A Guide to finding a Marketing/Advertising Job in Canada

There are a lot of great guides and discussions on landing a Marketing/Advertising job, switching industries, finding the best type of job. I felt there’s a gap in guides for new graduates and/or recent immigrants with experience.

I have two goals here:

  1. Help recent graduates from university/college programs with 0 experience in the marketing/advertising industry
  2. Help international students/ new immigrants who have moved to Canada and lack “Canadian Experience” but have some experience from their home country.

I developed this guide after talking to hundreds of students and having had to apply for a jobs when I graduated. I tweet about this mostly so consider following me on there too

Start Here

Whether you are breaking into the marketing/advertising industry or making a switch in your career, below are areas you need to evaluate first to make your transition easier.

Role / Position 💻

Start by figuring out what type of role you want to pursue. Various roles tend to “require” similar experience levels, but there is no perfect guideline and you shouldn’t feel confined to one either.

One year’s experience as a Customer service associate? Ok, you’re not going to jump into a Marketing Manager role for your second gig. Be realistic, and don’t put yourself in a position to fail. If you try to jump too far ahead, you will be extremely frustrated and stressed out. At the same time, I believe you should go big or go home… it’s a catch-22, a balance of realism and optimism.

I highly recommend getting some sort of marketing experience. Learning and getting certified on most major digital marketing platforms (Google, Facebook, Amazon, The Trade Desk) will pay dividends down the road. But also running your own campaigns, use free Google/Facebook credits to start off. I circumvented the initial “entry-level” coordinator job and jumping to specialist/planner level by simply doing freelance work for SMB’s when I was in school. It makes it easier to get hired if you have real implementation experience.

Startup vs Corporate 🏭

There are pros and cons to each. Use your judgment and do your homework. This is a very important part of your decision-making process.
I would try start at a company with at least over 100+ people to create some credibility. Or find a start-up that has a healthy amount of funding. Personally, I found the best spot to learn the most, make the most money, and with decent career progression to be companies with revenues of $100M-$1B.

Industry 📈

Agency jobs or CPG seem to be one of the most popular industries amongst the demographic I talk to. This was a tough one for me. I wanted to work in an industry that is challenging, with learning opportunities, and will continue to grow that also pays well. (I work for a news publisher that is now digital-first, there is a lot of tech transformation in this space) Of equal importance, I also wanted to market a product I could be passionate about.

Resume📃

There are lots of guides for Resume writing, there’s no “right way” of doing this. It’s whatever works for you, the below format should work for most marketing/advertising jobs. Except for creatives – my experience is limited but your design should be reflected on your resume. If you have the budget, spend $150-$300 and hire a professional resume writer to clean your resume for you. Make sure you ask a friend, professor, industry professional for resume feedback.

  • Your Name and Contact Information on the top (you could include your city too)
  • Short descriptions of skills. What’s your level of skill in using the following software? Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch, and/or After Effects? Include any other software you feel comfortable using.
  • When listing your work experience on your resume, it’s important to include quantifiable results. Rather than saying “Helped the sales team reach their quota,” you should say “Achieved a 15% increase in monthly sales.
  • Make sure you’re tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a job in marketing, but you’ve never worked in marketing before, you need to highlight your skills that would be relevant to marketing, in addition to your experience.
  • Education is a really important part of your brand. It’s important to include all relevant courses, projects, and other things that you’ve worked on. Make sure that you are also including your GPA and any relevant awards that you’ve won
  • Short descriptions of skills. What’s your level of skill in using the following software? Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch, and/or After Effects? Include any other software you feel comfortable using.

Resume Tools🛠

Download a template of my resume by clicking HERE
Use Canva’s Resume Builder – for Fancy looking Resumes
Build your resume using Linkedin

Linkedin Profile and Hunting🧨

Linkedin is hands down the most powerful tool in anyone’s job search today. I wouldn’t be where I am professionally if it wasn’t for Linkedin’s power to network, gather information about industries and companies, and convey my value as a candidate on a broad scale

Make the most of your LinkedIn headline🔝

Don’t just leave it at the default “Position and Company Name or Student at College”. You’re wasting precious real estate. Use this section to showcase your “so what?”. Why should someone stop and look further into your profile?

Example: “Sales professional with a quota-crushing track record. Batting 1000 bitches.”

For anyone with existing experience or Co-op/Internships Notice Title⭐

Add Keywords to your job title:

This field is highly indexed and can help recruiters find you. “Marketing Professional” can be a bit vague. Add in a little extra description if you want to be more specific on targeting your desired industry or job. “Marketing Manager – Automotive OEMs”

Tell a story

A big difference between your resume and LinkedIn is you should integrate your personality into your LinkedIn profile. I found it helpful to tell my story in this section. Your passion for Marketing/Advertising/Tech and your desired industry is clearly communicated. Also, try to highlight your greatest accomplishments. Show how you’ve grown in your career and taken on bigger challenges.

Example: Led the internship program for new incoming interns.

