How to get a marketing job after lockdown

By: Richard Michie

As part of our series of Marketing Webinars we regularly speak to people from all types of industries about their business and their current perspective of their industry.

Recently we spoke to Jonathan Hirst of Network Marketing who specialise in recruiting marketers for agencies and clients. Given the turmoil in the job market for marketers and recruitment in general, his thoughts on how to secure a marketing job after lockdown are very pertinent at the moment, all his thoughts still apply even if you’re not after a career in marketing.

He also has some great advice for marketing agencies too, looking to fill roles that may have been tough before the covid outbreak.

We truly hope that this webinar may go some way to helping you land a new role, now or in the future.

Here’s the full webinar we did with Jonathan. There’s a full transcription below so you can skip to the points you need.

How to get a marketing job after lockdown

Richard Michie: So, thanks for joining me on The Marketing Optimist Marketing Sandwich Course. Today I’m going to be speaking to Jonathan Hirst, who has been running Network Marketing for… Is it 20-odd years, Jonathan? A long, long time?

I’ve known Jonathan for most of that time, I would’ve thought. Jonathan’s always given me sage advice when I had a proper job and I was looking for a new role. And obviously, I think back, Network Marketing definitely placed me, probably more than once.

And I’ve also gone out to them to look for placements when I’ve been looking to recruit as a new business. So it’s always good to speak to Jonathan. He’s always full of fabulous advice. So without further ado, I’m going to hand it over to Jonathan. If you’d like to embellish on my introduction and then we can get going.

Jonathan Hirst: Yeah, no problem. We’ve been going 24 years and it’s been an interesting time over the last three months because we never experienced anything like that before. Just for people who don’t know, we’re specialists in marketing, digital and creative improvements and cover the Leeds, Manchester, London locations, which is pretty much the centre to marketing for the UK.

I just wanted to have a chat with you today about the market as a whole, what candidates’ experience might be like, maybe offer a bit of advice to people around CVs and structure, stuff that’s going to be important, and how to manage applications. And also, from a client perspective, what the market looks like and how you might adapt to suit that, and the new recruitment process. Things have changed dramatically. People aren’t going into office for interviews. Candidates who are starting jobs aren’t following a standard induction process, so I thought I’d just talk a little bit about that, as well, if that’s an interest to the audience.

The current marketing recruitment landscape

So start off with the market itself. Look, I know there’s a lot of people out there that are feeling very either nervous about jobs that they’re in, whether that’s going to continue for the long term, or may have unfortunately been made redundant. So I really do sympathize and empathize with them. But I can’t butter this up any other way than the market is significantly down on the standard position that it would be we’re around 20%. And as we went from March into April, when you say it dropped off a cliff, it went down to political zero whilst everyone was taking stock.

The good news, though, is that things are improving. And so we are feeling, certainly throughout June, we’re feeling that the market is starting to improve. More briefs are coming through, with more commitment from clients genuinely interested in recruiting people and bringing people into their teams. So there is some hope out there, but the market is still significantly down on where it was. And that’s going to have an impact on candidates searching for jobs. So hopefully today, I can give you a little bit of insight into how you might give yourself a better chance of getting in front of people.

How should candidates structure their job search?

So for candidates, what I’ve evidenced over the last three months is a deluge of CVs. And if we’re receiving a deluge of CVs, then everybody else, too, is. If we look at one of the roles we placed for a marketing campaign manager, over 150 applications. And yeah, so it’s just too many to manage as a recruitment business. If you multiply that over a number of vacancies. And this isn’t the norm, by the way. Normally we’d expect 20 or 30 applications for a role like that. And what we’ve seen is that maybe through desperation, maybe through a scattergun approach, we’ve seen a lot of candidates that are entirely unsuitable for the jobs they’re applying for. And that might be through skills and experience, geography, a whole range of different elements. But quite blatantly obvious that they’ve neither looked at the job description, looked at the location, looked at [inaudible 00:04:14] parameters. They’ve just fired an application through. And I know it’s a while since you’ve looked for a job, Richard, but-

It’s so easy to quick apply for jobs now that the application almost becomes valueless and that’s a real issue, because the more that that happens, the less people are actually going to post jobs because they’re just getting deluged with people that are irrelevant. And the more they could use other routes to try and find people.

So my first bit of advice to candidates would be to specifically apply for a job. Don’t just send applications out scattergun. You will not improve your chances of getting a job by sending 100 applications to jobs that aren’t relevant. You will improve your chances of getting the job by sending a specific application to a specific job with the reasons why you’re suitable to that job.

