Like anyone my age, there are things I would’ve approached differently in my 20s that would’ve accelerated my career progression. I wouldn’t say they’re regrets but if I woke up in my mid-20s, there are plenty of things I’d do differently this second go.
After a few years as a newspaper reporter, I purposefully shifted my career to marketing. My first role involved churning out bad SEO copy about legacy datacenter hardware for the sister company of a tiny marketing agency. The only career trajectory I know is agency to inhouse, but I think this is all universal.
As a 38-year-old marketer, here’s what I’d make sure to do in my first job in tech:
Learn sales talk
My first agency job gave me a lot of leeway to try out different technologies and get hands-on experience with anything from Adwords to CRM deployments. Aside from that, the best part was it was owned and run by a former used car salesman who was laser-focused on hitting targets. At a sales-heavy company, I was inundated with sales jargon I might’ve been silo’d from at a larger company.
Before you even interview, you should be familiar acronyms like:
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
- KPI (Key Performance Indicator)
- CX (Customer Experience)
- MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead)
- SQL (Sales Qualified Lead)
- NPS (Net Promoter Score)
If you’re asked what an NPS is, you should be able to explain what it is and why it’s important.
Salespeople can be wary of marketers. Don’t give them the wrong idea. You’re here to increase sales just like they are. Make sure they know you’re not just using your job as a creative outlet. That’s not marketing.
Learn the industry
Before you accept an offer, you should make sure the company is in an industry that’s headed in a positive direction. At the same time, I started my marketing career during the Great Recession and I think pickings will be even slimmer for new grads today than they were for me unfortunately. I hope I’m wrong.
So maybe you need to take a job in a floundering industry. While you gain experience, research other markets to plan your next move. If something interests you, learn all you can about it so you can ace your interviews when you’re ready to move on.
Learn the technology
Just like sales, it’s important for you to effectively communicate with engineers. You’ll need to build a rapport with them. You can’t do this without trying to learn the technology. You don’t need to be a power user, but you should at least be able to carry conversations.
If you’re new in an unfamiliar industry, everything might seem new and daunting. Immerse yourself in it. Go to webinars. Participate in online forums. Try out the software yourself. If you can run it on your computer, ask for a license so you can play with it.
Just like salespeople, engineers can be wary of marketers because of misconceptions. Make it clear you care about the technology. Seek out their guidance. There may be marketing messages that they’re critical of; they just weren’t asked.
You don’t need to implement Marketo integrated with SFDC with 500,000 contacts your first day, but you should have a general idea of how systems work and how they interact with each other. It’s not as complicated as it seems once you wrap your head around it.
This will help you better communicate issues with information technology. IT departments are so overwhelmed they’ll appreciate you breaking down issues as clearly as possible. They have lots of on their plates. Anything you can do to make things easier will be appreciated.