Malaysian marketers dish out tips to newbies looking to land marketing jobs

Onboarding talent is always a crucial aspect for every company, especially in the marketing and advertising industry where leaders are faced with the challenge of talent shortage. In Malaysia, the demand for marketing talent saw a 14% annual growth from 56 in 2018 to 64 this year. With fresh graduates in Malaysia on the hunt for jobs and preparing themselves to enter the workforce for the first time, LinkedIn, earlier in the year dished out some tips:

1. Establish a digital presence that reflects who you are

Fresh graduates should ask themselves what drove them to pursue the degree and what are they “in it” for, said LinkedIn. Knowing these answers is crucial to finding the right job. When creating a job profile, fresh graduates should use the summary section to share a little bit more about themselves and the skills, learnings and experiences that make them unique. According to LinkedIn, candidates’ job profiles create a good opportunity to make them stand out and it is one of the top things recruiters on LinkedIn look at.

Meanwhile, Jack Wong, head of digital and consumer brands, Celcom Axiata told A+M that he spends at least an hour a day on the platform and says for the new generation, they should have their content strategy and planning in place to ensure they are projecting the right image to the right people on the right platform.

“I’ve often seen them a mix between pleasure and work,” Wong said. He added:

Also, to be seen, be creative and maximise the real estate on every platform such as the headline on LinkedIn.

2. Look beyond your degree or qualification

While a degree can take individuals to places, it does not dictate one’s career path. Fresh graduates should bear in mind what is most important to them and find it. Their degree or qualification could open up opportunities to land a variety of types of jobs beyond their major. And learning doesn’t stop at graduation.

Mohamed Adam Wee, group CMO, CIMB Group said when hiring fresh graduates without a marketing or advertising character, he looks at other traits such as character, confidence, creativity and entrepreneurial thinking.

“Certification from notable platforms such as Google and Facebook on digital marketing would also help. These traits would equip the individual with a strong foundation to start an exciting journey in marketing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Abbott Malaysia’s marketing director Lee Lim Meng said it is important for fresh graduates to be curious, explore and have passion in everything they do. “Be obsessed with your consumer. If it is an important lever, move walls to make it happen,” Lee said. She added:

Most importantly, find purpose in everything you do and own it.

According to Lee, her concept of marketing back in school was to sell dreams and solutions and it “had no rules”, which made it fun. While it is still fun, marketing in real life requires plenty of hard work such as coordination, attention to details on executions, data aggregation and mining, and it is not always sexy.

“It definitely has rules for good reason, to make sure that fun can be measured and is practical. Having said that it is about working around constraints and not letting constraints, constrain you. In today’s world, marketing can be very complex, it is not linear, and it is important for us to learn how to simplify,” she explained.

3. Explore jobs

LinkedIn claims that its job search filters can help to narrow one’s search by industry, function and experience, and then use the open search box to add key phrases to find the right job. Instant Job Notifications and Job Title Highlights can also be an effective way for fresh graduates to hunt for jobs.

For those who are unsure which industry they wish to land when it comes to marketing, Juliana Chua, general manager – marketing, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur said the best place to venture and to discover their true passion would be to work in an agency field or a shopping mall. She explained to A+M that agencies and shopping malls provide the talent a platform to discover many different product categories and able expose themselves to many different brand architecture. Its generic enough to have a taste of everything as well as building their network for the future, Chua added.

“In my experience, marketing is generally a combination of common sense and being resourceful. It’s not just about being digitally-savvy but having a can-do attitude which will in turn make them discover all the right media touch-point and execution method that would be relevant to the business they are in,” she said. Chua added:

I believe the attitude in a work space is the most important commodity today and tomorrow.

4. Connect with people in your network who can help

Fresh graduates are urged to take a look at primary communities to see if they have any connections who work at companies that interest them. These professionals can be key in helping them find and land the job they want. LinkedIn claims that professionals on their platform stand four times more likely to get a call from a recruiter and nine times more likely to get hired, when they’ve been referred by a connection than if they apply without a referral.

Networking is key for fresh graduates and Timothy Johnson, SVP, marketing, products and partnerships, INTI International University & Colleges, said the must invest in it meaningfully. In addition to developing their competencies, they must take the time to attend industry events and meet as many people as possible.

It is important for fresh graduates to be bold and respectful when meeting senior individuals, Johnson said, adding that most senior leaders are happy to strike up conversations and share a thing or two about making it in the industry. He explained:

Leaders are always looking for good talent and starting up a conversation demonstrates being proactive.

When striking up a conversation with key industry leaders, it is also important for them to be prepared with the relevant knowledge about the industry and trends. If graduates are hoping to continue conversations later on, make sure to follow up with these leaders or their offices. This demonstrates the willingness and sincerity to learn, Johnson said.

“Also graduates should be willing to stay on a little later after work. While many young professionals may perceive this as taking away from ‘me-time’, chances are their immediate leaders and senior managers will be in their offices, catching up on emails and taking the time to wind down,” he said. Johnson explained that this is a great time to build relationships in a less formal manner and often opens doors for new ideas or projects.

5. Make a good impression

Getting to know more about the company they wish to be part of can guide fresh graduates on what it takes to get hired and succeed there, LinkedIn said.

Meanwhile, KFC Malaysia’s CMO Angelina Villanueva said candidates are on a home run if they have good school records, good communication skills and a great personality to boot.

“Short of these, making sure you have the basics covered will set you apart, as surprisingly not many people bother to do. Do your homework about the job and company, and be prepared with proof points, especially on standard interview questions about yourself,” she added. Nonetheless, Villanueva said:

While selling yourself, be wary of the fine line between confidence and arrogance. Humility wins.

According to her, the key to finding a good fresh graduate hire is the fit. They need to know what they are in for and if it matches their interests.

“I feel there are not enough opportunities and forums for fresh graduates or students to be exposed to the different jobs and industries available. While we hiring managers get to interview plenty of candidates and criticise, graduates’ interview experiences are limited, resulting in the wrong fit as they might choose jobs which do not interest them,” she said.

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