So the CV needs to look right. So this is the next bit of advice for you. The CV needs to look right. It’s quite a simple structure for CVs. And I’ll just jump straight into the core of it, which is actually the experience part. Clearly you need the company name, job title, dates you’re working there, take that for granted. The next couple of lines is the description of the organization you worked for. That gives context to your experience. And then the next chunk of it is the different elements of work that you did, in bullet points, preferably, so it’s easy to read. And then the next [inaudible 00:05:45] results, return investment, those types of things that you managed to achieve for the company.

So quite a simple structure, really, but I think that will give everyone the best chance at getting their experience across to a reader that really won’t spend very much time looking at the CV. It doesn’t jump to me right there and then, then you’re not going to get through to the short list stage. So the CV is really important, but it sings according to that particular vacancy. Not just a generic. Richard, I know we’ve been involved a [inaudible 00:06:14] view recently and you’ve probably seen a range of CVs coming directly into your inbox, as well, haven’t you?

RM: Yeah. You just kind of get blind to them. They just come in and ones that start off with, “I was the captain of the hockey team.” And you’re like, that’s not useful to me. I need to know… Because they are just… It’s like confetti and there are so many coming through, you do get blind to them. Absolutely. So then you need to stand out and it’s difficult to make them stand out, and especially if they’re all coming in the same format. I guess for you, that’s probably quite interesting, that probably more use for you because you need to process them so quickly. The people who are out who are coming in as individuals, how could they make a CV stand out from everything that might look quite bland? What are your thoughts on that?

JH: Okay, so I’m going to contradict you a little bit there. The CV will stand out if they’re worked in the same or similar market, doing the marketing activity that client needs them to do.

So it’s as simple as that. Then it will stand out. But there is other stuff that they can do around that. Because you will be applying to recruited or even direct companies, there’s a few things you can do. You could reach out to the recruiting director, as well as applying through the advert that may be on Reed or LinkedIn or wherever. So you could connect with them on LinkedIn and say, “I noticed you’re advertising. I put in an application through the right routes, but I also wanted to connect with you.” So there’s something else you could do to stand out that other people probably won’t be doing.

You could just email them direct. It’s not rocket science to work out people’s email addresses these days. Email them direct and say, “I know you’ve got my application through this, but I’d also like to send the application direct to you because I think I’m specifically relevant to that job.” Just on that point, now is not the time with the scarcity of vacancies and the number of applicants that are applying for each job, now is not the time to be thinking about jumping from one market to another or jumping from one discipline to another. So, you might be an SEO marketing manager in a company at the moment, but you’ve decided really the route is that you want to be a creative director at an agency. Now’s not the time to be making those moves. Use the skills and tools that you’ve got to get your next career move. And if you’re forced into it through redundancy, then clearly the most important thing is to get another job that is satisfying and that pays the bills.

So there won’t be many people taking on people speculatively. By that I mean, “Well, we’ll give them a try and see how they get on.” They’ll be looking for specific skills. So yeah, the standout thing is, how relevant are they? And have they got the right marketing knowledge, and have they got the right market knowledge? There’s the two core things pretty much every time for me.

marketing job after lockdown

Work your LinkedIn profile

So your LinkedIn profile can help you stand out, as well. Everybody should be up to date on LinkedIn. Put a bit of effort into. Spelling mistakes on LinkedIn, I guarantee clients are looking at LinkedIn profiles and spelling mistakes on there looks pretty shoddy. It’s as bad as having spelling mistakes on your CV. So, make sure that you’re really on top of that. Take that seriously. Get some recommendations on that. And start to build your connections with people that will be useful when you’re finding another job.

For more experienced candidates, if you’ve got any of those on the call, then probably about 50% of the experienced candidates I know get their new role through people they know. So my biggest piece of advice is to reach out to your network, and you may feel nervous about that. You may feel self conscious about it. You may be a little bit awkward, but trust me, you’ll never know how supportive your business network is until you start making those calls and until you start putting yourself on the radar. So for experienced people, I would recommend building up your own personal network and just putting calls into people and saying hi and just saying, “Look, this is where I am at the moment.” And changing your profile on LinkedIn to looking for my next consulting opportunity or looking for a next permanent role in said markets, whatever it might be. But use your personal network.

