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I've been really interested in the areas of growth marketing and customer acquisition for some time now. I've done a lot of reading on the topics and recently graduated from university with a degree in marketing and communications. As a new grad, I'm having a lot of trouble finding an entry level role in "growth marketing" where the focus is on learning. Most of the opportunities that I'm coming across require a minimum of 5+ years experience in a similar role.

For you growth marketers out there, where did you get your start? What kind of companies or roles did you target early in your careers? What were some of the things you did to help draw attention to yourself and your passion for marketing?

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 5 years ago #

    I'd recommend doing some or all of the following @aaronu .

    1) Attach a LinkedIn profile to your GrowthHackers.com account and spend a lot of time reading and commenting on articles. It's a great way to demonstrate your "instincts" for growth marketing and if they are good, you'll likely build relationships that will lead to an offer. At the very least, you'll be learning and building your profile.
    2) Consider trying to get accepted to Tradecraft http://tradecrafted.com/ . You'll learn a ton from hands on growth marketers and you'll likely find a great role through them.
    3) Try to get a growth marketing internship so you can at least get some relevant experience. Your best bet might be an early stage startup that is light on funding but will give you a real opportunity to work free channels to drive growth. You may even be able to get some stock options (if they are early enough). At least while you are looking for something that pays better, you'll be getting real experience.
    4) See if you can become an affiliate for a product/service that you are passionate about. Then try to drive demand for it and earn some commissions. Through content marketing, social, SEO, etc, you can potentially earn some commissions without needing to spend any money on marketing.
    5) Learn one marketing tactic really well and start consulting around that tactic. In the beginning you may need to price your services as performance based.

    Those are just a few ideas. Hope this helps.

    • GP

      Gabriel Puliatti

      over 5 years ago #

      I would also add to 1), to also be part of PHYSICAL communities, if possible.

      People are more likely to hire you for a role at a startup or small growth team if they know you, as they're more likely to trust you. People will trust a stranger after a quick 5 min offline chat more than the well-identified guy who keeps sending unsolicited emails.

      • NB

        Nathan Brown

        over 5 years ago #

        I have to second the value of a physical community - I have Meetup.com to thank for a large portion of my growth hacking career. Running a meetup for local entrepreneurs & startup founders to talk about their growth tactics is a great way to meet potential employers and establish your personal brand at the same time.

    • BH

      Bertrand Hazard

      over 5 years ago #

      Couple of additional suggestions:

      1. Make sure to update your LinkedIn profile. At minima tell folks what you are looking for in the summary section. Right now your profile does not stand out nor is it obvious whether or not you are ready to relocate.

      2. Along the same lines ask the folks in this community to connect with you. If there is one thing LinkedIn is good at is connecting folks (and trust me when I review job candidates I try to see if we have common connections).

      3. Don't limit yourself to jobs with the words "growth hacker/hacking" titles. Most companies - outside Bay Area or NY - don't even know about it and/or would reference it in their job descriptions. Look for innovative companies and leaders and reach out to them. Again LinkedIn combined with tools like Rapportive (to find emails) is a great way to engage

      4. Personalize your communication - tell the leader/company why you are interested in the company and how you think you can help. Most of the time, what matters most if your motivation. Everyone is looking for super smart/talented folks and they are hard to find. It's really not difficult to differentiate yourself. For example I once received a resume in the form of an infographic. It got my attention and after a 30 minutes conversation with that prospective candidate I recruited her. She had passion and creativity.

      5. Someone already mentioned it but get out and meet people face-to-face. Present at bootcamps like ProductCamp. Get your name out there in forums etc.

      Last piece of advise ... don't wait for a job to be posted to reach out to a company you are seriously interested (or someone you'd love to work with). If you have a really strong potential companies will find a job for you.

      Hope that helps

  • ET

    Everette Taylor

    over 5 years ago #

    Here's some advice:

    Be relentless: I personally applied to countless jobs, its easy to get discouraged day after day getting turned down and people not seeing your potential but keep pushing forward. There's an opportunity out there. Keep an eye on our jobs section here, I've seen some that doesn't necessarily require a lot of experience. Check all the job boards you can and even things like Craigslist - some of the first opportunities I got I found them on there.

    Personal approaches: Social media makes getting in touch with people a hell of a lot easier. Catch people's attention on Twitter, say something funny, clever, or anything that catches their attention. Show your passion and a clear understanding of their product/company if you are able to get their attention.

    Constantly learn: Continue to use GrowthHackers and other sites to learn as much as you possibly can, you never know who's watching either. Although you aren't necessarily a practicing marketer at the moment, there's so much you can pick up on in the discussions and content on the web.

    Work on your own projects: One of the best ways to learn growth is experimenting with your own ideas and projects. You sound like the type that's hungry and have an entrepreneurial mindset. Use that! Also if you come up with a cool idea or method that a company that you aspire to work for could use - try to present it to them, never say never. That can definitely catch their attention.

