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Ask James Caan – Issue 67

Written by Kimberley Startup | October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

In response to last week’s column focusing on franchises, I received a number of really interesting letters from you all. Franchising is clearly a hot topic at the moment, with more and more budding entrepreneurs looking for the chance to be their own boss considering this path.

At the other end of this scale are those ready to start their career – people who know what they want from life, are ready to step onto the ladder, but perhaps need a point in the right direction.

Take Sabrina for example. She tells me she’s recently graduated with a degree in BSc Business Management. Unfortunately, during her exams, her grandfather passed away which affected her overall performance and she achieved a 2:2 classification.

Her question is this:

‘Many organisations require someone with a 2.1 degree, which I understand but sometimes these organisations have to realise that it’s not all about the grades, it’s about your personality, one’s work ethic and how determined an individual can be.

‘My question to you is how does someone with an O.K. degree get into the marketing field as it is so competitive?’

Sabrina, personally, I don’t think employers differentiate between classifications as much anymore. The qualification is good to have, but it’s not always a decision maker.

As a graduate, you’re not selling your CV, you’re selling yourself. This includes who you are, what drives you, your ambitions. It’s becoming extremely hard to differentiate graduates too.

Employment is far too competitive to assume that just because you went to a certain university, or achieved a particular qualification, you’re guaranteed to get a job. You still have to perform and deliver; you still need to show how you would add value.

You are obviously a very passionate and proactive person, so I would suggest using the skills you’ve acquired to see how you can make your application stand out more.

You already know marketing is an extremely competitive industry, but it’s also one that offers so many areas to get involved with. You’ve got everything from sales promotions and direct marketing, to communications and integrated advertising. And let’s not forget digital and of course, mobile.

Your first step should be keeping up-to-date within the field. Employers seek marketers who are aware of the latest trends and developments, and who continually seek to enhance their skill sets.

Have you considered becoming a member of the CIM? Membership to this professional body not only provides you with resources and content, but it can also put you in touch with some great networking opportunities.

When looking to enhance your skill set, ask yourself what are the key qualities and skills employers are looking for?

An increasing number of companies are fast switching proportions of their marketing budget from traditional channels to digital activity, so perhaps this is where you could carve your niche?

Setting up a LinkedIn group or micro-blogging on Twitter could provide a platform for you to come up with some exciting marketing ideas, and could position you as a great thought leader. You could also segment who you follow on Twitter by identifying key companies you’d like to work for.

Establishing a presence, however, is only the starting point. Marketing managers (and financial controllers!) are interested in return on investment – so get to grips with how to measure and evaluate performance. Learn about the different tools available, and how they differ from B2B and B2C markets.

Today’s job market is, unfortunately, a case of survival of the fittest. But if you put the extra research, work and hours in, I’m certain you’ll find the right opportunity for you.

I wish you the best of luck,


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