RM: It’s a funny thing, that because obviously, before I set off on my own in a business, I was a heavy user of LinkedIn. And still am. And at the time, you don’t really realize why you’re building that up or what you’re doing about it. But then when I started my own business, I used it for that exact route, by reaching out to people who I’ve been connected to, because right now I can help you, now I can now speak to me and that’s how I built the business. So it’s the exact same route for finding the job. People don’t know you’re looking for a job unless you put your hand up and tell them that you’re looking for a role.

JH: One hundred percent. And they won’t notice you. I don’t want to say that in a nasty way. But they won’t notice you on LinkedIn unless you do stuff on LinkedIn. And so, start finding articles to share, comment on other people’s activity, be engaged with people. It’s probably the best business networking tool that we have at our disposal. So make the most of that.

If I’m talking to marketers generally, which I think I probably because we’re on the Marketing Sandwich Course, then think about your job hunt as a marketing job. So how am I going to target the right people with my skills and experience so that I get the desired outcome, if you want to call it, sale, whatever? But I get myself a job. So everyone knows the old marketing funnel, don’t they? Richard, you could probably talk to it better than I can, but we’d pop a load in at the top and gradually you filter down until you get [inaudible 00:12:07] at the bottom. Well, it’s a little bit like that when you’re job seeking. So we need to do a lot of work at the beginning. We should then start to generate some conversations, whether with recruiters, or with companies direct that may or may not be recruiting.

That should then start to lead to first stage interviews, second stage interviews, which will then become an offer. So as long as you’re targeting the right people at the beginning, you should get the desired outcome. Again, I’ll just say, the scattergun approach just doesn’t work. I guess what’s more disappointing about the scattergun approach for the applicant is that you might send up 100 applications and get no responses. And there can’t be anything more demoralizing than that, particularly if you are under significant pressure to find a new job quickly. And so for that reason, target the right companies. You got to far better chance of getting a decent response. And then, you’re going to enjoy the job search process, rather than every time you send an application, have the expectation you’re going to get nothing back.

So, it’s a classic marketing funnel there, which you might want to post on your website so people understand it.

RM: Yeah, it is one of those things, especially as a marketer, so especially… There’s so many roles in… If you’re using the LinkedIn route, there’s so many roles in social. If you demonstrate that you’re using that social, and let’s say you want to be a B2B marketer, by marketing yourself as B2B through a B2B route, that stands out for me. I’d go, okay, right so this person gets what I’m going to then potentially ask them to do. In fact, I can reflect that directly back to Sophie, because I found Sophie because she lost, she was made redundant at Christmas time. And she posted on LinkedIn, you spotted it, I contacted her, we went through the whole route of that, and then basically I hired Sophie, based on that. Sophie’s a case in point that it works. It’s just a case of putting yourself out there.

JH: Yeah, Sophie gets a gold star because she connected with me as well, before this, so well done, Sophie.

Sophie: Thank you.

Target marketing roles specific to your skills

JH: The other thing, as well, so that you don’t get too demoralized is just to manage your own expectations. If you’re targeting vacancies that are specifically relevant to you, then I’d expect you to get a call back and hopefully an interview. But, if they’re on the fringes or you’re on the fringes of what their requirements are, don’t expect to get a call back. Don’t expect somebody to respond. And I know this isn’t really the way business should be done, but because there are so many applications going in for vacancies at the moment, it’s almost impossible to respond to them all, for either a client, or a recruitment company.

But none of this is personal. You make a application, so don’t take it personally. It’s just part of the process. So yeah, don’t get demoralized at all if you’re not getting positive responses back to all of your applications. But I do think that if you’re got a really targeted approach, you’re hitting vacancies that you can demonstrate, you’ve got market knowledge and specific marketing skills that are relevant, then people will call you back and start to talk to you about those roles. So hopefully that’s been useful for the candidate perspective. Again, we can open up to questions if there are any later on.

Marketing agencies and clients

From a client perspective, there’s probably a similar story, but the other side of the fence. So companies are definitely looking at a solid September return. This is what I’m hearing from most of the MDs I’m speaking to. September seems to be a bit of a watershed. There are obviously companies going back before that. I know of some companies that are back in the office, working full time already. But many of them are adopting a more flexible approach to working. Some of the clients I’ve worked with for 25 years who have often had the most, let’s call it, old-fashioned approach to working, which is everybody in the office, every day, have openly said now, that there is no way we’re going back to that.