Use numbers and case studies that prove success:🔢

If you have experience, then you should have metrics in your resume. Incorporate those into your LinkedIn profile too! List them as bullets in the Experience section of your profile. Start off with a short paragraph about what you do in your role and how you set yourself up for success. Then list brag bullets. (Increased traffic by 200% and decreased CPA by 20%)

Final Tips🕶

  1. Get rid of the buzzwords
  2. Grow your connections. Don’t add people you don’t know, but work on getting to 500 connections.
  3. Please do not write your profile in 3rd person.

Portfolio Building🎨

What makes a good portfolio➕

Your portfolio site should be the place where people go to see the things you’ve actually done. You can include a link to your Behance account or your Dribbble account but you should only include the work that you’re proud of. Your portfolio should show three things

  1. Writing well: I’ve found that strong writing skills are really important for every marketing job. Whether you’re writing a blog post or creating a campaign, you’re telling a story and it’s that story that will appeal to people and get you results.
  2. Designing well: It’s important to understand the basics of design. If you are a designer, then you need to understand your own design principles, like the golden ratio, and how to use design to communicate with your audience.
  3. Thinking well: the ability to think strategically and to think clearly. Success in a marketing career hinges on your ability to think creatively and to think analytically.

Portfolio Building Tools🏹

Make sure you buy your domain name, don’t host your site on sites like yourname.wordpress.com etc… You will come across as unprofessional. It’s worth spending under $10 per month to have a proper site with your own domain, especially when looking for a job.

WordPress (my site is built on a self-hosted WordPress on Google Cloud Platform – costs about $10 per year)
Squarespace: Good Templates for portfolio sites
Wix: Good Templates for portfolio sites
Dribbble: Great for designers and creatives (also free)
Behance: Great for designers and creatives (also free)

Have you benefited from this guide so far? Consider sharing and spreading the word

Networking Resources🕸

I touched on this earlier in that if you are doing your job as someone who wants to get into marketing, you should ideally have a network of people you know in the industry, from meeting them at marketing events, case competitions, workshops, conferences etc… I can’t emphasize how important this is to your career.

For Students: If you’re still in school. Ask your professors and other professors whose expertise touches on marketing/advertising and ask for their advice on how you should prepare for a career in marketing/advertising. If you do this correctly, they will be flattered that you consider them an expert on the subject and will sometimes scour the faculty and their entire database for every connection you have. If you were involved in case competitions, workshops and other things, you should have a solid database of people to reach out to.

Also volunteer in as many industry events/organizations that you can get your hands on. I still get involved after graduating, even though I personally don’t need to hear someone else talk about marketing again! It’s a great way to meet and interact with people, that’s where those events and organizations shine. I have always benefited from post event networking vs. listening to someone speak for hours.

General stuff that helped me: Always treat everyone with respect and even if they aren’t the easiest to deal with, silence is the best solution. You never know when your paths may cross.

Communities😎

Toronto AdOps and Digital Marketing
Media Buyers/Planners of Toronto, Ontario
Media Sales Reps – Toronto ON & Montreal QC
Toronto Digital Marketing Jobs
Toronto Employment + Entrepreneurial Zone
TechTO (MarketingTO): This is a paid community
DesignX: Focused on creatives

Industry Associations🎩

Industry associations are great ways to get involved in the advertising and marketing industry. In fact, many associations have volunteer opportunities for students and young professionals, so if you’re just getting started, I recommend getting involved early. This way you can build your network and gain valuable experience and knowledge to help you in your career. In an effort to help students and new grads, they have events that are specifically focused on helping those in their network.

IAB Canada: Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada
AMA Toronto: American Marketing Association Toronto Chapter
CMA: Canadian Marketing Association
MRIA: Marketing Research and Intelligence Association
Ad Club of Toronto: They have a good event for Students

The Application Funnel and Cold Emailing 📧

The hardest job to get is your first job, six months before I graduated, I started thinking about where I wanted to work, was it agency side? Client side? So I did what I think everyone else did, clean my resume, update my linkedin, portfolio and write up a good cover letter. I started applying for jobs on Linkedin, Indeed, etc… I must have applied to 100+ jobs and I received 0 replies from just applying. A month later, I revised my strategy. Suddenly, I had 5-6 interviews, ranging from large holdco agencies, CPG, Start ups, Media companies.

The Application Tracking Sheet🚨

When you start looking for a job, track everything you do for three reasons
1. Accountability: Having a list lets you track your progress and let you know how much your strategy is working. If you drop off too much at a certain stage you need to improve at that specific stage.
2. Follow-ups: Applying and forgetting doesn’t work anymore, you need to make sure you reach out to your contacts to ensure your message actually reaches them.
3. Action Items: So you heard back from multiple contacts, you need to create a next step strategy and record that.

  1. Find a job at a company you want to work at
  2. Do you qualify (even if you qualify 50% of the time, most companies inflate the requirement but it’s hard to find a unicorn)
  3. Apply for the job online.
  4. By reading the job title and description, use Linkedin advanced searching to see who your manager would be (for a specialist they would report to a manager or director)
  5. Find the manager on Linkedin: do not add them on Linkedin.
  6. Use their first and last name to guess their email using Hunter.io
  7. Send them the cold email in the next step. (Use a tool like Mailtrack to check if they got the email)
  8. Follow up and do this for every role you applied for.

