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Writing a marketing resume isn’t easy. If you consider yourself a writer by trade, that sentiment might feel ironic. But, it’s true. Summarizing your history and skills in one page is tough, especially when your future career prospects hang in the balance.
No pressure or anything, though.
Fortunately, it’s a skill you can develop.
This post is geared toward the following folks:
Get ready to learn more about resuming writing than you might have thought you need to know.
When I was in college, I was worried I wouldn’t find an internship, nor a full-time job following that. The economy was down and prospects were slim, so getting a foot in the door didn’t look particularly easy. I had also never written a resume before, and given the circumstances, I knew mine needed to be good.
Fortunately, I did have some relevant experience built up from working at the student newspaper, tutoring, and various freelance gigs. After doing extensive research online, I did my best to put one together would convince a hiring manager I deserved an opportunity.
In order to make sure my efforts were up to par, I made an appointment at the university career center for a resume review. I thought they’d tear it apart, tell me everything that needed fixing, and send me on my way, ready to spend more time polishing it up.
Instead, something else happened.
After reading through my cover letter and resume, the student advisor looked up and said, “This looks really good. In fact, we’re going to use this as an example for other students to follow. Nice work!”
That wasn’t the response I expected, but I was glad to take it.
This is a 100% true story, and I’m not sharing it to boast, either. Instead, I’m sharing this experience to show that getting the job you want in this industry is an attainable goal. And it all starts with your resume.
Since then, I’ve used roughly the same template for every job I’ve applied for. It’s gotten me several internships, and all three of my full-time jobs in the industry (in ecommerce, at a mid-sized agency, and now at CoSchedule). There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’s clean, clear, and it works.
I’ve also adjusted it slightly to better fit different needs and experience levels. Here’s everything the bundle includes (each one is included in both Microsoft Word and iWork Pages formats):
Download the whole bundle now. It’ll help you save time on formatting, so all you need to do is fill it in.
In a word, yes. While LinkedIn is a vital tool for demonstrating your skills and expertise, hiring managers still typically want to see a resume. It’s a big part of making a good first impression, so it’s important to get yours right.
Hiring managers often have too many to look at. Most of the time, it really is that simple. According to Time, that’s why the average resume only gets looked at for six seconds.
In order to stand out, you have to make yours look exceptional.
There is nothing worse than sinking hours into the perfect job application, only to have your efforts undone by unforced errors, like typos (this is especially important for marketers and writing-based roles).
From not catching spelling errors to failing to tailor your resume to the role you’re applying for, Thomas Frank does an excellent job of summarizing what not to do in this video:
It’s easier to replicate success when you have an example to follow.
This template is closely based on one I created myself in college, and have used for the past decade. It’s clean and simple, but it has worked well in my experience:
Later, toward the end of this post, you’ll also see examples from around the web, tailored toward specific marketing disciplines. Depending on the type of role you’re applying for, the format might need to change slightly, or highlight different types of skills.
Before you start writing, it’s a good idea to prepare all the information you’ll need. You’ll need to round up previous work-related experience, contact references, summarize your strengths, and more.
Every resume you send should be tailored toward the job you’re applying for. Generally, it’s a good idea to create one generic resume that you can adjust depending on the company or role you’re targeting.
This doesn’t have to be rocket science. Start with these tips:
Know what sets you apart as a candidate. Everyone is unique and possesses individual talents. Understanding them can help guide your career by emphasizing what you’re best at.
If you haven’t before, it’s worth taking the StrengthsFinder self-assessment test. It’s a book that comes with a code you can use to login to a web-based survey that will help you better understand your strong points.
This short video summarizes how it works:
The marketing teams at CoSchedule recently took this test. Here’s what I learned:
Having strengths in things like learning, ideation, and strategy are extremely useful for creating educational marketing content. Makes sense, right? I just wish I would have taken it sooner.
If you’re new in your career, this may be a challenge if you don’t have much experience to lean on.
When you submit a resume, include references on a separate sheet. Include the following information for each person:
Make sure you have permission to list each person on your application, so they aren’t surprised to get a phone call about you. Using people as references without permission is a major faux pas.
This step matters most if you’re applying for a job in another state or city, and will need to relocate. There are varying schools of thought on this, but this post will argue it’s best to be honest. Consider the following:
So, what should this thing look like? It’s an important question, and there are a handful of minor tweaks you can implement to improve formatting.
There are two types of fonts to pay attention to here: serif and sans-serif. The graphic below illustrates the differences between the two:
There are key differences between serif and sans-serif fonts, and how they affect readability:
Using serif fonts isn’t going to ruin your resume if you’d really like to use them. You’ll probably still get hired. But, for ease of reading and skimming, limit yourself to two fonts, and lean toward sans-serif.
Resumes need to include a lot of information in very little space (ideally, within one page). One way to squeeze in more detail about yourself while retaining a clean look is to use narrow margins. This helps you fit more text per line.
