WHAT IS MARKETING?
No organization can grow or likely even survive without marketing, and this is likewise true for an individual seeking out marketing jobs. Marketing makes known a firm's features and benefits and what it's going to cost someone to get them or use them, and it does the same for products, services, and those people who want a marketing career.
First things first: marketing and selling are two entirely different things. Yes, they overlap, but marketing is larger in scope than sales, and marketing is far more about attracting others to contact you than it is about aggressively making first contact and then trying to convince someone as fast and firmly as possible of your take on things. You want to advertise the fact that you possess desirable traits for an employer; you don't want to talk your way into getting hired. There is a time and place to sell yourself - at the interview.
Begin by knowing exactly what you want in your marketing career, so you know what marketing jobs to target. Where have you come from? Where do you want to be positioned in the near term and in the long term? How are you going to get from here to there? Some people find it very useful to use a marketing tool called the SWOT analysis: write down and organize your Strengths and Weaknesses, and then the Opportunities and the Threats to your successful future. Strengths may be a great education or solid work experience; Weaknesses may be a lack of some particular experience or a character flaw that has plagued your work efforts in the past. Opportunities may be an upward hiring trend in your field; Threats may be a downward trend (note: marketing jobs and hiring trends tend to be recession-proof, because it's something that is always needed).
You should also begin focusing your attention to these details with a personal mission statement. This should be succinct, one or two sentences long, and get straight to the point.
Next, do some research about marketing jobs. Are there any particular kinds that you feel you would like more or be better at than others? For instance; Do you feel you would you prefer "inside marketing" or "outside marketing"? Use websites such as MarketingCrossing to find out what the different subdivisions are in marketing careers, what they entail, how much they pay on average, and what it's like trying to advance a marketing career in each.
Once you have all that squared away, it's time to apply another core marketing concept: the four Ps: product, promotion, place, and price.
You are the product. You are what is being marketed and sold here. Your set of skills, your professional experiences (if any), your education, your character, your core competency, your ambition, are all part of this product that is You. To market You successfully, you need to compete. Thus, what is your edge? Where do you have competitive advantages over others, or feature powerful abilities that are surely desirable? Once you know them, research to find employers looking to hire on your competitive advantages; if one company wants someone with a certain educational background for an entry-level job with great future advancement potential and you have that but, you don't have much previous experience that another company wants, you should market yourself to the former. You have an advantage there.
Promotion is the way you write your cover letters, put together your resume, the way you approach telephoning or e-mailing to set up interviews, the way you dress for and conduct yourself at interviews, and so on. Remember: don't be self-centered, but do be shameless. You should uncover tips and templates for all these things from others who are already successful at getting jobs or helping others get jobs.
Place is your distribution channel—a set of people who will help you distribute your product: You. Cold calls, "cold" e-mails, networking, going to job fairs or employment agencies, posting your resume on relevant Internet sites, and so on defines the place where you do your marketing.
Price. Not yours—the potential employer's. How much are they offering, and what, if any, are the other benefits such as health coverage? What are the job's "perks"? Are the hours great? One thing to keep in mind: if it is at all possible, avoid places that demand you tell them how much you're seeking to earn from the job. This is usually trickery to see how low they can go with offers to very similar desirable candidates. You might have to try out a few of these places but always make your first choices those employers who are transparent about what their pay range is.
Marketing yourself to get into a marketing career is not only great practice for you; it's the best way for you to make yourself known to potential employers and get yourself out there.