There’s no way we’re returning to everybody in the office five days a week. The owners themselves don’t want to return to that because they’ve seen that people are responsible, they work from home effectively, they can get on digital Zoom meetings when they, or whatever platform and have meetings whenever they want to, and if necessary, they can come into the office for meetings and they can go and see clients at their sites, or customers at their sites. So I don’t know what your plans are, Richard, but I imagine it’s going to be similar to that.

RM: Yeah, if you think about it, it’s scary that it’s taken a pandemic for this to happen, really. We’ve been banging on about more flexible working for a while, and it is now that this technology arrives because if this had happened five years ago, the industry would have struggled a lot because Zoom wasn’t there and the broadband speeds weren’t there and all those other things. So yeah, obviously we’re a smaller team and we’re growing, so we are going to be making a return back to the office, but I’ve said to the guys that it won’t be a full time return to the office. It’s going to be a more flexible approach because it’s just not needed anymore. And I think it’s the way that people prefer to work. We jumped really quickly like most businesses did into suddenly flexible working. And I think it worked straight out the traps, really.

JH: Well, often just seeing if it can change requires some sort of shock to make it happen. And I think we all agree that this pandemic was a serious shock. How, as a nation, we didn’t predict this was going to be how it is, based on our demographic and I don’t know now, looking back, but with the benefit of hindsight, we would probably make a lot of different decisions. But the significant shock forced people to change their working patterns and I genuinely think it’s been a change for good.

Be open to flexible working

So from an employer’s perspective, being open to that type of flexibility is going to make a massive difference, particularly in marketing where people can work from home. In terms of the recruitment process for employers, you’ve got a decision to make, I guess, about whether you do things internally or whether you use external agencies and I’m an advocate of using external agencies because I run one. No surprise there. But they do provide a valuable resource, which effectively is man hours that you probably don’t have because you will be getting dozens and dozens of applications for every role. And you will find it difficult to manage those effectively.

And I hate to think what the careers at inboxes are going to be like for different businesses when they’re recruiting direct. And how they manage the different sources of candidates coming from all different routes, whether it’s LinkedIn, Jobs, Reed, Totaljobs, or wherever that might be. So we do manage that whole process, and obviously hold everything together for you and just deliver you the people that are suitable. If you have a large resourcing team internally, then arguably you can do that.

Curate your employer brand

One of the things we also look after is more about your employer brand and so as we’re going through the recruitment process, I would argue that network marketing and recruiting generally these companies are better at keeping in touch with candidates and letting them know how they’re getting on in the recruitment process than companies generally are. And so we have significantly more touchpoints with a candidate than a client would. And that builds reassurance about the recruitment process and also creates more of a likelihood that actually it’s going to be successful.

So again, choice about whether you use recruiters or not, whether there’s a significant benefits to doing it and the biggest one right now, getting through the next six to 12 months will be that we will manage our time on your behalf, which will save you time and therefore, money. So yeah, and in terms of recruitment process for clients, guess what? It’s a lot easier now because we can actually organize video interviews. I don’t know how many clients, pre-COVID, were using video interviews, but for our clients, who are supposed to be tech savvy, it was virtually non… I don’t know whether you’ve ever used video interviews, Richard, or whether you always preferred to see people face-to-face.

Utilise video interviewing

RM: I wasn’t using video interviews, but I tended to do a phone interview prior to getting in to face-to-face because obviously, at that point, it was fine. Here’s one of the problems, though. You do want to see people. And that’s why video can work really, really well, and that’s obviously why you do the face-to-face. I was going to add in from what you were saying, one of the other benefits about with the deluge of applications that may come, what are the benefits of using an agency like yourself, is the fact that, for some of these candidates, you know these people already

So you have known people who’ve been on your books for quite a few years, or you’ve been speaking to them already about getting roles. You’ve already had video calls and you’d already had face-to-face. So that helps, you guys can help agency owners to shortcut that relationship. Look, I’ve met this guy, I know what they’re like, I’ve actually spoken to them. They’re not just a CV that arrives via email where you’ve got you’ve got what’s on the screen to differentiate. You’ve already built a relationship with quite a few of your candidates.

Because I know from past experience that your recruiters take a personal interest and always have that discussion before you send anyone off. So that’s a massive advantage.