If you’re using Microsoft Word, you can easily set wider margins by clicking on the Layout tab:
Next, click Margins. Then, select Narrow:
This is how the template included in this post sets its margins.
Bolded text can help important elements of your resume stand out. Consider bolding items such as:
That’s about it. Too much bolding can easily look obnoxious.
You’re finally ready to start doing some actual writing. Here’s how to make sure you nail it.
A hiring manager will need to know the best way to contact you, and where to find more information about yourself and qualifications. Make their job easier by including each of these items:
Some of this information is obvious. Other things like Twitter bios and portfolios, though, can be small enhancements that help you stick out as a candidate (as long as your social media presence is relevant and your portfolio is up to par).
In most cases, this will mean your college or university. Only list your high school if you didn’t attend college (no judgment here–I know people who have done well in digital marketing without attending or going into post-secondary education).
Include the following:
A word about grade-point averages: in my experience, most marketing hiring managers don’t prioritize them. While high academic achievement reflects well on your work ethic, it’s your skills that are going to get you hired.
So, should you bother listing your GPA? If your GPA is particularly strong, or you earned academic honors, then include them. Plus, if you’re in college and applying for a highly competitive internship, an employer may set a GPA threshold for applicants.
If your grades weren’t great, you’re not doomed, as long as your portfolio demonstrates talent.
If you’re active in your community, or have a little bit of work-related experience, you may have been recognized for your efforts. Some examples might include:
Even if its not directly related to marketing, any sort of educational, business, or professional development awards you’ve earned are great ways to help you stand out.
If you get the opportunity to speak at an industry event, take advantage of it. It’s a great way to share your knowledge, and you often learn more about your topic by trying to explain it to others. They also show a willingness to volunteer your time to help others, and indicate a high level of competency in the field.
Don’t have anything to put here? No worries. Just consider this tip something to think about.
Once the general “about yourself” content is completed, it’s time to get down to your capabilities.
If you’ve gone through college, have some work experience, or have a relevant side hustle, then you have some skills. However, it’s important to prioritize the ones that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for, and the ones where you’re most proficient.
Here are some examples of skills you might need:
This is a general list, but you get the idea. The specific skills you might need to develop or highlight will depend on the specific type of role you’re applying for as well, which this post will cover later on.
Now, what if you’re making a career change and don’t have what you think is relevant experience? In that case, it’s time to get creative, and determine how your existing skill set might transfer. Here are some examples:
Here, start with your most recent relevant job position. Then, work your way backward chronologically.
If you have too many to list, or if you’re applying for a senior role where you have lots of experience (say, maybe 10 years or more), then consider adding a second page to your resume. Otherwise, choose other areas to trim down, or include just your top three or four jobs.
Be sure to include:
Once you have the basic information out of the way, add your responsibilities and accomplishments. While a hiring manager will want to know what you had on your plate at a past job, they’ll be more impressed with what you actually achieved.
So, make your experience stand out by doing this:
If you’ve had internships in the past, repeat the process above.
For those in college or recently graduated applying for internships, include previous internships or relevant campus jobs if you’ve had them.
If you’re applying for your first internship or job, and you’re struggling to muster enough experience to round out your resume, consider the following tips:
Finally, add any volunteer experiences you might have. Start with those that are relevant to the job or industry. Then, if you have others (and have extra space to fill), include those too. Showing that you’re engaged in your community and giving with your time can add a small boost to your resume.
Unless your employment history is extensive, stick to one page. Two may be acceptable if you absolutely need extra length, but keep in mind that hiring managers are often busy people. One easily skimmable page will make their life easier.
It’s easy to fudge the truth, thinking you won’t get caught. Don’t do it. If your actual skills don’t live up to your description on paper, your new employer will absolutely notice.
Generally speaking, there’s no need to include past jobs that aren’t relevant to marketing. There are a couple of exceptions, though:
In these cases, list your employment history in chronological order, doing your best to display achievements that could be appealing in a marketing context.
Marketing is a broad term that encompasses many different disciplines and types of jobs. In order to make this advice applicable to your own situation, find the role you’re applying for, and adjust according to the needs of the position.
This role is high in demand across the industry. CNN Money predicts 19% growth for this role by 2024,
Here is a brief job description from MediaBistro:
“Day-to-day responsibilities often include creating and managing social media campaigns; monitoring engagement and analyzing data; managing content marketing campaigns; implementing SEO best practices; and building strategic partnerships.”
The work of a content strategist can cover a lot of bases. Check out this diagram from Express Writers:
So, what exactly do all those bubbles encapsulate?
Here’s an anonymous example from LiveCareer.com (based on an example from an actual content strategist–this example is fairly nondescript, but note the skills listed):
Managing social media means more than just sharing GIFs all day.
