Because of how easy it is to find jobs online, most open marketing positions are met with a lot of applications. It’s not uncommon for a marketing recruiter or hiring manager to encounter dozens or hundreds of applications in a single day.
Unfortunately, many of those resumes are mediocre. A large portion end up straight in the trash, dismissed to resume hell after a quick glance. A holy handful of standouts are put on top of the pile, in resume heaven. The rest, neither remarkably bad enough to be immediately discarded or noteworthilly exceptional enough to get special attention, are stuck in Limbo.
And there they’ll probably stay. Unless something unusual happens during the hiring process, there are few reasons marketing recruiters or hiring managers would consider digging into a pile of average resumes when the best are already on top. These lackluster resumes are left in stasis, often for weeks or months, on the off-chance that someone might need a backup plan. But they rarely do.
This state goes by a lot of names, like the resume black hole. It’s a fate considered by some worse than outright rejection—at least then you’ll sometimes get notified that you’re no longer being considered. Your resume doesn’t have to be perfect to make it up to heaven; it just needs to follow some basic best practices and avoid a few deadly sins. If you’re having trouble getting out of application purgatory, earn your halo with a few key marketing resume tips.
Customize For the Job and Company
Though it’s fine to have a “base” resume to use as a template, you should always modify your resume from application to application according to the position you’re applying for. Your qualifications and experiences will have varying values to different organizations.
Do a little research on the company’s philosophy and carefully read the job posting to fully understand the kind of person they’re looking for. Then adjust your resume to highlight your relevant skills and achievements. As a marketer you know how important it is to adjust your message for different audiences. When you market yourself, do the same.
Emphasize Your Achievements
You have a limited amount of space to impress the hiring manager or marketing recruiter than encounters your resume. Don’t waste it by listing basic responsibilities that anyone with the same job could do.
Instead, place your accomplishments front and center. How did you deliver demonstrable results? What processes did you improve? What problems did you fix? How much more profit did you drive?
Your achievements are what set you apart from other people with similar backgrounds. Employers want to know you won’t just be competent at the job, but that you’ll excel and improve. A history of consistent, proven success is a strong indicator of a promising future.
Be Strategic With Your Keywords
Keywords aren’t just for SEO. They serve an important role in making your resume stand out, too. First of all, you want marketing recruiters and hiring managers to easily be able to find you in their Applicant Tracking System when they search for certain skills or accomplishments. Second, you want readers to immediately have a grasp of your strengths when quickly skimming over it themselves.
When possible, change your information to reflect keywords in the position’s job description (but don’t just stuff them in haphazardly). Avoid vague phrases and titles that don’t have widespread relevance. Marketing is so diverse, a term like “senior marketer” or “media manager” could mean a thousand different things.
Keep It Straightforward
In their efforts to climb out of resume limbo, too many people think they need to get cute or fancy with their resume to make it stand out (we’re looking at you, creatives). From unusual formatting to creative graphics, we’ve seen it all. And these efforts are usually more detrimental than beneficial.
If you frame them correctly, your abilities and achievements will speak for themselves. There’s little need to go beyond a standard professional template—especially since most ATS’s will remove everything but plain text anyway. If you feel that your creativity is an essential part of your skills and identity, consider linking to a portfolio or website and showcasing yourself there.
Drop a Line
It never hurts to express a little interest with a short, earnest attempt at contacting the recruiter or hiring manager. A short email or voicemail introducing yourself and sharing your interest and appreciate for consideration can put you at top of mind. But don’t waste the recruiter’s time, don’t be obsessive about reaching out to them multiple times, and don’t take it personally if they don’t respond.