JH: Yeah, I wasn’t going to do too much of a pitch on Network Marketing because we’re fairly well known, but I’m dealing with people that I’ve dealt with in the ’90s. They’re MDs of agencies, they say, “I always remember when you met me at the service station on the M62 in the middle of Winter and we had an interview there for a job and I got that job and now I’m the MD of that company.” That happened at Intermarketing, for example. And so we’ve constantly, throughout that 24 years or so, done the same things and it has been face-to-face. I prefer face-to-face interviews. But I’m an absolute convert for video interviews. And I think the speed that you can set them up now will be a massive advantage.

It’s not a case of saying, okay, let’s try and coordinate three people’s diaries, get them all into the same location at the same time. If it’s a 40 minute first stage interview, for most people if you said, we’ve got 40 minutes for you this afternoon, most people would go, “Actually, I have.” And their interview’s booked, too. Had we not been in this situation it could have been next Friday before I’ve booked it, by which time the candidate might have found another job. So there’s going to be some real significant benefits to that.

Onboarding a new marketer after lockdown

We’ve moved onto the recruitment process a little bit. I don’t mind that, but in terms of recruitment process now as well, from a candidate perspective, the number of candidates are still saying to us, would still like to go into the office and just see what it’s like. And I could understand that. If you’re going to be in there two, three days a week, your working environment is quite important and candidates still haven’t let that go yet. They still want that experience of being able to get into the office and see what it’s like. And normally, that’s a very final stage. Which is what we’ve been seeing over the last three months anyway.

But yeah, just another slight change to the recruitment process that I think clients might not be aware of, but candidates will be sitting there going, “Just to seal the deal, I really would like to get into the office and see what goes on in the office on a day to day basis, even if there are half as many people as normal.” And most agencies and businesses are quite proud of their offices, I think, so it’s a worthwhile thing to do.

The next stage in the recruitment process, once we’ve got the offer and acceptance, all those sorts of things, is the onboarding process. A lot of clients have asked us how on earth we’re going to do an onboarding process. You have nobody in the office. And again, we’ve managed to get around that. I don’t think we’d have dreamt of doing a virtual onboarding process before COVID. In fact, I can honestly say I’ve never heard of it. But clients are now sending out laptops, mobile phones, and doing a remote onboarding process where [inaudible 00:24:56] a day or so, so it’s a scheduled half day or day that would normally have taken place in the office with an individual or a group of people. So all the technology is with the individual already and I guess we’re assuming that everyone’s got their own internet access and I think they probably have these days.

And then from there, there’s obviously far more video meetings with their line managers to set up the process of how they’re going to work together. And then people are left to get on with specific projects. So it’s amazing how effectively that has worked. I am genuinely amazed that clients and candidates have found that to be an effective way of doing it when previously, we’ve had start days delayed by four weeks because clients have gotten their induction day on the fourth of August and so we aren’t starting til the fourth of August. Well now, candidates can be working anywhere. They can start pretty much on any day. They can do their induction remotely. All of a sudden it opens up the speed of the recruitment process, as well. So hopefully that will be breaking down a barrier for some people that I think you might can’t recruit at the moment because we wouldn’t be able to get them through an induction process or onboarded properly.

Returning to the office or remote working?

There are people coming back to the office. I don’t know whether anybody else saw this, but I saw a really nice idea on LinkedIn today. Three different bands. One, green, I’m happy to high five, shake hands, and all that type of stuff. One blue, I’m okay to chat to people, but let’s keep our social distance, and one red, don’t really want to talk to anybody and I don’t really want to get near anyone. And that was a quite a nice idea for returning to the office. I think you’ve got plenty of space there, Richard, as we have, but if you wanted to put some sort of system in place for social distancing, as new people come into the business, then that’s not a bad way to do it. I don’t know what plans you’ve got, Richard, for your guys coming back into the office, then, and how you’re going to manage that.

RM: Yeah, it’s interesting because I think that the two things that I said to the guys are, we’re not going to come back until it’s safe. That’s the first thing, obviously, which I think hopefully we’re getting there. Things are easing up, but obviously we’re also still stop and start, so not until it’s safe. And also til it’s practical, as well. Because at the moment, both Sophie and Chris use public transport. At the moment, public transport is nigh on impossible use because on a bus you might get five or six people on. It’s just not practical I think. But I think I want to start getting the guys back in maybe a day or so a week, just to ease it a little bit because the communication’s been great. We’ve used Zoom from the beginning, having team meetings. And we get a lot of face-to-face time. But what you don’t get from the remote element of work is that, the casual discussions over you see somebody at a desk that’s struggling and I’ve got an idea. Having that spontaneity is nigh on impossible when it’s all remote. So I am looking forward to a time when we can have a bit more close time, while not fully going that way.

