Laurence Shatkin, PhD, has been a writer and researcher in the field of career and education information for 35 years. He's a well known career expert, and he has written and co-written more than two dozen books about careers, and several books on choosing a field of study. His publications include 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality, 200 Best Jobs for Introverts, and 150 Best Jobs for Your Skills. His latest book, Choose Your College Major in a Day, helps college applicants determine their personality type by administering an assessment, then identifies majors for each type.
Great marketers aren't born, they're made. The question is, What characteristics and skills do you need to become a great marketer? And do marketers need to continue their education through training or certification? What skills do marketers have that might transfer well to other careers?
I invited Laurence to Marketing Smarts to discuss marketing as a career, what makes someone well suited to a career in marketing, how applicants for marketing programs can brand themselves for success, and what skills marketers have that could serve them well in any number of different careers.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
Marketing careers come in many different flavors (04:54): "Marketing is something that people can come to from a lot of different directions. One of the things I do in the book is to show the different career paths that people can go into based on the different majors. For example, in marketing you might go more into communications. You might go more into product development. You might do more of the marketing research or the management of marketing research efforts. In each major, there are several specializations that one could go into."
Marketers need to study more than just marketing (05:56): "If you're interested in business in general...[that] would be a useful sign. Communications would be important with almost anything you'd do in [marketing]. If you have a technical interest in math and science, you might be considering the research aspects of that.... Even if you don't specialize in the research, it's something that you really need to study.
"One of the things I've noticed in almost every career is that people study a lot more math than they actually end up using. Part of the reason you do that is in order to understand what the researchers are telling you. If people present you with statistics, everybody knows that statistics sometimes can lie in the way they're presented. So you need to know some of that even if you're not going not that particular branch of marketing.... And psychology is something you should study, because marketing is about meeting people's needs and what people want, so you should have some understanding of what makes people tick."
You're not applying for a program or job: you're trying out for a team (08:16): "You might think of yourself as someone who is trying out for a team or who might be considered for a team. What is it you have to offer? If you're a blank slate...that's something that's not going to appeal to the people who are making this decision.... You should have some idea of what your strengths are, where your interests lie, what sort of environment you like to work in.... Obviously your test scores show something about your math scores or your verbal skills, but it helps to know...whether you have a skill with problem solving...or whether you think in a more conceptual way. Whether writing is something that's a strength of yours or speaking, reading comprehension.... It helps to be able to articulate that when you talk to people."
Marketing skills are valuable for more than just marketing (10:08): "Quantitative skills are useful in a whole range of different careers.... Another thing is the general understanding of the business environment: What makes a business successful, what can threaten a business, and some of the principles of management.... How to identify people skills and work in situations where there are conflicts between people—those are managerial skills that can be brought to a large number of managerial positions, so that's another kind of career transition that people can make."
Laurence and I talked about much more, including the one universal networking tactic most people miss, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
This episode brought to you by Experian Marketing Services:
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Laurence Shatkin, career expert and author of several books, including Choose Your College Major in a Day and 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality. Learn more about Laurence at Shatkin.com, and follow him on Twitter @LaurenceShatkin.