    Create content: Take your learnings and establish yourself in the content marketing spectrum with your own blog and content. I know when I was first applying for marketing jobs many of them wanted to see writing samples. Not only can this prove that you're a good writer but also that you have a good understanding of growth principles. If your content gets good enough, it can start getting shared on online communities and can draw attention to you.

    Whatever you do man, don't give up. Have faith in yourself and keep believing. Trust me, things will work out.

  • PM

    Patrick McKenzie

    over 5 years ago #

    You probably shouldn't attempt to get a job in growth marketing. Get a job at a small company which does ~100% of its business on the Internet in any of: marketing, content, sales, dev, design, SEM/SEO, etc. Execute on your core responsibilities. In the process of executing them, use some of the tactics you read about on the Internet. Mix in 80% stuff other people tell you to do with 20% "stuff thrown at the wall to see what sticks." Change that mixture as you develop in skill level relative to "the average blog post on [pick a subject]."

    Obsessively document your efforts -- for your own use (above all else!), privately for your employers (get the credit for the results you generate and improve the business' ability to do this in the future), and publicly if you possibly can manage it.

    You now have skills and a portfolio. You also might find yourself outgrowing your initial position. If the company is not growing with you, it may be time to go somewhere else to do take the next step in your career.

    That's my advice for a young grad in 2014. I backed into this like many of my friends have: we started our own businesses as, basically, hobby projects, and figured out diverse skillsets as we went along just by being forced to. A combination of years of experimentation plus copious public documentation of it got me a pretty fun consulting career out of it, and the consulting/speaking/public documentation becomes a self-perpetuating career forward motion machine (assuming one is good at it).

    These days I don't do much consulting and mostly work on my first career love -- making and selling software.

  • HR

    Harris Reynolds

    over 5 years ago #

    Aaron,

    Hard to add much to what Sean has already suggested. One thing I'd add though it to just start writing about growth hacking/marketing! The more you force yourself to formulate your ideas through writing the more you will learn. Even if your writing is crap at the beginning, keep doing it.

    Also... make it super easy for people to contact you. Add your email address to profiles etc. If I wanted to contact you about an opportunity right now how would I do it? (your linked in profile is very opaque in many cases).

  • JB

    Jon Bishop

    over 5 years ago #

    Are you open to moving or are you looking for a local job? You should talk to @natedesmond - he recently got a job at Youtube and, while he had more experience than you do now, he's a pretty recent college grad.

    I break down getting a job into two steps - getting the right attention and, once you have it, backing it up with the right experience/knowledge.

    The other answers have addressed both in various ways. The key with #1 is to maintain more of a public face - increase your exposure by using more social media and writing your own content.

    One idea for #1 is to search Linkedin for people on the growth teams at companies known for growth like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Use the advanced search, throw the company name in the company field and "growth" in the either the keyword or title field. Now take the list you get and find these people on Twitter, follow them and engage with them (on a reasonable level - some use twitter strictly for personal stuff). There's also Andrew Chen's list here - http://andrewchen.co/2012/05/11/how-do-i-learn-to-be-a-growth-hacker-work-for-one-of-the-guys/

    With #2, only so much will be expected of you because you're a new grad. Take advantage and rise above expectations with your own blog, @sean's affiliate suggestion, comments on GH.com, etc.

    Where have you been looking for a job? Besides growthhackers.com/jobs, you should check out these links:
    jobs.sequoiacap.com
    www.usv.com/jobs
    www.foundrygroup.com/jobs/?sort=formattedLocation&companyCategory=foundry
    sparkcapital.com/jobs
    jobs.benchmark.com
    www.firstround.com/jobs
    jobs.kpcb.com/

    I'm happy to jump on Skype and discuss this more if you want. Let me know - jonbishop@gmail.com.

  • ND

    Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

    over 5 years ago #

    I was doing online marketing and wanted to transition to growth hacking, so I took on two internships and within a year am doing growth hacking through attracting the right kinds of clients and hiring the right kind of talent for my team.

  • LT

    Luke Thomas

    over 5 years ago #

    1. Find someone you can learn from. Do everything you can to work at a place where you're constantly being pushed to learn new things.

    2. Like @patio11 said, find a company that runs its business online. Focus on learning the ropes first (what's currently being done to generate business), and then when you're comfortable, try to start running experiments with new channels (or tactics within a channel that you know already works.)

    3. Document everything you possibly can. This is a great gauge on your personal development (I learned these 4 things over the past month), as well as showing your employer what you're worth ("I generated X increase in __________.)

    4. Don't limit yourself to job opportunities with a specific title (i.e. - "growth marketing"), but look at places where you think you can make an impact, and where you KNOW you can help. If you're good at PPC, find a company that is clearly lacking in this area.

    5. Do side projects.

    Lastly, just because a company doesn't have a job posting does not mean they wouldn't be interested in hiring you. One of the great parts about data-driven marketing is that if you can prove that you can move the business forward, you'll never have to look hard for a job. Very few businesses want to stay stagnant.

  • AU

    Aaron Upright

    over 5 years ago #

    Thanks everyone for the feedback and support—there are some great insights here which I'm eager to set into motion! This community seems like a great place to start sharing more and getting feedback along the way!

