How to Write a Compelling Marketing Resume (Hint: Get Ready to Sell Yourself) was originally published on The Muse, a great place to research companies and careers. Click here to search for great jobs and companies near you.
Marketing is a large, exciting field that’s growing and evolving. Whether you’re a digital marketer, brand manager, copywriter, analyst, or in any other marketing career, you’re constantly part of new and emerging trends, and you get to think outside the box and tell engaging stories. But before you can do any of that, you have to write a standout marketing resume.
Resumes are important in every field, but in marketing, your resume isn’t just your first contact with a prospective employer, it’s also your first work sample. After all, when you apply to a job, you’re essentially marketing yourself.
“Marketing is all about the messaging and appealing to the consumer, and [as a recruiter] I’m the consumer,” says Janice Ryan, a marketing consultant with 20 years of experience hiring marketers for various roles and founder of Sunway Consulting. And you as a potential employee are the product. “If you can’t sell yourself well, that doesn’t help the case for you getting an interview.”
The good news is if you’re a marketer, you already know a thing or two about crafting a persuasive message. Here are some tips for applying your marketing skills to your resume.
The bulk of a resume’s substance is in the bullet points—that is, the brief descriptions you write under your past jobs (or activities or education) that explain what you did and what you accomplished. For a marketing resume, crafting these is especially important because it tells future employers how well you can come up with a brief, specific, and easily digestible statement that gets the reader interested.
Marketers “have to be able to tell a story and a lot of that starts with your writing and communication skills,” says Maureen Joseph, Chief People Officer at GoodVets, who has recruited marketers in a variety of fields including professional services, retail, financial services, and healthcare. When she’s hiring marketers, she’s not only looking at the content of applicants’ bullet points, but also “how you word things and how you craft that story around the specific job or experience.”
When writing your bullet points, “don’t just list duties, say what you accomplished,” Ryan says. In your last job, did you increase return on ad spend (ROAS)? Did you grow your user base? Were you recognized by your company in some way? Focusing on your achievements in your bullet points tells hiring managers and recruiters not only what you’ve done, but also how well you did it.
In order to show just how much of an effect your work has had, you should quantify your bullets whenever possible. Ask yourself how much, how many, how often, what percent, says Muse career coach Tina Wascovich. Joseph suggests thinking about metrics like followers, readership, and click-through rate, among others. Key performance indicators (KPIs) change from company to company, Ryan says, but if you’re specific about the growth you achieved, a hiring manager won’t need to have an intimate knowledge of the company or space you worked in to understand what you’ve done.
You can put these ideas together in an achievement-oriented bullet point that leads with an action verb, Wascovich says. If that action word ties back to a skill that’s mentioned in the job description, even better (though you should avoid repeating the same verb over and over).
Here’s a simple formula to follow:
- Action verb + description of work (quantified if possible) + outcome including any available metrics
You wouldn’t come up with a marketing campaign without taking into account the audience you’re trying to reach and persuade, would you? For the same reason, you shouldn’t be submitting the same marketing resume for every job application. Instead, you should tailor your resume to each posting and company.
“The first thing is understanding who you are, what your value is, and how that’s relevant to a particular employer,” Wascovich says. From there, you can decide what info to include for each job. This is especially important in a wide field like marketing. If you’re a generalist looking to move into a specialist role in social media, for example, you might devote more resume space to the social media aspects of your past jobs over the content or email aspects. You can also research the company to see what their values are and incorporate that into your resume. If a company values teamwork and collaboration, you can mention times you’ve succeeded as part of a team.
It might seem tedious to tailor your resume for every application, but it will pay off. If you don’t clearly emphasize why you’re the right person for this job, why would a recruiter give your resume a second look? Would you buy a product if you didn’t know how it would improve your life or solve the problem you’re having?
When you submit a job application online, it often passes through an applicant tracking system (ATS), software that will scan your resume for relevant keywords. Recruiters often have a lot of resumes to go through, so they also may be quickly skimming for keywords that relate to the job description. You can work these keywords into your bullet points organically, add them to a skills section, or (especially for important keywords) both.
Each job will have different keywords, so this is another area where you should be tailoring your resume. Read each posting carefully to pick up on desired or mandatory skills, qualifications, and qualities to find that job’s keywords. If a keyword is mentioned and you have experience or aptitude in it, it should go on your resume so that people (and ATSs) can quickly see that you’re qualified for the job. Look at the language and mirror it, Joseph says. For example, if they’re looking for Excel and you’re a pro, don’t just say you have expertise in spreadsheets, use the word “Excel.”