And I think that’s going to be interesting to see how businesses develop. And I think, because I made a note on onboarding that I was going to ask you specifically about that. Yes, you can have the onboarding via Zoom, and that stuff, but then there is that thing of, when you start a new job, you sit in the office and you go to people, “Who’s that?” How to make the coffee. The normal socializing questions that happen when you start a new job. When obviously if you’ve been onboarded on Zoom and then the day after, you basically come down to your desk or your bedroom or wherever, and there’s nobody to go, “Morning, how are you doing? Good second day.” And it’s those elements, that socializing element, of joining the team and from an agency bonus point of view, when you’re trying to build that team to carry on that and involve people, it’s quite a tricky thing. Is that anything you’ve come across with any new clients?

JH: Yeah. I think the good thing about marketing is, in a lot of cases, it’s almost project-based. So there’s a project, get on with it. I think also, people are generally are quite sociable, so video… This sort of call is easier, I think, than most people imagine to start get to know people. But you’re right. It will be a bit of a barrier until people start going back into part time or in a more full time basis. But I think everybody knows that this isn’t forever.

Whilst Coronavirus might be around forever like the flu or something in future years, at the moment, we’re in a serious position, but we’re gradually starting to come out of it. And so people know that they’re going to get back into an office environment. They’re going to get back into building those relationships. Relationships at work are critical and I, for one, massively miss my teams and engaging with them face-to-face. And the social activities that you might do at lunch time or after work. But this isn’t forever. I imagine that as-

Once we get to that watershed of September time, then the vast majority of companies will be back into the office, in some form, whether part time or full time.

How should marketers layout their CV?

RM: Excellent. Okay. So, Chris has sent in a question that this is my radio bit. Chris has sent a question, he says, “Is there an argument for designing your CV or is its content itself sufficient? You’ve seen a lot of designed CVs, a credible experience across LinkedIn.” So, what are your thoughts to those more creative CVs?

JH: Well, the first thing is, it needs to get the information across effectively. So creative CVs might be perceived to stand out, but if it takes you forever to actually find the information that you need, then it’s just not going to work. But I have seen some really nicely designed CVs. We recruit creative people, as well and people within social media are often very creative. And so those types of CVs sometimes allow you to stand out a little bit because it doesn’t just look like five bullet points plus a paragraph, five bullet points plus a paragraph.

I wouldn’t say it’s going to make a difference to whether you get the job or not. So if you feel like you want to express yourself in that way, then I haven’t got an issue with it, but don’t forget, make it easy for people to understand who you’ve worked for, what types of marketing skills you’ve got, so that if that’s what they’re looking for, they’re putting you in the pile to say give this person a call straight away. Otherwise, you’re just going to go into the pile of not really sure. It’s been a bit hard to find out what we need to find. We’ll go to the ones that are more straightforward.

Is it a recruiters market at the moment?

RM: Okay. I guess a quick question from me, from an agency side, if I’m looking to recruit, which is potentially quite likely because we’re doing okay. What would be the best approach for us? Is it a recruiter’s market? Or is it a candidate’s market at the moment? I’m guessing I kind of know the answer already, but…

JH: Well, I’ve had this discussion with quite a few clients, so one of the places we recruited for just recently was for a tech business, and it was all around lead generation. Well, if you’re good at that, the company you’re working for is not going to let you go, are they? So core skills will probably still be in short demand. And sorry, in high demand, but short supply. And when we went through the last recession, 2007, ’08, ’09, those sorts of times, that was exactly the model. So there’s a lot of people out there applying for a lot of jobs with quite generic experience. And the vast majority of briefs that we got were specific skills. So it could be, I don’t know, digital acquisition, for example. Well, that’s a niche within the digital market. And so you have to have experience in those areas and there won’t be many people that are on the market because again, if you are really good at digital acquisition, the employer you’re working for isn’t going to let you go, are they?

So it depends what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a good generalist marketing communications person that can cover a number of bases, then they may be in greater supply. But again, it’s about sifting through the ones that you are interested in and the ones that you aren’t and you are going to get deluged with a significant number of applications that you might find difficult to manage. So yeah, it’s an interesting one. There’ll be a significant supply of generalist candidates. There’ll be a very tight supply of specialist candidates.

