How I got my job in tech marketingFeatured
Six months ago, I started my current position as Growth Lead at Hugo, a San Francisco-based tech startup that is building a platform that centralizes meeting notes and makes them accessible to day-to-day tools. The hunt to find this job required a few steps, but they apply not only to people in growth and marketing, but to anyone looking for a position in tech.Don’t bank on only your formal educationPerhaps the worst mistake I made as I was beginning my career was thinking that I had enough knowledge about businesses and marketing to get started. A degree in business economics does very little to prepare someone to actually do well in industry. After recognizing just how little I knew, I decided to continue my education on my own. I determined that I wanted to work specifically on tech startup growth and moved out to San Francisco participated in a coding bootcamp and learned enough to communicate better with engineers, shadowed many early stage founders working on building their companies, chatted with some mid-stage founders to learn what success would look like, and figured out the latest trends in marketing. Of course, the real education began on the job. My first real, full time job helped me figure out a few key things. 1. Potential clients and customers (and even seasoned industry leaders) cringe at the term, “marketing.” Mostly, it’s because they tend to associate the word with spam and irritating communication in which they want no part. 2. Marketing is not about throwing idea-soup at a wall and hoping it sticks and starts randomly generating money. 3. You should always approach your marketing endeavor with the scientific method. Ask you question and gather your information, develop and test your hypothesis, analyze your resulting data, and determine success. 4. Don’t be afraid to be creative. For the most part (this depends on your audience), your customers don’t want to hear you drone on and on about each feature of your product. To build your brand, you should talk about the things people feel strongly about. Those feelings are what you need to recreate in their minds in connection with your product.Going to college can be very important, but you must be prepared for all the teaching you have to do for yourself. Your degree, as beautiful and pristine as it may be, is not enough.Find your differentiatorOh, you know how to use Google Analytics? You have experience with Twitter Ads? You’re Hubspot certified? That’s great! It really is, because it gives you really solid footing in technical processes. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea as you. The things you thought were setting you apart are just the bare minimum that is now expected. What can you bring to the table that’s new and unique? For me, that differentiator was to avoid marketing myself as a Jack-of-all-trades. I did need to be the Jack-of-all-trades, but I also needed to be a Master of at least one. Instead of pretending to be amazing at everything in the realm of marketing, I decided to focus on content creation, brand development, and experiment-driven marketing as I was looking for my current job. This, in addition to the fact that I specifically wanted a remote position, made it possible to narrow down all the ideal companies to a few.Don’t give up after ten applicationsEven after narrowing down to companies with potential, I faced over a hundred options that fit the bill. I’ve had so many friends and colleagues that applied to no more than three positions at a time, became extremely attached to the brands, and then became completely discouraged when they were rejected. Then by the time they reached 10 applications total, they were completely burned out emotionally.I made this mistake toward the beginning of my career, too. Then I got a little older and a little smarter. The more applications you send out, the more the laws of probability will be on your side. I found that when I applied with my own personal agenda - things I wanted to do next in my career - I found myself less attached to brands and more attached to my mission. I applied to countless companies and ended up with 12 interviews and 3 offer letters. Pick the position that will make you better, not just your resumeMy own personal agenda was to focus more on gender equity in tech, so I was looking for a company that had a product that could be branded in a way that could put this issue front and center while also generating benefits for the company itself. I also specifically wanted to work somewhere that would let me really stretch my creative muscles and do some great writing without pushing out of the numbers game entirely. Hugo, the company I work at now, had all of these things. The other two companies I had offers from were much larger and would definitely turn more heads on my resume, but they wouldn’t have helped me work toward my personal goals. Keep reflecting even after you’ve accepted the positionThe work doesn’t end once you start your position. It is important to keep looking back at that personal agenda and making sure that you are still in a position to work toward it. Today, I’m in a remote position at the company that gives me complete creative freedom and am currently working on a Gender Equity in Tech campaign that lets me work on exactly the kind of messaging that I intended to.Luckily, I made a pretty good decision, but that won’t always be the case. Women, in particular, need to become better at saying “no” when they don’t get what they are promised. My hope is that fewer of us will find it necessary to stay where we are rather than find something where we are a better fit.Swati is a writer, digital strategist, and brand enthusiast. She is currently the Growth Lead at Hugo and is also passionate about gender equity in tech, abolishing the phrase, “marketing bullshit,” and making startup growth strategies accessible to all entrepreneurs. She consults pro-bono for small businesses and nonprofits and writes about things that matter (and things that don’t) in her free time.