Good way to land a dream tech job👩‍💻

Send an excellent email to a VC / angel investor on why you want to work at an X portfolio company. Investors:
1. typically have more time than founders
2. genuinely want to add value
3. are 1-to-many (can intro you to 5+ companies)
Source

Cold Email Template 📨

I have used multiple variations of the below template, hundreds of times. I have personally had a success rate of over 70% which is pretty good in my books. But make sure you customize the cold email to the person you are writing to, and the type of job you are applying for. Check out how a hedge fund manager communicates with his executives, quite interesing.

✅What you want and why the company you are applying for interests you

✅What Value you provide the company, talk about what you did that can help them for that role. Make sure you include social proof.

💡 Suggest an idea (something small), likely try incorporate something new such as a new tool, platform etc… Do not suggest things that don’t make sense. You’d rather not suggest anything than suggest something useless.

✅Go for the close, by suggesting what you want them to do. Don’t ask for a meet, get them to read your resume. If you are really qualified, they will reach out obviously (or ask for the first chat on your follow-up email). Psychology technique called Foot-in-the-Door

 Hello [Hiring Manager],

 I love the work and mission at XYZ. I am greatly interested in the role of [relevant role] at [Company Name]. The key piece that drove me towards the role is the deep admiration I hold for [product name, company name, etc..], I have always read the [news releases, reports, etc…] to learn about the company's business strategy, culture, and vision.
 
 My experience is related to [put relevant experience] creating content marketing strategies and inbound marketing efforts, [what you did] where I developed unique ways to generate leads and qualify those leads in the right way. I’ve scaled these efforts at companies like [insert social proof]
 
 Have you considered optimizing [xxx] by running a shorter form. [Any idea that makes sense for the company]
 
Please see my resume attached for the role, [One line about who you are]
 
 I hope we can discuss my qualifications further.
 
 Sincerely,
 
[Your Name]

Advice from Twitter when looking for a job👨‍🦳

Mistakes in picking companies to join.
For talented people, such mistakes can be costly.
Here what I’d tell my younger self:

Join a company with
1) the highest caliber people you can find
2) a high growth rate
3) in a large market that is itself growing
Source

Interviews😃

Interviews are like marketing campaigns — no one interview is going to be identical to another. The fundamentals will often be the same, but you’ll interact with different personalities and styles of interviewers. Focus on what you can control. That is what I want to emphasize below. I’ll go into some specific examples as well, so you can understand the thought process behind them.

An interview is an opportunity to sell yourself. Expect objections, and prove that you can think on the fly and overcome those objections. The more prepared you are the better. You can’t anticipate everything, nor should you. Focus on the following themes, and be prepared to interview the interviewer.

  1. Why do I want to work for this specific company?
    • Study the industry inside out
    • Find those “nuggets” that make you stand out from the competition
    • Go nuts in studying everything about the company, what accounts they have etc…
  2. What value can I bring to the table?
    • Know your resume inside out
    • Tout all your relevant experience
    • Show that you know what is expected of the role to some level
  3. Why would I be a good fit?
    • Talk about your soft skills and show your confidence
    • Demonstrate that you have the things they are looking for in a candidate
    • Confidence is killer. ABC – Always be confident.

Use the S.T.A.R method when answering any questions.
Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

Above Average Interviewing📈📈📈

If you want to stand out in an interview, you need to do your homework. My top three recommendations are:
1. Contact current marketing/department level folks who would likely be a colleague at the company and ask them questions. I’ve only had positive results from doing this.

Hey XYZ, 
Hoping we can connect.
I have an interview with a manager for XYZ and wanted to get your thoughts on the position, what you think of it, and maybe some advice on working at Awesome Company?

Sincerly,

Your Name

2. Ask unique non-cookie cutter questions that demonstrate true passion and interest.
If you can get an answer to your question by Googling the company, that’s a bad question. Always ask questions that show real interest in the position and company.

3. ABC- Always be closing
“What are the next steps in the interview process and when can I expect to hear from you?” OR
“Based on our conversation today, do you see any reason why you would not want to proceed and hire me?”

Now, be prepared for objections or evasive answers. Don’t follow up too hard that it becomes annoying, but be firm and consistent.

Salaries and Negotiations

Negotiations

Don’t ever get into salary negotiation until you know you are the candidate they want or you risk commoditizing yourself) and they have made a offer

“I appreciate the offer, and I’m excited at being able to deliver x benefit to your organization. Setting aside dollars momentarily, your company is my first choice for x y and z reasons. However, my research/other offers I have indicate that the market rate for this role is x, so it looks like we have a gap between your offer and what the market dictates my skill set is worth-I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can bridge the gap”.

After the above statement, Don’t say a word till they respond no matter how long that silence is. See what they say and negotiate from there. Also, even if their offer exceeds your expectation, negotiate for something-cell phone allowance, WFH, extra vacation. Something.

Never take the first offer, always get something because they will never love you more than they do now.

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