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As the new year approaches, I’m almost certain that many of your new year’s resolutions include mention of “getting a new job” or “move to a new role”. As it turns out, almost half of Canadians are dissatisfied with their jobs, and 55% of workers aged 18 to 34 want to bid adieu to their current gigs. It seems too many companies nowadays still do not understand what it takes to retain talent (or perhaps they just don’t care, in which case STEER CLEAR). This is why it’s critical to apply to new jobs with your eyes wide open!

Admittedly, when I first got the idea for this post, I was unsure whether the content would be too obvious to write. I mean, do I really need to spell out how to read a JD and apply? But the more I talked to my peers and mentees, the more I realized the huge gap in knowledge when it comes to job application process.

Two reasons this post might be useful for you: 1) You are looking for your first job in Marketing, or 2) You are a new grad job-seeker unfamiliar with the whole process. Hopefully this post can provide some useful mind filters to find those jobs that match what you want to do, what you’re qualified to do, and how you want to do it.

1. Brand/Business Scope

Lots of job postings will include a mention of the potential brand(s)/business(es)/portfolio that you will be responsible for. This is true particularly for Brand Management and Agency roles. Don’t be too quick to dismiss a job even if it’s not on something you personally care about. I never ate granola bars until I managed the Quaker Chewy Bars portfolio, and that was one of the fundamental roles that taught me all about brand management. Instead of the actual brand/business, think more about the scale (size of business you’ll be managing), interactions (agency/partner/client relations, cross-functional team management), and skill development (strategy, execution, digital, creative, etc.) that this role will expose you to.

If the posting does not include mention of scope, it could mean either they do not know yet (some companies will do their hiring in batches for similar roles and slot them into actual positions closer to start dates) or they do not want to disclose (perhaps it’s a new division that is currently confidential). In this case, apply first and ask for more details once you get a response.

2. Hiring/Reporting Manager

The job description will usually include mention of who this role reports into. A little sleuthing on LinkedIn will quickly reveal who’s currently in that role. Why is this important? Because your manager is equally if not more important than the role itself. Having a genuinely supportive manager with great coaching ability trumps a flashy role with someone who won’t invest in your development. Try talking to any 2nd degree connections to hear what they have to say about this potential new manager of yours.

3. Years of experience

If the posting doesn’t include minimum # of years required, it’s an entry-level position. And even if it does, don’t take the literal number of years as a hard filter, but rather as a guideline for seniority level. If you have directly relevant experience in internships, volunteer, or even your own business, that counts!

4. Full-time vs. contract

Full-time usually means at least 40 hours a week, with a benefits package to boot, and no end date to the position. Contract, on the other hand, usually defines the number of months/years you are guaranteed to be in this position, after which you will either re-negotiate for an extension or be dismissed. While most people understand these differences, keep in mind that a lot of “adulting” things like getting a line of credit or mortgage favour those with full-time status (it is slightly more guarantee to the lender that you have long-term cash inflow). Contract positions also typically don’t include a benefits/retirement package or paid vacation days, so be sure to keep that in mind when thinking about salary expectations.

5. Responsibilities vs. Requirements

The bulk of a job description is usually a bulletized list of what you’ll be responsible for, and what the requirements are to apply. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t fully understand or have experience on all of the responsibilities! After all, the point of you getting this job is to build new skills and learn. Requirements (or Qualifications), on the other hand, are more prescriptive. The more specialized the role, the more hard criteria will be stipulated (i.e. ability to use specific software/platforms). “Is a plus” means not a mandatory. Use this section as a guide on what gaps you have, and try to gain some experience through online courses or real world work simultaneously to show you’re at least working on it!

6. % Travel

This is pretty self-explanatory, but I find corporate travel sometimes to be over-glamourized. Most people envision a jet-setting lifestyle with the golden sun beaming across the horizon as you gaze out of your plush business-class seat window. In reality, you’re probably rushing to make your Monday morning flight to middle-of-nowhere United States and returning within 24 hours, without any time to sight-see. Still, it’s important to understand if travel will be part of this role as that could impact your job satisfaction. Think about where the company’s HQ is located (if not in your current city), as you may attend trainings, meetings or conferences there. If you are client-facing, seeing where your clients are located might also give you a clue on where you might frequent.

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