Here’s a look at a day in the life of a social media manager from Buffer:
According to Jeff Bullas, here are 10 skills a good social media manager should have:
This example below from Lauren Marinigh, a freelance social media and content marketing specialist, checks all the boxes:
It puts experience first, then continues onto a second page:
At this level, the required skill set moves away from focusing on execution, and starts to include project and personnel management. Take a look at this job listing template for a senior marketing management role from Glassdoor:
Next, take a look at common responsibilities for marketers at this level:
This is based on aggregate research Glassdoor (a company that has access to tens of thousands of job descriptions). If you’re looking to make the leap into management, there are some skills here you’ll likely need to acquire:
Something else to note here: they’re only looking for 4+ years of experience. Digital marketing often hires young staff for senior roles provided they have the skills to do the job. CoSchedule’s own Demand Generation Lead, Nathan Ellering, is an excellent case in point.
Speaking of Nathan, here’s a look at the actual resume he used to get his job at CoSchedule back in 2014:
If you’re both a conceptual thinker and skilled wordsmith with a passion for selling, then copywriting could be the path for you.
Copywriting jobs come with a diverse range of needs. You might be writing short-form content for social media posts day, headlines for print ads the next, and website copy the following week.
If you’re applying for traditional agency copywriter position, getting creative with formatting may not be a bad idea. In fact, I know someone who scored an agency job with a resume he wrote on an old-school typewriter, demonstrating the kind of outside-the-box thinking the job requires while keeping the focus on his capabilities for wordcraft.
Here’s an example of a well-designed copywriting resume:
Do you get excited about copywriting, seeing how products get developed, and helping to bring them to market? You might find this role to be a great fit.
Product marketers are responsible for shaping how products are perceived by the public. In this role, you’ll need to know how to connect customer problems to product-based solutions in a way that’s creative and compelling. Strong copywriting and project management skills are essential.
Here are four basic skills you’ll need according to Digital Marketing Institute:
They continue with seven more soft skills that are beneficial:
Here’s an example from ResumeIndex (note that in this example, the applicant came from a deep background of business and product development before moving over to marketing):
If you’re outgoing and focused on details, then you might have a bright future in PR.
Anything and everything to build relationships and foster a positive perception of a company or organization. This typically means:
That’s just a short list. According to the Guardian, one of the world’s most respected news organizations, here are the top five skills you’ll need to succeed in this role:
In this industry, a straight-forward resume is typically best. Check out this example from LiveCareer.com:
How does content rank on Google? That’s what search engine optimization specialists figure out.
If you had to break it down into one sentence, SEO is all about getting content to rank, drive traffic, and convert. But, there are lots of different types of SEO roles out there:
A quick search for a search marketer’s portfolio should turn up results if they’re good at their job, right? That’s how I found this example from Kern Media:
Who herds cats on marketing teams? Project managers. If turning chaos into cohesion is your thing, this might be the role for you.
Project managers ensure marketing projects and campaigns are executed effectively and efficiently from start to finish. They ensure that timelines are enforced and that everyone on the team has what they need to succeed. When roadblocks crop up, they also work on finding solutions to keep the team moving.
It continues onto a second page with detailed work history:
While content marketers, content strategists, SEOs, and PR pros focus primarily on organic inbound strategies, specialists in PPC (pay-per-click) and paid social media work to attract audiences and customers with paid tactics.
This resume stands out for its visual design, while highlighting the skills required to do the job well:
So far, this post has looked primarily at examples of traditional resumes. However, there are a handful of other formats in the examples above too, like using SlideShare presentations, or creative design.
In most cases, for most marketing jobs, a clean and simple resume will suffice. What’s important is that it’s easy to read, and your work experience is impressive.
However, it’s a crowded job market out there. While I personally have stuck with simple one-page black-and-white resumes, others have had success thinking outside the box (and I’m not one to argue with success).
It’s easy to fall into a trap of trying to be too flashy. But, if you’re applying for a creative role (like an ad agency copywriter or social video specialist), then going above and beyond might help you stand out.
Here are some ideas and examples that have worked for others.
Videos can be a great way to help hiring managers get a sense of who you are before bringing you in for an interview.
I have no idea if this guy was successful, nor if humor is necessarily the best angle for everyone, but this video resume example is both A) creative and B) well-produced:
Marketers often create slide presentations. Lots of slide presentations. Often, their purpose is to sell clients or team members on the merits of a campaign or idea. Or, you’ll need to present data and reports to show results and prove you’re worth paying.
So, why not apply those skills toward selling yourself to an employer? If you can do that successfully, then certainly you could succeed on the job, too.
Here’s another example of a great marketer’s resume on SlideShare:
Note that this isn’t necessarily fancy or flashy, but it does provide its creator with another place to be found.
If you’d like some help creating something like this, here are some good starting places:
Here are some resources for building simple online portfolios (where you could also host a resume):
If this post has succeeded, then the mystery around effective resume writing should be cleared up. Here’s a recap of what you’ve learned:
All that’s left is to put this post into practice. I’ll be wishing you the best of luck.
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