How to Get into Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide

There are certain industries that will always be around. Marketing is one of them. After all, there will always be concepts and products to sell and parties to selling them to. That isn’t to say that this is a stagnant industry. On the contrary, marketing evolves as technology and society change.

Knowing this, it can seem intimidating to those trying to get into the marketing field. Much like any other field, there are several different ways to break into it. Here, we’re going to break down different steps that can be used to achieve a quality position in this field.

Breaking into Marketing with a Degree

While far from being the only option, younger professionals interested in marketing might want to take the route of first earning a degree. Almost every college offers a business path for its students. This gives students the freedom to choose from a variety of different colleges, and they can even choose an online option.

The undergraduate degree paths for students in marketing aren’t usually denominated as solely “marketing”. For instance, you could do a Bachelor of Science degree with a focus on marketing. However, post-graduate students can focus on marketing as their overarching degree. These usually pave the way for more specialized career paths such as international marketing or marketing communication.

What Are the Benefits of Earning a Degree?

There are some benefits to earning a degree even though it isn’t the only way in. For one, it serves as a certification to show prospective employers. Many potential employers see a degree as proof that interviewees have prior knowledge when coming into the job. This can help you to start off at higher tier positions rather than entry level marketing jobs.

Most universities also help to match students up with jobs in marketing after college, for instance through career services or career fairs. Many universities help graduates find internships which often work toward their credits.

A Degree Isn’t the Only Option

Just because you don’t have a degree in marketing doesn’t mean you have to settle for another career. It just means that you must approach the process from a different angle. You’re probably wondering how to get into marketing jobs without a business degree and, honestly, there isn’t a single answer.

Earning Certification

One of the challenges of not having a degree is proving your expertise in the field. However, there are other ways to preemptively prove proficiency to potential employers. There are a few different programs to help with getting into marketing without a business degree.

First, let’s consider one of the biggest online mediums on earth right now: Google. Any online marketing – or, now, most marketing – has to focus on getting the most out of the search engine. If you don’t pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO), the ads and content that you or any ad company post won’t find success. After all, if someone searches for something, you want to make sure your content comes up as high on the search as possible. SEO is how anyone online makes their content known to and seen by potential clients. This means driving more traffic to the content.

You can study these topics and earn certification for them through programs such as the Google Analytics and Google AdWords Certification Exam. These programs include studying a series of videos and units and taking an exam at the end.

With a growing online market, you can also take certification courses to learn from established marketing professionals. These programs are usually much shorter than a college class and come at a much lower cost. They can help you gain some of the necessary knowledge and earn certifications to show potential employers.

Look for Another Professional

Another way to get into marketing with no experience is to work with someone already in the industry. You’ve probably already heard recommendation after recommendation about networking in any field. Well, the honesty of these claims is indisputable.

Of course, not knowing any others in the marketing industry doesn’t mean you’re cut off from it. However, if you can find someone to work with, it can help you go a long way.

Having a mentor comes with a two-fold benefit. First and foremost, they can help teach you the ropes. There are few methods to learn that are as helpful as working directly with an expert. They can also help by giving you projects to work on for yourself. This will help build up your confidence and portfolio.

The second way that networking can help you is in finding a job directly. You may be able to get a job through that professional directly or through someone they know. They can also be helpful in that they can vouch for you to other professionals. While you may have trouble convincing a potential employer you deserve a job, it can make the process much easier if there is another professional whom they trust saying that you’re a good choice.

Create Your Own Content

Many of us pull away from the idea of doing work for free. However, if you take the time to create your own content, you’ll build up your portfolio. For instance, investigate your favorite brand, company, product, etc. From here, you can unofficially act as if you’re in charge of their next marketing or advertising campaign. Try to create the best concept possible. This could include activities like coming up with a new ad through photoshop or thinking up a concept and script for a commercial. Obviously, you aren’t going to be able to create something on the same level that a large company would because you don’t have a team of experts or, most of the time, the same expensive software. However, it will show your level of creativity and your sense of how marketing works. If you continue this practice, you’ll see yourself get better and grasp more marketing concepts. Think of it as an art – the more you do it and the more you get advice from others, the better you’re going to get.

Write a Killer Resume and Cover Letter

Just like for any other job, the first step to applying is to come up with a great cover letter and resume that will blow an interviewer away. It’s important to put your best foot forward here because it’s what a potential employer is going to judge you on. If the resume and cover letter are good enough, they’ll call you in for a face-to-face interview. Unfortunately, many of us find this written portion rather intimidating. If your resume writing skills aren’t up to scratch it may be worth hiring someone to do it for you.

Cover Letters

Let’s consider cover letters first. Since your resume is going to highlight your hard skills (i.e. “I did X task to fulfill Y need”), you’ll want to focus on your soft skills in the cover letter. This includes topics such as customer service skills, communication skills, etc.

