreams for your content marketing program. So please take a moment to send me your feedback, questions, or comments via email, on our Facebook Page, or via Twitter.
Today’s Podcast Transcript
Content Marketing Podcast 231: Getting Your First Content Marketing Job: Advice for New Grads
June 8, 2017
This is the Content Marketing Podcast, episode number 231: Getting Your First Content Marketing Job: Advice for New Grads.
Hello, and welcome to the Content Marketing Podcast. This is the show where we help you grow your tribe and your bottom line through insanely good content. I am your host, Rachel Parker of Resonance Content Marketing, and today is June 15, 2017.
Hello, hello, or as we say in Texas, “howdy,” and thank you for joining us for today’s episode of the Content Marketing Podcast. Just a reminder: This podcast is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Google Play Music, so if you like what you hear, please click on over and subscribe.
I also invite you to download our complimentary audio resource, “5 Things You Must Know About Content Marketing”. Download today to learn the 5 things you absolutely must know to reap the benefits of a solid content marketing program. To snag your free copy, go to contentmarketinggift.com.
Last week we talked about a new study by Edison Research that may make you want to give podcasting for your brand some serious consideration. If you happened to miss that episode, feel free to check it out on iTunes or via the RSS feed.
If you’re a recent graduate looking for your first content marketing job, today’s podcast is just for you, we’ve got some real-world advice for landing that all-important first gig out of school.
But first, it’s time to check in with our News Feed for this week’s rundown of news you can use.
News you can Use:
Not one but two stories out of big papa Facebook to kick off this week’s news feed.
According to the news site Android Police, Facebook is building on the huge success of its Live Video feature with a new offering and that is: ‘Live Audio’. The premise is the same: users will be able to broadcast their voices to any Facebook user who happens to be tuning in. Facebook is currently testing the feature with media partners BBC World Service, LBC, and Harper Collins, and as far as a wide roll out is concerned we’re probably looking at next year, so early 2018. That will be available to more users if not all users.
I think this is especially interesting, especially in light of the research that we talked about last week on the popularity of Podcasting. Could it be that “audio is the new video?” we’ll see.
The next story out of Facebook is that: In an effort to make Facebook Live more accessible to everyone, including the deaf community, Facebook has begun allowing publishers to include closed captions in their Live Videos.
There is a setting in your Facebook, on your setting screen and if your captioning setting is turned on, you’ll be able to automatically see closed captions for live videos when they’re available. Now if you’re interested in enabling closed captions for your own live broadcasts — there’s a bit of a technical process to it and Facebook has published a helpful guide, I will provide the link in the blog post for this episode at resonancecontent.com/podcast. And you can access that PDF and get closed captions setup for your own live broadcast. Good development out of Facebook, good job guys. (https://fbookmedia.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/facebook-live-closed-captions-how-to-guide4.pdf)
Content Hit of the Week:
Our Content Hit of the Week is called “How to Tighten Up Your Content Marketing Strategy, During a Slow Summer,” this is by John Hall on the Forbes website.
We are, of course, entering the summer months, which here in South East Texas, we know better than many places the temperature, the thermometer is climbing up, up and up. For many of us that means a slower time of the year. Now I know if you’re in the travel or hospitality industry, you’re saying Parker what are you talking about we are crazy, crazy busy.
But for a lot of industries this is a slower time of year, right! People are taking vacations, in terms of content, content consumption tends to go down, people aren’t downloading as many resources, so it’s a slower time of year, and in this article, John talks about how we can make good use of this time to give our content marketing strategies a bit of a tune up, because we’re almost halfway through the year, we’ve got some good data behind us, so we can look back and say okay what needs to be tweaked, what do we need to do more, what do we need to do less of, and then we will be in a much better position for when things ramp back up in the fall.
It’s an Excellent read, and I will of course include a link in the blog post for this episode at resonancecontent.com/podcast. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2017/06/11/how-to-tighten-up-your-content-marketing-strategy-during-a-slow-summer/)
That’s it for this week’s update — if you stumble across something you think might be of interest to your fellow content marketers, please tweet it to me at so that we can share.
Now it’s time for this week’s spotlight segment: Getting Your First Content Marketing Job: Advice for New Grads
[Graduation Song] Congratulations! Class of 2017 you made it. You made it through the classes, through the exams, through the all night study sessions, the group projects, you made it through all of that, got your degree, in your hot little hands and now you’re ready to seek out that all important first job in Content Marketing.
