searching 2

Just lucky I guess?

How did I land my first job? Well, to be honest it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be and let me tell you, luck had nothing to do with it. I spent countless months applying for every job I could find with the words ‘marketing’ and ‘entry-level’ in the description. I reached a point where I found the whole process futile and gave up for a while — who needs a job anyway, right? Then one day I woke up and decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. You’d be surprised how many doors a little positive thinking can open.  

It was time to set up a plan. I decided to break up my ultimate goal of getting a job into bite-sized chunks and my first step was to put myself in the shoes of an HR manager. I realised that if I wasn’t getting any call backs then there was a fair chance my resume and cover letters sucked. With a little bit of research (and a lot of frustration) I quickly learnt something that seems so obvious to me now: personalise everything. I used a resume builder to clean up my resume and I began personalising them for every application I made. It took a little longer to complete each application, but the effort was worth it.

I was now happy with my cover letter and resume, but a pretty resume and a well written letter wasn’t going to balance out my lack of work experience. Now I know what you’re thinking, if you need experience to get a job and you need a job to get experience, what on earth do you do? There’s no single answer here. But for me, it was to offer to work for free. While hunting for my first big-boy job, I was working part-time at a trampoline park. I asked my manager if I could help out the marketing team in my own time — I didn’t expect pay, I just wanted the experience. Fortunately, he said yes and even let me do it during my working hours.

It was time to move on to phase three of my genius plan — levelling up. My new-look resume and personalised cover letters were doing the trick and I landed a couple of interviews, but I couldn’t get past the first round. I felt like I was in a video game and every time I got to the Boss Battle I would crash and burn. That’s when it dawned me. In almost every game worth playing, you need to gather experience points to get to the next stage — so that’s what I did. A position opened up at the trampoline park I was working at, and while I didn’t want the job, I saw it as an opportunity to get crucial experience points. I asked my manager if I could interview for it so that I could get some interview practice and feedback. The lessons I learnt were invaluable. Being good in an interview isn’t about having a pre-conceived answer to every question an interviewer could possibly ask. It’s about having a deep understanding of the role you’ve applied for and the organisation offering the role.

With everything I had learnt I felt ready to finally find a job in marketing. But job hunting is a tough game, and the competition is fierce. I needed to find a way to differentiate myself from the crowd. With a little help from my old friend Google I learnt that sales experience was desirable to marketers, so I started applying for every job I could find in sales. After only two interviews I landed a gig and if I am to be perfectly honest, I was miserable after just two months in the role. Sales just wasn’t for me. But I had to stick with it as the experience was critical.

After persevering for four months I couldn’t bare it anymore and felt it was time to find my true calling. I figured it couldn’t hurt to begin applying for entry-level marketing jobs again. I had hopes of maybe, possibly, landing an interview here or there, but I didn’t really expect much to begin with. Imagine my surprise when I started to get call backs and interviews within weeks of applying for roles. The short stint in sales taught me more than I could have thought — and interviewers could see it.

I now work as a Campaign Assistant for the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) and I’m finally doing the things I had always wanted to. Finding your first job isn’t easy. It requires a lot of trial and error and hard work, but if you break up your goal into achievable chunks and utilise every opportunity to learn a new skill, you’ll eventually get there. And believe me, it’ll be worth it.