It should also have a distinct tone. First, you’re using this forum to tell the reader why you are the best choice for the job. This isn’t the place to beg for a position or say why you might be a good fit for the job. You need to write from the perspective of someone who is confident in their skills. Write as though you are offering your skills to the company and tell them how you’re going to use them in the job.

Organization is key here. You aren’t only going to be judged on the content of your cover letter but also on how well it is constructed.  To start, you’ll need an interesting hook. This should be a sentence or two about why you’re a good fit for the job that will catch the reader’s attention. The company will likely get a large stack of applications, so you need to make sure yours stands out. Then, you’ll want to create a forecast. This will highlight the points you’re going to cover. There’s no place for suspense in business writing.

Each of the points you cover should be an example. For instance, “I cultivated strong communication skills through X situation.” This also isn’t the place to list your responsibilities – that’s what your resume is for.

A cover letter should be short – typically less than a page. A good rule of thumb is to create a 3-point forecast and follow it with a paragraph apiece. Finally, there should be a conclusion that restates the skills that you’ve discussed and a call to action. A simple, “I hope to speak with you on this matter again soon” or “You can reach out to me through X method” are effective and simple choices.


The resume should highlight the responsibilities of previous positions and hard skills that you have. This is where you’ll list specific tasks carried out, education, and technical skills. This is the part that should be done in simple, clean formatting.

For each bullet point, you’ll want to highlight a responsibility from the job being discussed and cover why the task was done. It’s also important to start each bullet point with a verb rather than “I” since it cuts down on unnecessary clutter. For example;

  • Supervised associates to ensure customers were met with quick and high-quality care

This is a clean, straight-to-the-point example. It clearly states what was done and why. At the bottom of the resume, you’ll want to list hard skills such as proficiency in Microsoft Office as well.

Start in a Sales Position

Now that we’ve discussed how to earn outside experience and apply to a job, let’s take a look at another to get into marketing: sales. The two areas are similar. At the end of the day, they both want to get a client to purchase a product. The biggest difference is in how they get there. A sales associate usually talks directly to a client and makes the sale in a short period. On the other hand, marketing teams work to cast their net over a wide audience that might not be swayed so quickly.

Both fields require strategic and tactical thinking to draw customers in to make a purchase.

This is why starting in sales is a great way of getting into a marketing career. In addition, it can also be a way of getting into marketing without a marketing degree or starting a career in marketing and advertising even if you have a degree.

If you’re starting in sales, it’s a good idea to investigate companies that have upward growth options. If a company intrinsically hires new hiring recruits, it’s more likely you’ll have the chance to grow into a higher-level marketing position. This is a more long-term way to reach your goal but it’s also a good way to establish yourself on a strong footing with a company. This can make your position more secure in a company. If you continue this upward growth in a company, it can also be a great way of getting into marketing management.

Consider Different Marketing Types

We’ve looked generally at how to get into marketing and advertising but it can also be very helpful to narrow down your goal in marketing by getting to know what types of marketing there are. This can also be helpful since the steps to get into one market might differ from one another.

How to Get into Marketing Research

Marketing analytics and research have to do with analyzing industry data as well as analyzing company-specific information. Since this is such a research-heavy position, most companies want someone with a marketing degree. Many also look for some mathematics proficiency such as a minor in statistics. Some positions may favor an MBA to a B.S. This is especially true the more technical the required research gets.

How to Get into Marketing Consulting

Consulting is a fitting career for those who love to help others and to travel. While consultants usually work for a company, they may not spend all their days in that office. Instead, consultants set out to work with others to help them improve their marketing team.

Having a degree can help here but, once again, it isn’t the only way into this marketing path. What matters most here is how much experience you have. To consult for other marketers, you have to prove your own worth as a skilled marketer. This is why you often see senior marketers in these positions. Some universities help their students to get into the field of consulting quicker through internships and other programs.

Many consulting companies also look for marketers with managerial experience since they will be helping shape other teams. To guide others through new tactics, it’s important to have the managerial skills of organizing and leading a team.

How to Get into Digital Marketing

Most of the marketing is now digital. That prompts the question, how does one get into internet marketing?

The Google certification exams can help you a lot in this area. They will teach you how to optimize content for online use. Yet, it’s important to note that these tests aren’t evergreen. The way that search engines work and even how we search for things is constantly changing. For instance, many content creators are trying to keep up with the changes between typed and spoken searches because the way we type into a search engine is usually quite different from how we talk to virtual assistants or smart speakers.

In other words, you’re going to need to keep your skills up to date even more than in traditional marketing. The good news is that tests like the Google exams are often updated to account for new information, so you can retake them periodically.

How to Get into Social Media Marketing

With digital marketing being so popular, getting into marketing and social media is a good way to go. The main way is to be a social media expert which is an increasingly popular job. The biggest requirement for this is to have a good handle on social media and search engine optimization.

Social media marketing also includes how to get into influencer marketing. This type of marketing is similar, but you’ll need to be able to contact online personalities for sponsorships and product placements. You’ll want to carefully consider which products will go with each influencer’s audience best.

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