As my graduation gift to you, I’m going to share some strategies, I have learned on both sides of the hiring process, to help you land that first gig, and by the way this isn’t just for new grads. If you are making a career shift to Content Marketing from say Journalism, or Advertising or another discipline you will definitely find these tips helpful as well.
So as I mentioned I have experience on both sides of the hiring process. I have been a candidate at many points in my career, and then when I worked for a large agency, and, then when I worked at corporate I had the experience of being on the hiring side, and during that experience on both sides I learnt quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t, and today I’m excited to share with you my Top Ten Tips. Yes I came up with 10 of them, Top Ten Tips for landing that first job.
When I mention this to folks that seek my advice, it’s like a light bulb goes off and that is: Don’t think of it as a job search – think of it as a marketing campaign, with you as the product. And sometimes when I mention that to fresh new marketers it’s like Mind Blown Pushhhhhh , but it’s true, you are the product, and you are a marketer, so ” Marketer, market thyself!” use those marketing skills that you have been learning over the course of your education to market yourself, and I see so many marketers who are not doing that.
They are out on LinkedIn and their description is boring, and their experience is boring, and it’s not engaging, it’s like they just kind of mailed it in, but you know you’re a marketer, so be a marketer as you go out and seek this first job, and that comes to your approach as well.
Sometimes I talk to folks who are in your situation seeking their first job and I say – well what are you doing, how are you landing that job, and they say – well I’m on LinkedIn checking the job boards every day, seeing what’s out there and you know that would be the equivalent of a marketing team saying – well we’re just going to look for people who we know are looking for our product, and we’re just going focus on that and if there is nothing out there, if there’s no demand today then we’ll try again tomorrow.
No they have a target audience, they know it works with that target audience, they know what problems their product is solving and they go out after those folks and as marketers who are marketing ourselves as solutions to a problem which is all the hiring process is right! These companies have a need, they have problems that they need solved and you are the solution, so as you look at your job search think about it as a marketing campaign with you as the fantastic, sensational, wonderful product that no one should be without.
Focus on your strengths – one thing that drives me absolutely batty is when I hear someone is looking for a job in marketing and I say well what o you do? And they say “I can do anything I can do write, I can do graphic design, I can do SEO, I can do PPC campaigns, I can do strategy, I can do Social Media, I can do anything.”
There are 2 problems with that approach (1) you’re implying that you don’t do any one thing particularly well, that you’re kind of a Jack of all trades master of none, not a great position to be coming from , and (2) it sounds a little bit desperate when you put your capabilities in that frame you sound a little bit desperate – kind of like the guy who’s so desperate for a date that he’s willing to be anything, so he sits down with someone he met online and says, I can be whatever you want, I can be outdoorsy, I can be romantic, I can be stoic, I can be into sports, I can be into chick flicks, and it comes across as really, really desperate.
So what I advise you to do; by the want to share with you where I see the job market in terms of Content Marketing because on one end of the spectrum you have really, really laser focused specialists and on the other side you have hugely broad based generalist, the folks who say ” yes, I can do anything” and where I’m seeing the focus, where I’m seeing the need is generally in the middle, but focused more towards the specialists. The way I see it is, people are looking for flexible specialists, so they don’t want to only see a Jack of all trades, but they want a writer who is capable of going on Canva and creating a quick graphic for Social media, or they want an SEO person who can write a decent blog post now and then. That’s where I see the need, so as you position yourself, think about your greatest strengths, or to put it in other words, what would you want to send 80% of your time doing in this job that you have envisioned for yourself? Because if you market yourself as being able to do anything, and someone hires you, and your passion is SEO, but they have got you writing blog posts 80% of the time, that’s not going to work, you’re not going to be happy, you’re probably not going to do a great job because that’s not where your greatest strength lies and that job might not last very long, because it’s obviously not a good fit.
So as you position yourself – focus on your strengths and if it comes up in conversation, mention those other capabilities. So position yourself as just a kick ass content writer, you know I’m a writer, I can write blog posts, I can write white papers, blah, blah, blah, but I can also use Canva to create simple graphic design, but I also know how SEO works, but I also can write for PPC campaigns and that way you’re positioning yourself as that flexible specialist that is very much in demand in the marketing world. So that is tip no. 2 – Focus on your strength.
Get the word out – This sounds really basic, it just sounds, you know let people know you’re looking, but I’m surprised by how many people skip this step. Either out on job boards, they’re doing what they need to do, but their friends and family, colleagues and acquaintances don’t know that they’re looking so get the word out, and whatever you need to do, you know call people, and yes phones do still work for calling, don’t forget that, call people, email them, message them on LinkedIn say ” hey I’ve recently graduated or I’m in transition, and I’m looking for a fantastic job in Content Marketing, here’s what I’m looking for, here’s what I bring to the table, please keep me in mind if you hear of anything.” and that is so simple to do, but so many people don’t do it.
