Nowadays, significant career shifts are as prevalent as they've ever been. Some people want to assume a different degree of responsibility. Some want to pursue a passion they've put on hold for too long. And some flat-out need a change of pace.
It's a popular course that comes with a host of challenges, several potential pitfalls, plenty of barriers of entry, and a lot of requisite hard work — especially when it comes to transitioning to a role in marketing.
And if you're making that leap, you'll need all the help and insight you can get, so we've provided some tips and tricks to consider if you want to shift your career trajectory and become a marketer.
How to Transition to a Marketing Role
- Study, study, and study some more on your own time.
- Try to assume more marketing-oriented responsibilities within your role.
- Consider accruing external marketing experience.
- Adjust your résumé.
- Fold more marketers into your professional network.
1. Study, study, and study some more on your own time.
This one might go without saying, but you can't expect to smoothly transition into a marketing role if you have no concept of what marketing entails. One of the best ways to make your job search and ultimate career shift more viable and straightforward is to study marketing on your own.
Learn as much as possible on your time. Check out some books on the subject. Follow marketing influencers. Conduct independent research, and if you have the necessary time and motivation, complete some online courses to help bolster your marketing knowledge and relevant skillset.
Employers are rarely interested in new marketing candidates who haven't demonstrated the interest and initiative to understand the field. Plus, training new hires who are building their marketing knowledge from scratch is often a waste of time and resources.
If you want to transition to a marketing role, you need to show that you're familiar with and enthusiastic about the practice. Learning about the field on your own time is one of the best ways to do both.
2. Try to assume more marketing-oriented responsibilities
within your current role.
While using external resources like books and online courses to step up your marketing game is always a good call, accruing real marketing experience can help you stand out from other candidates and make your transition between fields even more seamless.
See if you can help with some marketing responsibilities at your current company, and make a point of legitimately pursuing and fulfilling them. That might mean helping out with tasks related to social media, email outreach, company newsletters, or any other aspects of your organization's marketing strategy that the department might need help with.
In doing so, you can string together some legitimate experience that shows potential employers (or your current company) that your interest in and aptitude for marketing isn't all talk. That kind of clout can go a long way when transitioning to a marketing role.
3. Consider accruing external marketing experience.
Sometimes assuming marketing responsibilities at your current employer isn't feasible. Your company might be perfectly satisfied with how its marketing team operates, or it could want to keep departments siloed and focused on their immediate responsibilities.
In that case, you might want to look into avenues and opportunities to supplement your current role. Try pursuing positions like part-time or unpaid digital marketing internships that can help you get your feet wet in the field.
Bear in mind that if you go this road, your current position has to remain your first priority. You don't want to undercut your professional performance by prioritizing what will essentially be a side hustle.
So naturally, this point falls squarely on you and your free time — it means putting in a lot of extra effort outside work hours. But if you're serious about making the transition to a marketing role, it's an excellent way to flesh out your résumé, refine your skillset, and offer you some much-needed clout.
4. Adjust your résumé.
As you can assume, employers trying to hire marketers aren't prioritizing candidates who only tout skills and accomplishments relevant to other areas. So if you don't have extensive experience in marketing, you'll likely need to re-tool your résumé a bit when trying to make the shift to the field.
That doesn't mean throwing every record of your professional accolades, accomplishments, and acumen by the wayside. Instead, see if you can use your experience in your current field to highlight skills that can be applied in the context of a marketing role.
For instance, if you're in sales, you could play up your strategic and critical thinking skills by discussing how you helped shape and implement a successful go-to-market sales strategy.
You might also demonstrate a knack for high-quality content creation by referencing effective pitch decks or case studies you've had a hand in. And you could tout your communication skills by pointing to your experience with responsibilities like prospect outreach or social selling.
Again, you don't have to lie about or disregard your prior experience. Just be mindful of what potential employers will be looking for. Make sure your résumé reflects the fact that you have the necessary fundamentals to be an exceptional marketer — not just a solid worker in general.
5. Fold more marketers into your professional network.
These days, a robust professional network is much more of a need-to-have than a nice-to-have — and when you're transitioning into a marketing role, one can be an invaluable asset. When you're trying to breach a new field without much experience, you need all the guidance you can get. An active network can provide that.
Try reaching out to internal marketing experts at your company to see if you can shadow them a bit. See if they'd be willing to set aside some time to provide some insight about their experiences and advice to set you on the right track. Maybe, you'll even find someone who could be interested in mentoring you.
And while you look for more immediate connections, hit LinkedIn and reach out to some external marketers to see if they'd be willing to chat and offer some advice. One way or another, communicate with experienced marketers and learn as much as you can. It can only help your case when trying to transition to a marketing role.
Switching professional gears in favor of a position in marketing is never easy. It takes a lot of effort, thought, persistence, and ambition. So if you're thinking about transitioning into this kind of role, you need to make sure you're truly in it before you start taking the necessary steps.
But if you're still set on shifting careers after considering the challenges that might come with the process, it'll be well worth the trouble. Just be sure to consider the points on this list — among others — when you start setting things in motion.