Here are some marketing-related keywords to get you started:
- Blog Writing
- Brand Management
- Click-Through Rate (CTR)
- Content Marketing
- Cost Per Click (CPC)
- CPM (Cost Per Mille, i.e. Cost Per Thousand Impressions)
- Data Analysis
- Demand Generation
- Distribution Channels
- Digital Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Email Blast
- Google Ads
- Google Analytics
- Lead Generation
- Market Research
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft Powerpoint
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
- Power Editor
- Return on Investment (ROI)
- Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media
- Visual Communication Design (VCD)
These days, it’s very unlikely that someone will only see your resume on paper. That means that you can and should include links! You can link to your LinkedIn, online portfolio or personal website, and anything else that showcases your past work.
You can also link to your personal social media accounts, especially if they’re professional and show consistent branding and messaging or if you have a large following. This is especially valuable if you’re looking for a social media marketing role.
There are some resume guidelines that apply to every field. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- Keep it to one page. As you progress in your career, a two-page resume might make sense, but if you’re early in your career, a one-page resume is vital for showing you can get your message across concisely and not include unneeded information.
- Use a chronological format. In general, recruiters prefer a resume that lists your experience first (after any heading information or resume summary), in reverse chronological order, with skills, education, and any other relevant sections at the end. However, if you’re a new grad, you should list your education first, then your experience. If you’re a career switcher, you might consider if another resume format is right for you.
- Take it easy on the fancy formatting. You don’t need a flashy resume to get hired as a marketer. In fact, it might hurt you. Recruiters want to be able to quickly read your resume without distraction and ATSs can’t decipher many formatting elements. So follow best practices for formatting your resume for an ATS.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. This is important for every field, but marketing a resume with a typo is likely to be rejected outright, Wascovich says. It shows a lack of attention to detail and that your written communication skills might not be up to snuff. So be sure to proofread your resume, and then pass it along to one (or more!) people you trust to find any lingering typos.
If you’re just entering the marketing field, it might feel like you can’t showcase a lot of relevant achievements, but your experience doesn’t have to be in a marketing role to be relevant. Here are a few tips for showing off your skills even if you don’t have a lot of past marketing jobs under your belt:
- Quantify your past achievements outside of marketing. If you’ve streamlined a process, cut a cost, or retained or brought in customers, that’s relevant to marketing, even if you weren’t in a marketing job when you did it. Recruiters know that entry-level marketers won’t have a lot of marketing experience, so they’re looking for candidates who take initiative, make things more efficient, and think creatively, Ryan says: “I can teach marketing.” Show these achievements off the same way you would formal marketing experience.
- Look for ways you’ve used marketing in any context. Even if you haven’t held a marketing job, you may have marketed yourself, your or someone else’s side hustle, a club, or an event, Joseph says. Did you help a friend grow a YouTube channel? Do you sell a product or service online? Have you recruited members for a club or other activity? Did you help get people to a fundraiser? Did you help a past company improve sales? If so, you’ve done some marketing and that experience belongs on your resume.
- Highlight relevant coursework and projects. If you’re a new grad, you can list relevant courses in your education section or write a few bullet points describing a big project you did to showcase your skills. If you have work samples you’re particularly proud of, you can include these in an online portfolio or personal website.
- Consider a resume summary. Including a few sentences about who you are, what you’ve done, and where you excel at the top of your resume, particularly if you’re making a career change, can help put your past experience into context for recruiters.
- Emphasize your soft skills. All jobs require soft and hard skills. Hard skills include software, technical, and role-specific skills and knowledge. Soft skills are more about qualities like collaboration, communication, creativity, project management, organization, and work ethic. Showing off these qualities can demonstrate that you’ll be a good employee and colleague, Wascovich says, and you can be trained in other things. Work your soft skills into your bullet points, but Wascovich says that for entry-level candidates, mentioning soft skills in your skills section is also OK (unlike later in your career, when you should stick to hard skills for a skills section).
So what does this advice look like in action? Take a look at this sample resume for a digital marketer.
This might all feel like a lot, but remember: Your resume is just a marketing document for yourself. If you apply the same principles here as you would to a campaign, you’re likely to land the right job for you.