So look at your contact list, look at family, look at friends, look at people in your church, people in your community, second and third degrees of separation someone who might know someone whom you know, and get that word out make sure everyone in your extended circles knows a) that you’re looking for your next career adventure and b) what you’re looking for and c) what you specifically bring to the table, and you might be surprised by what comes up.
LinkedIn is your friend – LinkedIn is not just your friend, LinkedIn is your best friend, so I want you to buy it flowers, I want you to take it for lunch, I want you to take it for long walks on the beach, get to know LinkedIn very well, and make it a part of your life and not just for the job postings. Sometimes job seekers will go to LinkedIn look at the job boards and if there is nothing there, then they log out and then they’re done for the day. But actively grow your network, look online, look on LinkedIn and find companies that you would love to work for and see if you can connect with people in those marketing departments, because that way you are getting yourself in front of those people. You’re part of their community, you’re seeing their posts, and they’re seeing your posts and just get on each other’s radar, because that’s going to enable you to follow-up with those folks which we’re going to talk about in just a minute.
Once LinkedIn is your best friend I’ve got two pieces of advice specific to LinkedIn. Network on LinkedIn daily – that means post content, whether you are posting an infographic from HubSpot, or a great article on marketing profs, or the review of a great book that you just finished. Post new content and then you want to go around and look at what other people are posting, you want to be liking their posts, commenting on their posts, maybe sharing their posts. If someone shares something that really is in your realm or something that interests you, go ahead and share it, so network on LinkedIn and make that a daily practice.
Publish on LinkedIn – remember now we have LinkedIn publisher which lets us create longer form content, more in-depth and share it with our community, and this is going to position you as an expert. So whatever your area is within content marketing, whether it’s SEO, whether it’s Content Writing, whether it’s design, whether it’s creating websites or landing pages, publish on LinkedIn and show people your expertise even if it’s just the top five articles that you came across this week. Put the link to the article and put a little commentary about why it’s interesting to you, and how it taps into the needs of marketers today, and that’s really going to grow your thought leadership, and when people find you on LinkedIn they’re going to see those publications and say wow! Jeff really knows what he’s talking about, or Sharon really knows what she’s talking about. I want to talk to this person about coming onto my team, so don’t forget about that LinkedIn publishing feature and I would aim to publish once a week. If you have time to put that content together and publish on LinkedIn absolutely do it, because that is going to be part of your best P.R assets, when you think about what you’re doing on LinkedIn.
Master the art of in-person networking – and yes I just saw you cringe, I just saw you cringe when I said that. Don’t think you’re hiding because I saw you. In- person networking, I know it’s a challenge I keep reading about how millennials and now Gen Z who grew up online, they haven’t mastered those in- person relationships, and they get frustrated, and they’re challenged by this whole in- person networking thing – I get it – I totally get it. I’m a dyed in the wool introvert myself, sometimes people hearing my podcast, they’re surprised to hear that, but it’s true.
I would rather get a root canal than walk into a room full of strangers, and have to introduce myself and start relationships – BUT I will tell you right here, right now, in – person networking is a skill that will serve you well for the rest of your career. It will serve you getting your first job, it will serve you getting your 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th job if you start a company, if you start freelancing, it will serve you well there, it’s a perfect tool to have in your tool box, because I don’t care what we’re doing on line or how fantastic online networking becomes there is no substitute for a handshake, for an in – person smile, how are you? A little small talk
There is just no substitute for that, and I think it’s ingrained in our DNA to respond more positively and more actively to those in person conversations, remember we came from cavemen, and cave women and in – person interaction was all that they had, so pursue those in person networking opportunities Check out and our local chapters of AMA, BMA, IABC , also you might want to check Meetup for interesting groups in your area –and then as you get out there I promise you it will get easier I promise you that, the first few times you get out there it’s going to be like pulling teeth, and you’re probably not going to be very good at it and that’s fine it’s a learning experience. Michael Jordan wasn’t very good the first time he stepped out on a Basketball court, and you will probably not be a phenomenon when you start in person network, but it will get better and you will get more comfortable and then as you meet people at these in- person events, you should follow up with LinkedIn connection. If someone I in the circles that you want to start moving in, make sure that you follow up and connect with that person on LinkedIn, because that makes your connection sticky, that puts you on each other’s radars and that makes it much more likely that you’re going to build an active network, that’s going to help you land that all important first job.
