So you want to work in marketing, and get hired here in Vietnam? This article offers some tips that might help you in your job hunt. The marketing industry in Vietnam includes thousands of different companies, each with their own perspective. We don’t pretend to speak for all of them, but we do have some experience with finding and hiring talent. We’ll share some of what we’ve learned here.
Do your research
It might amaze you to know how few people do any background research about the agency to which they are applying. If you want to get hired, you should approach your job application and interview in the same way you’d approach any marketing project that you might work on: do your research first.
Some of the key things you should find out before you ever write your cover letter:
- What projects has the agency worked on that particularly impressed you?
- Who are the agency’s key clients?
- What is the agency’s mission, and what are its values?
Doing this basic research will put you in a position to prepare a relevant CV and application, but more importantly, it will help you understand if the agency is really for you. By learning about the agency’s projects, you’ll come to see if it’s the type of work that suits you. By learning about the agency’s mission and values, you’ll find out if it’s a cultural fit for you, or not. Some agencies don’t differentiate their clients, while others have strong values that prohibit them from certain types of projects that don’t align with their philosophy.
In short, you should already know what type of person you are and what you care about, so that you can then discover if the agency is actually right for you. Then, when you prepare your application and have your interview, you’ll be able to speak very specifically about what attracted you to the agency. Specifics matter.
Customize your CV
Craft a CV that speaks to the position you’re applying for. If this sounds obvious to you, then you are already well ahead of your competition, because you’d be surprised how few applicants do this. More doesn’t always mean better. Go through your work history and include achievements that are relevant to the position that you are applying for in the agency. If you’re applying to be an account manager, use your CV to show off specific management tasks you’ve handled in the past. A good general rule of thumb for preparing your work history on a CV is to show specific achievements with numbers, timelines, and results.
Leave out the meaningless designs
It’s all the rage in Vietnam these days to include a set of scales that show, from 1-10, how good the candidate is at a certain skill (i.e., Photoshop, 7.5 out of 10). Often these are illustrated with neat little bar graphs and icons—oh, is that a tiny picture of a camera? A document with a pencil beside it? How illustrative.
Please, don’t do this. Our agency stops reading a CV as soon as we see a skill ranking like this. Why don’t we like these? It’s simple: these estimates aren’t based on anything concrete, and add little to no information to the application. After all, what really is the difference between a self-assessed score of 8.5 at “time management” and a score of 7? What’s more, these graphs and scales are a lazy cliché—not a great sign when you’re looking to hire for a creative position. Instead, spend the time you would designing those little bars and icons on something more meaningful, like an extra few minutes reading about past clients at your target agency.
Build a killer creative portfolio
One of the most important parts of applying to an agency is the creative portfolio. If you’re not a graphic designer, you may be asking yourself: so what can I put in my portfolio? Indeed, graphic designers and videographers have the clearest task when it comes to building a portfolio. But copywriters, account managers, and producers still should put together portfolios that highlight projects they’ve worked on, and showcase what exactly they did on the project. Even if you aren’t a designer, don’t be afraid to include images in your portfolio.
Also, keep your portfolio tight. Many people submit portfolios that are dozens and dozens of pages long. This is fine if you have that much work that you really want to share, but most people don’t, and if you’ve been in the industry for a few years we definitely don’t need to see your student projects. Better is to submit a brief, tight portfolio with only your best work that showcases areas where you shine.
Update your social media profiles
You can bet that as soon as your resume hits their desk, the agency’s hiring manager will be checking your social media. After all, you’re applying for a marketing job, and it’s 2022. Although it would be nice if we could go back to the quaint days where our social media presence didn’t play a role in hiring, it’s important to be realistic. Your social media profile is as important as your resume, and sometimes it can be more important. It almost doubles as a second creative portfolio.
Your social media profiles may just be about your personal life, and that’s fine. But, your online presence also tells a lot about who you are as a content creator. How do you go about taking photos and writing copy? What do you choose to publish? How does it all fit together? Does it tell a story?
You won’t be able to reinvent your social media account overnight, so don’t try. But do be aware that it will get scrutinized as part of the hiring process, and so you want to put your best foot forward. If you’re applying to an agency but your social media is disorganized and shows no sense of aesthetics, it could end up being a negative.
If selected for an initial screening, treat it like an interview
So your application has been received, and the agency that you want to work at has scheduled you for a brief phone interview. Is it the CEO calling you? Nope. Is it the Creative Director? Still no. It may be a hiring manager, or even an administrative assistant, calling with set questions.
No matter who is on the other end of that phone, talk to them as you would a Creative Director in an in-person interview. If you come across as rude, or as too busy to spend time answering questions asked by someone unimportant, then you can bet that the actual decision makers will hear about it. Agencies are little families, and a good boss will react poorly to someone who treats their team disrespectfully. Don’t be that person.
If selected for an in-person interview, arrive on time
It’s that simple. But doing this will already put you ahead of some of your competitors.
Dress to impress, by being yourself
Not every marketing or creative agency is the same, and some are certainly more conservative than others. But we can safely say that not wearing a suit to an interview is never a dealbreaker. Remember that your outfit is the first impression of yourself that you will give, and you want that impression to be an accurate one. Don’t be afraid to show who you are in your style choices, while remembering to keep the job you are applying for in mind.
A final word
The advice above isn’t complicated, and it requires little more than a small investment of your time in research, and then customizing your application materials. But it also shows off many of the skills that hiring managers are looking for—attention to detail, consideration of the audience, and thoughtful decision making. If you can demonstrate that, then any agency would be lucky to have you. Good luck!