I wrote this back in February and forgot I hadn’t shared it.
Being paid to post social media posts of cute puppies is a dream job, for sure, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Full-time paid marketing jobs in the veterinary industry are rare but do exist. It can take years to build up your portfolio, professional confidence and personal network.
When I was starting out, I did social media for free for small companies to build up my portfolio. Learn how to position yourself as the ideal candidate when your dream job opens up.
Network, network and network again
At first, I was intimidated by the thought of networking because I had this negative assumption that it was this insincere quid pro quo arrangement. But, I quickly realized that it’s nothing like that. Networking is more like building friendships and helping others. When I network, I get to meet new people, who share my interest in marketing. I enjoy hearing about what they do and learning from them.
In my case, a year or two ago I got coffee with an alumnus from my college and she recommended I reach out to the owner of this marketing agency. So I reached out to him, got coffee with him, and stayed in touch on LinkedIn.
When I was job hunting, I emailed him asking if he could let me know if he knew of any social media or digital marketing jobs. A few months later he emailed me to recommend I apply for a social media job that he knew of. Best of all, he knew someone who currently worked there and connected me with her, so I was able to call her and ask her what it was like to work there. Then, she put in a good word for me and next thing I know, I had an interview!
A great way to build up your network is to attend local events related to marketing and join local chapters of networking groups like American Marketing Association, American Advertising Federation, Together Digital, or Public Relations Society of America. These groups usually host a monthly meetup which is a great place to meet other marketers.
I like to chat with the attendees at the event, and if it feels right ask for their business card. I follow up by email and invite them to coffee to learn more about their experiences. I’m not asking them for any favor, I just want to genuinely get to know them better and hear more about their career path.
If you’re job searching, quietly tell trusted friends that you are open to new opportunities. Tell your friend what kind of specific role you’re looking for, that way they can have a better idea of what job opening to pass your way. In this conversation, be careful not to be negative about your current role or company. All you have to say is you are looking for new opportunities, you don’t need to get into specifically why.
Keep a portfolio of your work
Be your own cheerleader and keep track of the great work that you do. Create a personal website where you showcase examples, screenshots, testimonials and case studies of work you’re most proud of.
Sort your work by category (social media posts, blog posts, photography, print materials, etc) or by what organization the work was for. Share details about why you created certain pieces, how the piece evolved, the goals of the campaign and the key measurements of success.
Also, print out examples of your work into a hard-copy portfolio. My portfolio is a simple black binder with laminated pages. I made it when I was first job hunting out of college and it gets the job done.
Bring this to every in-person interview and make sure to show it to your interviewer. They might not ask to see your work samples but make a point to show the great work you’ve done. Having an organized portfolio of your work really impresses employers.
When you document your previous work, you’re also preparing yourself to answer interview questions with real-life examples. See, when the interviewer asks “Tell me about a time you created a holiday campaign on social media,” you can easily show them your “12 Dangers of Christmas” campaign because it’s documented in your portfolio. I like to do this because it communicates “Well, rather than tell you what I’ve done, let me show you and you can see for yourself.” Let your work speak to your greatness.
Organize your job search
Take the time to track your job search seriously. First, make a list in an Excel sheet of your dream companies. What’s a place you’d love to work at? Add a column to the right and note if each company is hiring or not. Next, note in the third column if you know anyone at the company. LinkedIn is a great tool for seeing if you know someone at a certain company.
Then, track what jobs you apply to so you can follow up. I like to do this in an Excel sheet too. One column lists the name of the company, another column lists the role you applied for and then jot down the date you applied. As you hear back from the company, make notes and update the sheet.
I learned this technique from the book “The 2-Hour Job Search” which is a great book to check out if you want to be more strategic about job hunting in 2020. (Fun fact: I borrowed the book from the library, left it in my car with the windows down when it rained, bought the book from the library, so now I own the book.)
Log onto LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a wonderful social network for professionals. Don’t underestimate its power! I found out about one of my jobs because the company’s head of HR sent me a LinkedIn message. If I didn’t have a LinkedIn profile, she wouldn’t have found me, and I wouldn’t have gotten that job.
Be sure to check your LinkedIn feed twice a week. Take time to comment on articles, share professional status updates, look for jobs, and write articles. I like to use LinkedIn to see who works at my companies I’m interested in and then I reach out to invite them to coffee.
Stay up to date on marketing trends
Subscribe to blogs and newsletters to stay up on marketing industry trends and news. Social media and digital marketing change so rapidly, that you have to keep your finger on the pulse. I recommend the blogs and newsletters from Snout School, Social Media Examiner, The Daily Carnage, Internet Brunch, HubSpot, Canva, Moz, and AdWeek.
Also, listen to marketing and social media podcasts. Some good podcasts are Copyblogger FM, Perpetual Traffic, Social Media, Lab, The Science of Social Media, Social Media Marketing Podcast, and The Socialette.
Don’t forget basic interviewing etiquette
This might seem basic, but it’s valuable. Show up to the interview or coffee meeting 10 minutes early. Always say please and thank you. Address people you don’t know very well using their title rather than their first name.
Email a thank you note the same day of your interview or coffee meeting. Mail a handwritten thank you note the day after your interview. If you’ve invited someone to coffee, offer to buy their coffee.
Most importantly, be patient in your job search. Wait to find the role that gives you butterflies challenges and excites you. Trust your intuition if you get bad vibes from a company.
I like to journal about what I’m looking for in my next role, thinking back to what I did and didn’t like about previous roles. Jot down important questions you need to get answered before you accept a role. Remember that you’re interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you.
You deserve a job you love every day.