A glance at my LinkedIn might tell you a few things about my marketing career: erratic at worst, varied at best. When articles discussing younger workers being ‘job hoppers’ do the rounds, I’m certain that professionals like me are the cause of them.
My goal was always to do in-house marketing and, after landing in agencies, I adjusted my plans to suit what I was able to achieve. I wanted to get myself a broad range of experience in marketing, culminating in a specialism in content (what I felt I needed to be an effective in-house marketer). Having read the enlightening book, The Squiggly Career, by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis (Amazing If), I felt bold enough to make sure I was building a career that was right for me and wasn’t focused on reaching the next step in the ladder.
I’m pleased to say this is what I achieved, and then some. In a recent 1-2-1 with my line manager, he mentioned how I’ve had a very unique career path which has led to a unique position: marketing a marketing agency itself.
What working in agencies taught me
After an internship on the two-man marketing team at an IT services company, I joined Dentsu’s media buying arm, Amplifi, as a digital assistant, reporting on the government account’s display campaigns with a smattering of pay per click (PPC) thrown in there. Craving more influence over client campaigns, I took a leap into iProspect’s SEO department before ultimately moving into a ‘search specialist’ position (incorporating SEO, content, PPC and Amazon) at a smaller agency to fit with a new house move (before the days of work from home contracts being an available option).
Ultimately, I came into my current role with experience in account management, display, PPC, Amazon, SEO and content marketing. Naturally, the rapid pace of innovation in our industry had made all but my SEO and content skills effectively defunct from a practical point of view, but what I did have was the basic vocabulary and awareness of how these channels function, which was perfect for the unique role I found myself in.
Finding my rhythm as an in-house agency marketer
There’s no doubt in my mind that working on in-house projects is the best fit for me. I love bedding into a brand and focusing all my energy on making sure it’s the biggest and best it can be. When working at an agency, I felt frustrated by any interruptions that came through and would dread weekly calls with clients. Where some marketers thrive on this, I needed a role that didn’t restrict me to retainers or set hours per client.
My last role – working in-house at a boutique, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) recruitment partner – gave me what I’d been hoping for when I first stepped into a marketing role. I was a solo marketer, trusted to improve our visibility and identify where we could improve our reach. I upped our LinkedIn impressions by 500% and secured real growth for the business. My colleagues trusted me as the business’s marketing expert, and I had insight into a new industry that had always intrigued me (very much peering behind the curtain to those recruiter calls and messages we’ve all been on the other end of). But there was something missing from my agency days. While I was glad to have the freedom to work on what I needed to, I missed being able to chat to colleagues who were in the know about marketing and advertising updates, and I got the same sense of isolation my colleague Stef felt when she also went in house after life at iProspect.
When I (like so many of us) became redundant due to Covid-19, I was torn. In a hugely competitive job market, there were more agency roles available than in house, but I didn’t want to face the restrictions that came with that. It’s at this point I found the ad for an in-house content marketer with ClickThrough Marketing, an agency I’d heard of and knew was going through an exciting period of growth. It was a unique opportunity that suited my unique experience perfectly. I could understand the channels my colleagues would talk so passionately about and I was able to pick up on the big wins they were achieving. I’d been training for this role for years without even realising.
Skills and qualities
Some old-school recruiters or business owners might look at the above and assign me some fairly negative characteristics, such as flighty, impatient and someone lacking dedication.
But I challenge this.
In the same way that ClickThrough accepts that some people are going to move on from their roles, the industry needs to look at what potential employees have gained from a wide variety of roles. For me, I feel like a more fitting description is someone who is:
I’ve gained direct experience working on six different marketing disciplines, have proved that I can slot right into an existing company culture, and that I have the initiative to find the best fit for my skills. I’m an agile person that can make a variety of opportunities work for me. Surely this is no bad thing.
My colleagues will be pleased to know that I have no plans to move on any time soon. Being in my position, I’m able to set targets for myself and my team, collaborate with the most senior stakeholders in the business on marketing strategy and stretch my abilities. A combination of following my gut and a global pandemic led me to my ideal role, something that I’d never have pictured myself in until I realised how well everything fit together.
Now, I acknowledge that there are limits to how far we can take an open attitude towards ‘job hopping’. Barely working beyond your probation at each job isn’t going to get you a range of solid experience, and any job move should be assessed before you jump straight in. Ask yourself:
- Is this something I’ve been wanting to pursue, or am I suffering from itchy feet?
- Am I really not getting what I need from my role?
- Can I work with my line manager to develop in the way I want?
- Are there opportunities to explore what I want in my current job?
If possible, it is always best to look into opportunities in your current company, or by expanding what you’re doing already. When that’s not realistic, then it’s time to look elsewhere, while keeping in mind what you want your future to look like.
By Megan Carthy – content and marketing executive – ClickThrough Marketing
Megan discusses more about her journey in digital marketing in ClickThrough’s new monthly ‘The Assorted Digital Ramblings Podcast’. Available on all podcast listening services.