I have a bone to pick with recruiters! They all seem to ignore me and I have never gotten a full-time position through one. They all say what a great resume I have and what great experience I have, BUT they don’t have anything for me. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that phrase and how frustrated it has made me, especially in this ridiculously tight job market. I know what you are thinking – its probably my resume or gaps in my career. Neither is the case (at least according to the recruiters I have spoken to). So what is the problem ?
I don’t fit into the normal marketing or sales box and given the extreme specifics of job descriptions these days, people who don’t fit an exact mold find themselves outside looking in. What is the mold – traditional CPG experience in brand management at a Fortune 500 company. Why don’t I fit? While I have marketing experience at Fortune 500 companies like Revlon, Cadbury Beverages and Energizer, my experience is in either sales, trade marketing or integrated marketing/promotions and not brand management. I have extensive digital, but I am not a digital only expert. There are plenty of others like me. Many end up back on the agency side or transition early on over to brand management. You may be one of these, but you also may be like me and don’t want to be in brand management or at an agency. So, what do I and others like me do? See some ideas below for how to make that less traditional background work for you.
Realize It Isn’t You, It’s Them
The first thing to do is realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a more creative, more broad background. It just means you don’t fit into the standard box and there are fewer positions that may be suited for your experience. This current job market has so many people available that companies can ask for detailed and specific backgrounds that they feel are ideal for their company. I recently saw a job description from a recruiter that listed the companies the hiring company wanted to hire from. If you didn’t have that specific background don’t bother applying even if your experience is completely relevant. These recruiters also have so many people looking that if you don’t fit the box they may not actively look to place you especially since they are paid by the hiring companies. Don’t take it personally.
Think Outside the Box
If you don’t fit in the traditional box, don’t look for jobs there. Look at smaller companies or unique situations. I once interviewed for a Marketing Director position at a not-for-profit healthcare facility that wanted to leverage my corporate marketing experience and apply it to their organization. I didn’t get the position, but someone with a similar background did. Smaller companies and entrepreneurial situations need people who can do a lot of different things and a broader background is something that will appeal to them. You just need to sell yourself well.
Network, Network, Network
If I’ve never had success using recruiters how have I found my jobs and interviews? Often I have had the most success networking, which is what job hunting is all about these days. People at companies have told me about jobs they have or have submitted my resume to their company for a position I found out about. The reality is that there are fewer integrated and promotional marketing jobs these days and the competition for them is fierce so using someone who knows you and your work is often essential to landing the right role.
Move On and Don’t Focus Your Energy Where it Isn’t Going to Drive Results
So many of my friends have provided me with recruiter names. I have followed up with them, but ultimately I have found spending time working with them has not helped in my job search. In fact, some haven’t even had the courtesy to call me or email me even after I had sent them my resume. I won’t turn down an opportunity presented by a recruiter, but I have also not made the recruiters the focus of my job search. I have a number of friends who have been working very closely with recruiters and even have more traditional backgrounds. One, a brand marketer, ultimately found a position networking with a fellow college alumnus and the other is close to a position working for someone she knew earlier in her career. The message here is don’t rely solely on recruiters and don’t waste time with them if they aren’t working for you.
My message to my fellow marketing services and integrated marketing folks is to soldier on and realize that finding a job may take a different path than your brand marketing friends. It is a tough job market, but what makes you good at your job is what will benefit you in your job search. Sell yourself, promote yourself through different means and look for unique opportunities that will leverage your background.