I’m not going to mince words: Hiring kind of sucks.
First, if I’m hiring for a marketing role, that usually means someone on my team is moving on, and that’s bittersweet. It’s great to see people I’ve worked with grow and try new things, but it’s also sad to see them go. Second, and worse, hiring takes up a ton of time. It can be so hard to find the right person!
In my time at WordStream, I’ve reviewed HUNDREDS of marketing resumes, some better than others. Some a LOT better than others.
If you want to get hired for a marketing job, you need to make sure your resume immediately stands out, because the hiring manager is busy and frustrated and doesn’t have time to grant everyone a phone screen.
Here are nine simple ways to improve your marketing resume and increase your chances of getting an interview.
When reviewing marketing resumes, hiring managers want to see hard evidence of strong performance. So take a look back at the work you did in your last or current role and make sure you quantify your successes.
Math: Anyone can do it!
Examples of stats you might include:
The same way that numbers improve CTR in ad headlines, they stand out from all the verbiage on a resume and show that you’re results-driven.
Chances are, at any given moment, your hiring manager’s eyes are glazing over with the boredom of reviewing dozens of resumes in a row that all look the same. Especially if your experience isn’t absolutely stellar or perfectly aligned with the role, you can get your resume noticed by using a striking resume format.
Some design elements that can help you stand out from the other marketing resumes include:
Depending on the role, attractive resume formatting could just be a nice-to-have or it could be critical. If you’re applying for a job in design, your resume is effectively part of your portfolio, so don’t take shortcuts. Make it count.
Most resumes include a section that lists your skillsets, but I’ve seen plenty of marketing resumes where it was a total waste of space. Mastery of Microsoft Office is pretty much a bare-minimum skill for any marketing job, so think bigger.
Most importantly, make sure the skills you list are relevant to the marketing job you’re applying for. A good third of the resumes I get don’t even use the words in the job title anywhere on the resume! This is a terrible idea, because it makes it look like you’re just carpet-bombing people with your resume and didn’t bother to read the job description. Plus, some companies use screening software, meaning if your resume doesn’t include certain keywords, a real person won’t ever even look at it.
In particular, hiring managers are going to be looking for three things:
It’s also worth mentioning marketing certifications and relevant awards (i.e. marketing industry awards).
Try not to be too vague or general in this section. Pretty much everyone believes they have “the ability to multitask”; putting that on your resume is like saying you’re a good driver.
This is key! You can claim anything you want on a resume, but your claims are going to go way farther if you’re able to back them up.
Consider adding links to:
When I’m looking to hire a writer or content marketer, I really appreciate when candidates make it easy for me to see recent samples of their work.
List any degrees you have, where you got them and when. Don’t bother including any of the below:
Seriously, just leave all this out. It looks amateurish – unless there is literally nothing else to put on your resume because you’ve never had a job. (The rules are a little different if you’re trying to land an internship.)
The fact is, 95% of hiring managers don’t care about the details of your academic background, because getting A’s in college doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about how the person will perform in a real work environment, and classwork doesn’t really translate into experience. So don’t waste space; include more details and data from your previous jobs instead.
My colleague Meg Lister told me, “I LOVE when people add a sentence to the top of their resume to describe who they are or why they want the job. It’s a nice way to personalize an application without a cover letter.”
You should have a cover letter (see #9, below) but if the application doesn’t allow for it, definitely make use of this tip. Add a sentence at the top, right under your contact information, that summarizes who you are and what you’re looking for in your next career move.
An example of a good summary sentence is “Self-motivated SEO with six years’ experience, strong analytical skills, and a belief in the power of holistic marketing campaigns.” (This is good because it differentiates you from other candidates, like a value prop for your resume.)
Here’s an example of a bad summary sentence: “I am seeking a full-time position as a content marketing specialist.” (This is bad because it all it does is state the obvious – duh, that’s the job you’re applying for – and shows no personality.)
Unless you’re applying for a very senior position, like a VP role where they’re looking for 10+ years of experience, pare down the information on your resume so it fits on one page. Otherwise you’re sucking up too much of the hiring manager’s time.
If you’re struggling to cut down your marketing resume, here are some ideas:
If you have room and it doesn’t push you over the first page, show the hiring manager a bit of your personality by including a brief list of two to three hobbies. It reminds the hiring manager that you’re an actual human.
We’ve hired at people at WordStream whose hobbies include birdwatching, figure skating, kendo, bartending, reviewing food trucks, mountain climbing, marathons … (I mean different people, not one person all at the same time).
Our beloved Erin at her OTHER job
If the hiring manager thinks they will like you as a person, that might give you the edge.
Your resume isn’t ever going to tell the whole story, so always supplement the resume with a cover letter, and always tailor it to the job you’re applying for.
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