How to get a brand marketing job

When you’re trying to forge a career in a competitive industry, it’s so easy for people to tell you to “get experience”, “make your CV standout” or “do some networking”, but what does it actually take to nail the interview and get your first job? In this Cosmo on Campus series, various women talk us through exactly how they managed to get their first step on the career ladder.

Lauren is Head of Brand Marketing at Visualsoft, an eCommerce and Digital Marketing business who work with brands like Little Mistress, Olivia Burton, Moda in Pelle and Canterbury to help them grow their business online. She looks after their marketing, communications and PR activities, overseeing a team of four and arranging everything for their staff parties to large-scale learning and entertainment events for clients, partners and publishers across the UK and beyond.

Q: What actually was your first job title? What did the job involve?

A: My first role was Business & Learning Marketing Officer at my local authority. The department looked after marketing and business development for Adult Learning courses, apprenticeships and funding for businesses. I’d never worked anywhere like it before so there was lots to get my head around with regards to Government policies and incentives on adult learning. I worked with an array of businesses across the region, big and small, created marketing materials, such as magazines and blog content for students and apprentices, produced radio advertising and attended events to showcase the work we did throughout the region.

Q: Did you go to university?

A: I did – I studied English Literature at Northumbria University. While a more ‘general’ sort of degree, what it taught me in terms of creative writing and research has been incredibly useful to me in my roles to date.

Q: What did you want your first job to be?

A: I presented the student radio station’s breakfast show for two years at uni and was hugely passionate about radio. I definitely wanted to be the next Sara Cox, but unfortunately I just didn’t have the contacts in this area to make a good go of it.

Q: What internships/work experience did you get? Did you work for free?

A: I’ve been incredibly lucky in that I didn’t intern, I fell straight into a role. While the role at the council wasn’t always my vibe, it opened doors to other roles and allowed me to build my skills quickly, so I made connections and made a leap into a sector I’m really interested in.

One thing that I feel has really helped me in my career is running a blog in my spare-time. I started mine five years ago and focus on my love of food and drink. It’s allowed me to work with amazing brands like Fentimans, Craft Gin Club, Nespresso and many others on unique blog and social media content, as well as introducing me to French Connection, who I worked with for a number of years as their ‘girl in the North East’ for their now-defunct ‘Off the Record’ blog. This extra string to my bow really boosted my profile in the region and again, allowed me to create content, run events and work on some brilliant campaigns.

Q: Did you have contacts – did anybody give you a helping hand?

A: I’ve attended heaps of events that have allowed me to grow my network and as mentioned, the blog has definitely worked in my favour. There have been a few occasions in my career where someone I know has recommended me for a role or to help out with something, and I always try to say yes to as much as possible when it comes to my career, as you never know where it could lead!

I’ve now spoken at universities, events and won some awards along the way, including being featured in The Drum’s annual run down of Top 50 women under 30 in the digital space (2015) and last year I was shortlisted in the Women in Marketing awards, which have worked as a big helping hand.

Q: Do you think the qualifications you got were paramount in landing your first job?

A: Yes and no. Yes, I think the skills I learned at uni have helped me become a better professional and honed my skills, but considering my course was in no way related to what I do now, I’d say no on that front.

For me, being successful has been through getting out there and meeting people, being a bit fearless, doing it for yourself and being eager and determined. There’s a saying in Newcastle – “shy bairns get nowt!”, and I’d say that’s pretty much always in mind if I’m ever in doubt of just going for it!

‘For me, being successful has been through getting out there and meeting people, being a bit fearless, doing it for yourself and being eager and determined’

Q: What was the job interview process like? Did you have loads of rejections?

A: For my first role, there was a two-stage interview process and psychometric testing. This can seem daunting, but the key thing is to remember that nobody is testing you, you’ve just got to go in that room and be the best version of yourself.

I’ve had many a rejection along the way and have turned down offers, too. I find that working in the digital industry makes marketing/comms skills and experience a real hot commodity as there are so many businesses still not getting this stuff right, which makes things easier when on a job hunt.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to do the same thing?

If you’re seeking a career in Brand Marketing for the digital/tech industry, stay up to date with news and updates. I wholeheartedly recommend starting a blog from scratch. WordPress is super easy and you’ll pick up invaluable skills such as content creation, technical knowledge such as basic coding and real-life experience of building a brand. Employers look to see what candidates do ‘outside of the box’, so owning and maintaining a blog definitely ticks the right boxes.

Mingling with other like-minded people and going events where you can meet and learn from great people is something you should do, definitely. Take the plunge – introduce yourself, ask them questions, send them a cheeky connection request on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. The ‘right’ people are so important to your career journey.

Q: Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

A: Not at all, as cheesy as it sounds! I’ve had an almost decade-long career doing exciting things, furthering my skills and knowledge and working with great people. You can’t ask for more than that!

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