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Marketing skills- what do you actually need?

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Scrolling through job descriptions and backing out after a certain bullet point puts you off, must seem a staple of the job hunt.

One of the most traditional pre-requisites for any job role (especially) in marketing is ‘must have previous experience in x industry’ whether it’s product, FMCG, retail, etc for example.

This simple so-called ‘requirement’ often acts a massive turn-off for a perfectly adequate candidate, a requirement I don’t think is always entirely necessary. I’m going to look at why you should go for roles you like, which don’t always perfectly match up to your skill set, how to broadcast this to recruiters/employers and how to take things further.


You find a Marketing Manager role for a multi-channel retailer who is looking to expand their operations across the UK, the job specification reads:

‘MUST have 1-2 years previous experience working in traditional retail’

You’re a candidate with a few years of previous marketing experience, a CIM qualification and your last role was at a big E-tail business. So would ‘1-2 years previous experience working in traditional retail’ be an immediate switch off?

Well a savvy candidate could pick up the Client is a ‘multi-channel retailer’ and that E-tail falls into the ‘multi-channel’ arm. Using aptitude and autonomy in the application process will stand out. A drive to learn new skills and channels will also count heavily in your favour, providing you showcase this at interview stage. Keep in mind your skills and history won’t be useful every time, but typical universally sought skills include communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. Excellent interpersonal skills are another favoured trait and it’s worth keeping in mind you can always improve these.

List your transferable and applicable skills prominently on your CV. In your cover letters, take the next step by explaining how your skills apply to the job you’re pursuing, why and how you plan on selling these.

Alternatively, an effective way to sell the qualifications you do have while obscuring the ones you don’t is to use a two-column format in which you quote in the left-hand column specific qualifications that come right from the employer’s job posting and in the right-hand column, your attributes that meet those qualifications. The format clearly demonstrates that you are qualified in so many areas that the employer may overlook the areas in which you lack the exact qualifications.

My primary advice would be to not be put off by the stone wall of job specifications, if you believe you have the skills and drive for a role, it’s always worth chancing your arm and explaining why you could be a good culture fit for that culture.