How To Land Your First Marketing Job at a Startup
By: Carli Evilsizer | July 11, 2018
Are you a recent college grad dreaming about getting your first marketing job at a startup? Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think! Startups usually have small budgets and can’t afford to hire experienced marketers with years of experience which means they are the perfect place for new grads to look for job openings.
Startups are looking for candidates who can wear many hats and have an entrepreneurial drive, so if you are ready to roll up your sleeves, work hard and learn, you will have much better chances getting hired at a startup. (Once you’ve learned where/how to apply for startup jobs and how to show off your experience, of course!)
We chatted with 4 startup marketers to hear how they got their first startup marketing job and were surprised by how different each of their responses were! Their tips ranged from everything covering intern experience, resume tips, working with recruiters and tips on what skills to showcase in interviews.
1. Get Real Life Experience First
Nicolas Straut got his first job in marketing as a Content Marketing Associate at Fundera. He said the key thing that helped him get a marketing role at a great company was making sure he actually had real world experience, even as a recent grad and had some great suggestions for how a new grad could get some more work experience on their resume.
“One of the top things that startups look for in all potential hires, including for marketing roles, is real-life experience. Startups don't have the resources to fully train new hires and thus seek proven candidates who will provide value from the jump. You can gain valuable experience by doing marketing for a college club, selling basic marketing services on a site like Fiverr, or interning for a startup locally or remotely. A great place to look for startup internships is AngelList, a site dedicated to connecting startups with talent or investors. I got my first marketing role by interning every summer and all but one semester during college, which helped me gain experience and make useful contacts.”
-Nicolas Straut, Content Marketing Associate at Fundera
2. Be Willing to Intern First
Christine Kilbride got her first startup marketing job as an SEO Associate at Majux Marketing. She shared that marketing can be a competitive field (even in startups) so if you have just recently graduated you should be willing to be an intern first. It's not uncommon for startups to hire you after your internship if they have space on the team and funding!
“Marketing can be a competitive field to break into, so I recommend being willing to start at the intern level - even if you're a new graduate. I received my first full-time role at a marketing agency through a post-graduate internship. At start-ups in particular, try to prove that you're hardworking and willing to go the extra mile. Start-up owners appreciate those who are willing to stay late, and those who have multi-faceted skill sets.”
-Christine Kilbride, SEO Associate at Majux Marketing
3. Submit Customized Applications ASAP
Joel Debus landed his first full-time startup marketing job as an Email Marketing Specialist at FitSmallBusiness.com . Prior to landing his first job, he had 3 different internships, all at different companies in different industries. After landing all of these internships and now a full-time marketing role, Joel had some great application tips for new grads.
“I got my first job as an email marketing specialist at FitSmallBusiness.com, a startup in NYC. While in college, I checked off two marketing internships. One was at a small startup and the other was at iHeartMedia, so I was accustomed to two very different styles of work environments. I would recommend applying to jobs within the first 5 to 7 days they get posted, customizing your resume and cover letter to every position for which you're applying, and landing at least two relevant internships for your future goals (yes, some of them might be unpaid). Doing so, recruiters will know you are taking your job search seriously, and you will increase your chances of getting a returned phone call.”
-Joel Debus, Email Marketing Specialist at FitSmallBusiness.com
4. Work With A Startup Recruiter
Rachel Hengesh got her role as the Brand Marketing Manager at Jumpstart Foundry after working with a recruiting program that specialized in placing recent grads at startups. Check out her tips to not only land a startup marketing job but also thrive once you've started.
“Try a recruiting program for startups! I applied to Ohana Health, a recruiting program for high-growth startups from around the US. They interview and vet students and place them in startups (1% acceptance rate)— I am working as the brand marketing manager at Jumpstart Foundry, a seed-stage investment fund for healthcare startups. We are 6 employees strong. My best piece of advice: learn as many hats as you can, be a self-starter & quick learner. Your job description won’t encompass all you do, however the growth you experience will be accelerated.”
-Rachel Hengesh, Brand Marketing Manager at Jumpstart Foundry
We hope these tips help you land your first startup marketing job! Before you start sending out application after application, remember no matter how many internships you have or how great your resume is, networking is key. The startup community is close-knit and often share recommendations between startups on everything from investors, agencies and employees. Be sure to build authentic connections in the startup world, you never know if someone has a friend that works at a startup that’s looking to expand their marketing team.
RELATED: When Should Startups Hire Their First Marketing Employee?