Have some business cards made – you can go on Vistaprint or any number of online resources, and you can get business cards made really cheaply, and just make it very, very simple not a lot of graphics, not a lot of colors, not 15 different colors and a whole circus going on just have a very simple business card made with – your name, your title that you want, whether it’s content writer, content creation specialist, SEO specialist, content marketing specialist or whatever you want to be known for, and then of course your contact information. So when you go to some of these in – person networking events you will have something to share with people, and they will have something to take away, to remember you by, and it really shows a level of professionalism and it shows that you’re serious about getting that all important job.
So go ahead spend a little money go to Vistaprint or go to your local FedEx, Kinkos they can do business cards or you as well, get maybe 100- 200 business cards made and use them, give them out at these events and show people that you are a professional and that you are serious, about pursuing that career opportunity.
Make informational interviewing a part of your strategy – so sometimes I would get requests from people and I love getting these requests it goes something like this- “Hi Rachel we are connected on LinkedIn or we may have never met in person, but we have a mutual connection, I am looking for my first job in Content Marketing, and I’m doing some research. May I have 15 minutes of your time on the phone just to talk about your experience and how you got to where you are today? What you’ve learned from jobs you’ve had? I would love to learn from your experience.” And I’m very excited whenever I receive those requests, and I’m very happy to give that person my time.
Think about doing that as you connect with people on LinkedIn with people who are working in companies that you want to work at. Talk to them about setting up an informational interview, and phrase it just like I did, it doesn’t need to be a long drawn out email – say how you’re connected with this person, ask for 15 minutes of their time on the phone, and think about it, you’re inviting them to talk about themselves, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves. Now as you do that be very strategic about your call to action and I’ll tell you why – a couple of months ago I got a request like this from a young lady who was looking for a job in Content Marketing, she phrased her communication just like I said, but she ended it with this call to action ” Please call me at your earliest convenience at 713-blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” that killed it. That just killed it right there, why? Because you are asking me to work, you are asking me to pick up the phone dial a number and call you so that I can help YOU, now yes I would be talking about myself, but I wouldn’t be wrong about this young lady not getting too many takers. The correct call to action is this- “May I ask for 15 minutes of your time on the phone to talk about; to share your experience with me, please let me know a date and time when you might be available and the best number for me to call you? And you might want to say that for the next round. Like if you ask for 15 minutes of their time and they say “Yes that’s fine”, your next communication will be” Fantastic what’s a good date and time for you and what’s a good number for me to call you?” That way the onus is on you, you are doing all the work and this person, all they have to do is answer the phone and give you 15 minutes.
After you get that informational interview there are two things that you need to keep in mind, end the interview with 2 questions (1) Who else should I be talking to? Who do you know who would be helpful for me to chat with?(2) Ask them, don’t tell them, ask them may I send you a copy of my resume just in case something comes up at your company that fits my capabilities? and more often than not, they will say yes absolutely, then what happens to that resume is anybody’s guess, but at least they have it, and if a position does come up, and they happen to recall your conversation, and if that resume is somewhere on their hard drive then that automatically gives you a leg upon any other competition.
Informational interviewing is a great way to get in front of people in a non pushy, non hey, you’re hiring, you hiring, you want to hire me? In a non pushy way, you get people to talk about themselves, you learn more, I mean it is a learning experience, you will learn a lot, and it will get you on those folks radars, so make that a part of that strategy, and make sure that you are requesting those informational interviews on a regular basis. Always approach it with professionalism and respect and you may be surprised at the results.
Follow up, follow up, follow up – I’ve been on the hiring side, as I mentioned and I’ve had the experience of ” I get through the resume review, I interview a bunch of people and then all of a sudden I get completely side tracked, on another project and I’m not able to even think about these interviews that I have just conducted. So following up is not a dirty word, it’s not pestering people it’s not bothering them, it’s following up, and my secret weapon for following up is the hand-written note card. Hand written note cards are like Gold because no one is doing them, no one is sending handwritten note cards, what are you kidding me, I mean, think about the last time you saw a hand written card in your mail. It’s like Oh My Gosh! Someone actually picked up a pen and write out a card to me, put a stamp on it and put it in the mail. What are you kidding me? So after you do these informational interviews, send the person a handwritten note card if possible. You know some companies are purely virtual they don’t have a physical location, in that case an email works fine, just to say thank You. But even after you do job interviews for positions follow up with a hand written note card and don’t be afraid to follow up with the person if you don’t hear back from them. Like I said I’ve been in the situation where you get into a process, get side tracked , and I was actually happy to hear from those people because again that shows a certain professionalism. So I think once every couple of weeks is not too often if you do it with courtesy, and respect. If you want to send that person an email saying I know how busy you are, I just wanted to follow up, see if you have any more questions for me, see if there is anything further that I can provide you with in terms of the hiring process. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. But make sure you follow up with those people, and you never know those final decisions, they are not always completely logical.