  • HK

    Hristian Kambourov

    over 5 years ago #

    Excellent ideas and suggestions so far.

    One more thing if I may:

    Become your own first client. Consider your goal of getting a job as a growth marketer your first assignment. Approach it as you would approach a client asking you for your services.

    Try building an online presence and audience. Start blogging and connecting with people you find interesting. Write as much you can and document every step of your journey.

    Reading can only get you so far. Your next step should be practicing.

    Show consistency and stick with it for as long as you can. Continue with it even when you do find a job.

    Good luck.

  • CC

    Chris Clark

    over 5 years ago #

    Some great answers here, so I'd like to add a couple more tactics to gain solid experience in the growth/marketing space:

    One way that some people do this is to do ad-hoc projects for non-profits. You might have a non-profit nearby that does direct marketing campaigns, and maintains a donor database. You can volunteer to help them with various issues that they might have. I did that five years ago, and it was a great learning experience.

    Also, there are many temp agencies that hire SQL experts ... the temp agency sends the person to a company to do projects at something like $45 an hour ... the temp agency pays the freelancer about two-thirds that sum, and keeps the rest. This is a good way to dip a toe in the freelance world.

  • JW

    Jonathan Wright

    over 5 years ago #

    Aaron - real long shot for you but I am actually looking for an entry level growth hacker at the moment. Snag is, from your perspective, it's based in London UK. It is a full time paid position though and it's working in a very small team so you'd get exposure to everything.
    If, on the off chance, you fancy a year or so in London then contact me and we can chat more.

  • BD

    Brad Dubs

    over 5 years ago #

    I'd like to second (or third) the others who mentioned doing side projects, except with the twist that it should be about something other than growth hacking. While that definitely get's the knowledge out from in between your ears, it doesn't show demonstrated results.

    I learned almost everything I know about SEO, copywriting, affiliate marketing, and social media marketing from starting a travel/personal finance blog aimed at college kids and young adults. As an added bonus, I earned a bit of money (enough to pay for my travels) in the process. Better yet, I was able to show Google Analytics reports that showed my growth tactics worked (which helped me land my last job at Causes.com).

    I'm currently repeating this process in the form of an e-commerce store to get more experience with Advertising and front-end web dev. It's a nice win-win tactic IMO.

  • AU

    Aaron Upright

    over 5 years ago #

    Hey guys, thanks again to everyone who took the time to comment and offer their feedback! I really appreciate all the support!

  • MR

    Martin Roth

    over 5 years ago #

    Everyone makes great points here. The idea is simple: Jobs in "growth marketing" do not exist. Technically all marketing jobs are "growth marketing" jobs. No company hires a marketing person without intention to spur growth.

    What's more important is finding a company that will provide you the flexibility to use growth tactics. Don't be discouraged if the title or the job description doesn't include "growth marketing", and marketing function will do.

    As Patrick McKenzie says, "be relentless". Once you find a position, pursue growth at all costs. :)

  • AT

    Andrew Thompson

    over 5 years ago #

    @bbalfour wrote a great post in Oct, 2013 on "How to Become a Customer Acquisition Expert". In that post he talked about shaping yourself like a 'T':

    "Go broad by knowing the basics including pros/cons of most channels. Then choose to go really deep on a couple channels. Generalists are useless in most work environments. As an expert in certain areas you will be able to build a brand around yourself and stand out from the crowd."

    The T-shaped image with various skills and article are linked here: https://twitter.com/andrewthompsonx/status/417783124370939905

  • AU

    Aaron Upright

    over 5 years ago #

    Hi again everyone! As per many of your suggestions, I took some time this past week to start writing! The first piece of content I put out was inspired by our discussion here, and is a summary of some of the advice you all offered! If you have some time to give it a read, I would love your feedback!

    https://medium.com/@imaaronupright/so-you-want-to-be-a-growth-hacker-8eafdc0eb7f6

  • NR

    nakkeeran raveendran

    over 5 years ago #

    @aaronu

    Apply to General Assembly's User Acquisition Marketing program. During the program you will asked to approach a startup for whom you will carry out supervised user acquisition. This will give you first hand experience in user acquisition/growth hacking. I believe the program is 10 weeks and once the program is completed, you are certainly bound to receive Growth Marketing job opportunities through General Assembly's email newsletters. I personally came into Growth Marketing this way and within 5 weeks landed my first job.

    Good luck.

  • VL

    Victoria Leonenko

    almost 5 years ago #

    Simply start with online marketing, you can apply as a junior digital marketer. Work with traditional instruments such as ppc, seo, emails, smm, partner programs, content marketing, conversion rate optimization.

    Don't wait for a task to increase sales from your boss. Set a goal to make revenue higher using those channels, pretend that it is your own business and care about it. And one day you'll feel the shortage of standard online marketing approach. You'll start to insanely seek for a way out and invent new ideas. This day you'll become a growth hacker :)

  • TK

    Tal Keinan

    over 4 years ago #

    Interesting discussion. We're (@adextent) are currently looking to hire for entry level position. Feel free to reach out with your resume.

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