Skip to Content Skip to Footer
How to Stand Out As a Marketing Job Applicant

How to Stand Out As a Marketing Job Applicant

Tom Gimbel

Having a strategy for finding, applying to and landing the job you want is critical in an ever-crowding applicant pool for sought-after marketing jobs

The marketing and ad tech industry is valued at more than $110 billion according to U.S. aggregate revenue data. Revenue has increased every year since 2010. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9% increase in employment for marketers through 2024, 2% above the average growth rate of other industries.

Marketing is becoming one of the most promising industries to make a career in, and it’s attracting a lot of strong candidates, which means it’s harder than ever to stand out.

Pre-application: Take a self-inventory.


Before you apply, you need to know what you have to offer. Don’t fail at knowing you. A healthy self-knowledge will help you convey to a company why you’re a good fit for them. You have to know the kind of environment and culture you thrive in. Do you need a quiet environment? Do you like working on group projects? Are you looking for a certain level of autonomy? Understand what motivates you, and reflect on what type of manager and leader gets the best out of you.

Ask yourself what type of work you enjoy most. An agency role might be best for someone who prefers working with multiple clients and interacting with different personalities and cultures. Others work better with a deeper knowledge of one client at a time. In-house roles may be better for this individual. Be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for and why you want it.

The research phase: Target companies that fit.

Thoroughly research companies before applying, which means going beyond reading their website and scanning social media. Talk to employees. Read stories their company leaders were quoted in. Dig into what the culture is like. Does it align with what you want? Do you have the skills required? What are the key words in the job description? If it mentions proficiency in graphic design, a high-demand skill for marketers today, be honest about your ability. If you don’t have much experience with it, enroll in a course. Sharpen your skills. Don’t waste your time or the employer’s by embellishing.

Your marketing résumé: What do you bring?

In the marketing industry right now, we’re seeing a skills gap on the technical side and a high demand for digital proficiency.

A survey of employers by the Economist Intelligence Unit revealed that candidates who are strong with HTML and CSS coding, data analytics and graphic design are getting ahead. If you’re weak in those areas, and they are important components of jobs you are applying to, invest in yourself. Take a course, shadow another marketer, pick up a book at the library. Start to learn and expand your skill set. Your résumé is your calling card. As a marketer, your résumé is held to a higher standard. There should be no spelling or grammar errors. Take time to ensure the formatting is consistent and tenses are correct. Triple-check everything. Ask someone else to proofread it, too. Your résumé should mesh with the research you’ve done on the company.

The more work you’ve done in the pre-application phase, the easier it will be to align with what hiring managers are looking for. If you noticed in your research that a job description uses certain key words, use them. Don’t embellish, but accurately describe your experience. When employers are looking at hundreds of résumés for only a few seconds each, seeing those words that show a fit right off the bat can put you at the top of the list.

Before you submit, step into the hiring manager’s shoes. What would make them pass on your résumé given the job description? Find the holes and fix them.

The interview: Be bold and win the job.

Asking good questions makes you stand out. Don’t miss the opportunity. Ask the interviewer if he or she has any hesitations about your background. Then, address them on the spot. Be open about your weaknesses and what you’re doing to work on them. This shows self-awareness, a critical skill for marketers that is hard to convey on a résumé.

Ask what made the last person in this role fail or succeed. If it’s a new role, ask what characteristics a successful candidate should have.

Another way to stand out is to come with ideas. Prepare opportunities for the company to grow their brand, suggestions of things the company could do to improve or successes they can build on. Be prepared to discuss how you would implement your suggestions if hired.

If done right, it’s respectfully bold and shows two crucial skills marketers need to have: critical thinking and problem solving. It reflects that you’ve put time in to research the company and understand what it’s doing. If it’s good, it can lead to substantive conversation in the interview that demonstrates your vision and elevates you above the pack. If you have a portfolio to back it up, bring it. If you don’t, try to build a body of work, even if it’s freelance samples that show your ability.

Tom Gimbel is CEO and founder of LaSalle Network, a recruiting and staffing firm based in Chicago.