I hate to say that but it’s not feeding everyone into a calculator and then coming out with the best candidate, and your follow up is something that goes on to – as they say goes onto your record, something that people remember about you it shows professionalism, it shows serious intent and it’s going to do well as long as you do it with courtesy and respect, and of course don’t hound people. I think every two or three weeks is a good cadence to keep up with. Then if you’ve followed up with them 5- 6 times or even 3-4 times and you don’t get a response, then it’s fine to say okay I’m guessing they have gone in another direction and focus on something else.
So, those are my top 10 tips for recent grads (or not-so-recent grads) on the quest for your first content marketing job. If you have any questions or want to add to the conversation, or if you have any wonderful job hunting tips that you want to share, feel free to tweet me at @rachparker. Now it’s time for our Content Marketing Tip of the Week
Find out why Joe Pulizzi calls The Content Marketing Coach “a simple yet effective guide to an approach that most businesses get flat out wrong.” Download your free chapter today.
Tip of the Week
For today’s tip I have a writing advice from my fellow content creators, and this tip came about when I was watching the latest season of Food Network Star, on the Food Network. If you’ve never seen this it’s a reality show where these contestants go through a process and they’re trying to determine who is going to be the next Food Network personality, and one of the things that they do, is they teach contestants how to talk about their food while they’re on camera — it’s a challenge of course because the audience can’t smell anything they can’t taste anything certainly through the screen. So it is really up to the person in front of the camera to be able to describe the food well, and to make the people on the other side of the screen really want it and really want to create it. And one specific thing they teach them to do is stay away from words like “delicious” or “yummy” – because they’re not descriptive, those words, a word like delicious says, all it says is this food is pleasing to me, and that’s not something that anyone can latch onto.
It’s like saying okay you like it but why do you like it? And why would I like it? So they teach them to say okay why is it delicious? Is it savory, is it creamy, is it tangy, is it gooey, is it sweet? Give some real description that connects with the person on the other side of the screen, and makes them want what you are preparing.
This week I challenge you to think about that in your content creation. Whether you’re writing blog posts of podcast scripts or video scripts, because when we use generic adjectives like “excellent” or “fantastic” or God forbid, the most overused word in the universe “amazing” you’re not telling people much. You’re just saying that this is something I perceive to be of high quality. Tell them why it’s excellent; tell them why it’s fantastic. Take them with you on the journey that led you to the conclusion that what you’re talking about is excellent or fantastic.
By making this little adjustment, you offer your audience a deeper, richer experience. As a result, you’ll find they’re far more likely to engage with your content and more importantly that they will keep coming back for more.
OK, campers, that’s it for me today — I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Content Marketing Podcast. If you like what you’ve heard today, please feel free to subscribe on iTunes or Sticher or Google Play Music or via our RSS feed. And if you REALLY like what you’ve heard, please leave us a quick review on iTunes. I would so appreciate it.
Also, if you want to learn more about content marketing, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of my book, The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and Win, which is available in book and Kindle format on Amazon. To learn more about the book and to download a free chapter, and to hear what thought leaders like Joe Pulizzi thought about it, spoiler alert, they really liked it, visit contentmarketingcoachbook.com.
As you know, I always like to leave you with a quote, and today’s quote comes from Steve Kerr, the coach of the newly crowned NBA champion team, the Golden State Warriors. Steve Kerr once said, “The future is coming so fast, we can’t possibly predict it; we can only learn to respond quickly.” Good advice from the coach of the new NBA champions. Congratulations! To the Golden State Warriors.
Again, this is Rachel Parker with Resonance Content Marketing. Thank you again for listening and we will see you again next week. Take care!
Remember to snag your copy of The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN! — now available on Amazon!
- Find out how to connect and convert with content marketing.
- Learn to cut through the clutter with intelligent content that resonates with your specific target audience.
- Get the secrets for turning followers into customers … and customers into evangelists.
About the Author
A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).
As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and author of the book The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN!
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