Currently, just to add to that, we’re currently recruiting for a senior analyst role, so that sounds like quite a specialist role, which it is. And the client came to us, tried to do it themselves and the reason why they struggled was they got stacks of responses from people, but none of them had the qualifications they were looking for. And so just a case in point-

RM: I guess it’s one of those things, as well, that people sit there and assume that there are lots of people who are losing jobs. And so there will be lots of people on the market. So they expect to pick people. Obviously there are thousands of people who can do this without really thinking it through. That experience may not be available for the reasons you said.

JH: Yeah. And also, clients have to have a wide enough reach, and that’s often the biggest challenge. So again, I’m not selling recruitment too much. That’s not what I’m here for, but having done it for 24 years, the relationships go back that far, having a number of channels to advertise jobs on means we attract candidates from all sorts of different walks of life and different routes. And all of the people that we know and we can access through places like LinkedIn Recruiter that often clients don’t have. All of these things build up like a candidate ecosystem that we use to find the best people with the right skills. The vast majority of the time, I’d say more than 50%, the candidates that we place weren’t looking for jobs. So posting an advert isn’t going to get that person. So yeah, the market has changed, but the market hasn’t changed, if that makes sense.

RM: Okay. And so does Sophie, Chris, or Athul, who joined us, do you have any questions for Jonathan if you want to unmute and ask a question?

Chris: What I wanted to say more than anything, Jonathan, was that thanks for that burst of positivity earlier. That, for me, really, really positive to hear. I’m more interested in progression than almost anything else. And the fact that the working world is going, this is antiquated, we don’t need this, is incredibly positive. The only thing I would say is on that LinkedIn post you mentioned with the three coloured bands, I actually posted a comment on that which has done pretty well for me today. That green band is down right dangerous, right? Because it’s high fives and all the rest of it. I guess one of my questions, like I said, doesn’t affect me right now, I’m happily employed, but my point is, if I’m coming into a new job, and the business I’m working for is saying, “This is the system we’ve got set up,” and I view it as incredibly dangerous, that’s problematic for the candidate, isn’t it?

JH: Yeah. No, it’s a good point. I threw it in a little bit flippantly just to demonstrate the value of LinkedIn, but I think we’re a long way from high fiving everyone when we come into the office, aren’t we?

JH: It’s unusual for me because obviously I’ve been in business a long time and not shaking people’s hands when you meet them either as a business professional or even somebody who plays sport, just seems alien to me and getting used to that is quite difficult. But I wonder when that will ever come back. If we don’t manage to get control of things like the coronavirus. But yeah, that’s a good point. I’m glad you spotted that post, as well, because I think it’s been very popular on LinkedIn.

RM: Okay. Sophie, do you have anything you want to ask?

Spend the time to really craft your marketing job application

Sophie: Not necessarily ask, but it was just… It’s one of those things that you were saying about people just panic apply and it’s so easy to just one-click apply for jobs and things like that now. And I think that’s probably encouraged even more by the current situation because people will be in that, if they’ve been made redundant or if they’ve been let go because of the situation, that’s probably what they’re just going to do. And things like this, it’s going to be useful to listen to and actually get a bit of advice and more than anything you’re going to waste time doing that one click apply because like you said, you’re not going to necessarily fit the criteria that they’re asking for. So it’s going to take you longer to find the right position. So it’s just generally good advice if someone is looking for a role at the moment. Just take a step back and actually spend time reading the ad and going the extra mile to apply for the right role, rather than just any role.

JH: That’s a really good point and you’ve just reminded me about something I was going to mention. Track each app.. If you’re going to do the applications properly, track the applications, make sure that you remember who you’ve applied to and what for. Because there’s nothing worse than a company calling you up, based on an application that you’ve made and you’ve said, “I’m interested in this job. I’d like to know more about it. Please, could I have an interview?” Somebody calls you and said, “Oh, hi, I’m calling about X job that you just applied for.” And you go, “Oh, sorry, can you remind me? I’ve applied for loads today.”

I’m hearing that. I’m hearing that from people and I’m going, you know what? This hasn’t started well. And if it’s not started well it’s not likely to finish well.

JH: So you know, take it seriously. The people… I think this needs to be a two way street. If you want people to take your application seriously, then you need to make it with some conscious thought, rather than I’ll just one-click apply through LinkedIn to everything that comes into my inbox, and something will come back. Because it just won’t. So yeah, it needs to be a two-way street, really. But thanks for that, Sophie. It’s just our problem because that’s been a bugbear of mine over the last three months.

