Matt Anderson, Managing Director at Hays Marketing, shares his top tips on how to stand out from the crowd.
Although the competition has intensified, opportunities still remain. It’s vital to stay positive; employers are looking to hire individuals who can demonstrate an ability to add value in a challenging environment.
In order to stand out from the crowd, start by focusing on your CV. The first thing to do when approaching this is to focus on competencies. Never lose sight of what potential employers are looking for, match their technical and personal competency requirements and you’re off to a solid start. This means studying the job description and person specification carefully.
Writing a CV is your sales pitch to the employer and your personal statement is your opener. This should sit below your personal details and should be approximately 50 words, making each sentence a key selling point. Try to capture the employer’s attention by briefly matching your experience and skills to their stated requirements.
It is crucial to keep your formatting consistent. Limit yourself to the most relevant work experience and list employers and job roles in reverse chronological order. You will need to include company name, address, job title and responsibilities and stick to this format consistently throughout.
Quantify your achievements where relevant and write in the first person - the employer is interested in your personal contribution. For example you could say something along the lines of “I delivered a direct marketing campaign which generated X visits to the website and an X% increase in sales.”
Make sure you draw attention to any successful project work that can be highlighted in a separate portfolio. Next, list all relevant skills and state all channels you have previous experience of, such as advertising, online, direct marketing and PR.
You would usually be expected to include all higher and further education, such as a degree where relevant. Once you have covered the technical requirements, it’s always a good idea to include language skills (especially for multinationals) and additional IT skills. As for referees, it is sufficient to mention that these are ‘available on request’.
It is also important to include a brief overview of the companies you have worked for, highlighting their customer base, annual turnover and industry sectors they operate in. This is particularly important if the company is not well known because the potential employer will want to see relevant experience.
Once you secure an interview prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more. Competency-based interviewing (CBI) is the most popular interview approach, based on the premise that future performance can be predicted by past behaviour – do your skills match the job criteria? If you meet the competencies laid out in the job specification, chances are you’ll be a good match for the job.
So, what’s the best way to prepare for CBIs? Re-visit the job description and person specification before your interview and ensure that you have covered off all bases, including tasks and responsibilities; ensure that you can comfortably provide an example for each competency.
It is a good idea to memorise examples and to be able to reel these off: describe the particular scenario, the actions you took and the impact on the business.
CBI questions might take the form of: “Tell me about a time when you had to deliver multiple projects within a tight deadline.” Or “Managing budgets is an important part of this role. Tell me about a time when you had to stretch a budget, what did you decide to spend the money on?”
In the current market you should make sure you consider all of your options - being flexible is key. For example, have you thought about working on an interim contract? Organisations previously looking to recruit for permanent roles are hiring interim professionals due to the flexibility it offers whilst there is still caution about the market.
An interim position can offer a marketer a broader range of experience of different projects and organisations. An interim career also affords flexibility of hours and location, allowing individuals to have greater control of their work-life balance. Think about your transferable skills and consider unpaid experience or re-training.
It is important to focus your efforts on areas that will offer opportunities in the future, for example SEO, text message marketing, email marketing, or other specific digital marketing experience are sought after. In addition, there is still a demand marketing managers, product managers and marketing executives.
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