Sophie: I suppose it comes down to, as well, if you just do that one-click apply, in the application it might have said to include a cover letter and if you’re just one-click applying, you’re not going to have done that step straight away and then that proves that you haven’t really paid attention.

And just done the shortcut. Because it could actually make a difference.

RM: It’s one of the reasons to ask for a cover letter because it’s like the brown M&Ms in the thing that the rock bands rider used to have. Let’s just check, ah they’ve no brown. I’ll know they’ve not read the rest of it. So actually putting a cover letter in is a really good thing. I want a cover letter. And if you don’t put one in, you go, well you didn’t read the application, did you? So that’s fail at first hurdle.

JH: Yeah, often for me, that would come in an email. So like I said right at the beginning, if you want to stand out, yeah send it through whatever portal it says to send it through, but fire a copy over to the recruiting manager or the hiring manager, whether it’s HR or whatever, and then put the summary in there of the reasons why you think you’re suitable and why you should be considered.

Because you’ll need to find some way to make you stand out and a lot of other people won’t be doing that.

How can interns and recent graduates begin their marketing career?

RM: Okay. We’ve got one final question from Athul, who’s put it in the chat. He’s an international student who’s in the UK doing an intern at the moment, and he says, can we give him an idea on how to scale positively? So I guess from taking his time as an intern, international student, what would be an essential next set of steps, Jonathan, do you think, for somebody looking for a career in marketing?

JH: Okay. Yeah, so without knowing exactly what he’s been involved with, it’s difficult to say, but if you’ve been an intern and you’ve got some material experience. So something you can go back to, go okay, I was given these specific projects. This is what I did during those projects, and these were the outcomes, and this is how I added value to the business. Then you’ve created something that a future employer will, in inverted commas, buy. So they’ll employ you because of that. What companies are looking for is people who can hit the ground running and who can make a difference in their business.

So, you need to get your experience across as somebody who has actually added value to a business already within marketing, and then you need to find opportunities that have been advertised that require that type of skill. So there’s no point, for example, having a load of social media experience, having set up an Instagram page for a client, whatever, and then applying for an SEO role with an agency. Because they won’t make the connection, and there isn’t a connection in reality. You might have done some SEO work during your college course or university degree. You may have learnt a little bit about it, but you won’t have the hands-on experience so that when you join that company, hit the ground running. And that is what most people will be looking for now. Particularly if they can find those skills from other people if you haven’t got them.

So yeah, so I’d say, make sure that what you’re doing in your internship is adding value to the business and then make sure you get that across in the CV. And if you can get a reference from the person you did the internship with to say that Jonathan Hirst made a massive difference in our business in the short time he was here, highly recommend him for entry level roles in social media or contact management or product management or whatever it might be.

RM: Excellent. Lovely. Well, thank you. We’ve probably gone over time a little bit. So thank you very much for your time, Jonathan. And thank you very much for everyone who have been on the call. We’ve got another webinar next Friday, which is with Jem Henderson from Tech Nation. I always get that wrong. It’s Tech Nation next Friday. So we’ll be talking to her about tech stuff in Leeds and how that’s coming through coronavirus and what’s coming up. But thanks again, Jonathan. Always good to hear from you and we’ll catch up for a coffee when we can.

JH: Thank you. Good luck to everybody. Yeah. I know it’s difficult out there, but there are jobs, so remain positive and apply to those jobs that are specifically right for you and you’ll be successful.

Interested in speaking to The Optimists?

Right from the beginning of our time working with The Marketing Optimist, they’ve taken the time and effort to get to understand Sharp Consultancy as a business and not just a client. We’ve seen a huge increase in the effectiveness of our social media strategy, particularly on Linkedin and we’re delighted with the impact it’s had on the business.

Jamie Caulfield

Regional Director, Sharp Consultancy

It was a pleasure to work with The Marketing Optimist on this project. It felt like a true collaborative effort on the day and they made the interviewee's feel at ease whilst talking about their journey on our RISE programme. The final video was professional and engaging, we have received great feedback around the quality and creativity of the case study. Including the video in our presentation made it come to life, with real humans sharing their stories, so thank you to the Marketing Optimist!

Hannah Prole

Impact Manager, Better Connect Limited

Case Studies


Marketing for Local Government

Moresby Hall Hotel

Hotel Rebranding

Sharp Consultancy

B2B Social Media for recruitment

The Edit LDN

Managing advanced eCommerce SEO

Better Connect

Digital PR and video production for events

Tango Networks

Marketing support for a global telecoms business

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