How to Keep Your Marketing Resume out of the Trash

How to Keep Your Marketing Resume out of the Trash

February 20, 2024
7 min read

There’s a great irony among the marketing profession. Most marketers are quite good at what they do—whether it be promoting a product, building a brand, or selling a service. But when it comes to marketing themselves, many fall short of putting together a compelling message that convinces employers of their talent and experience.

One place in particular that I see marketers struggle with their personal brand is the all-important resume. There are a lot of important factors in designing an effective resume, from general things everyone should be doing (grammar and spell checking) to more detailed industry-specific steps like developing a portfolio.

When it comes to catching the attention of hiring managers and keeping your resume out of the Recycle Bin, there’s one thing every marketer should be doing with their resume. Simply taking the extra time to methodically detail your most important experiences and successes in the right way makes you stand out among the crowd and builds a case for your qualifications.

Earning a Competitive Edge for the Most Sought After Jobs

What’s your ideal marketing job? Is it one that’s at a prestigious brand or agency? One that pays very well? Something that’s working on particularly interesting and innovative projects? Whatever it is, there a probably a lot of other people out there who want that job for similar reasons. In order to win the jobs of your dreams and follow your planned career path, you’ll need to stand apart and above other candidates along the way.

Providing a properly detailed and compelling history of your professional and success through your resume is one of the best ways to distinguish yourself. After all; it’s usually the first impression you’ll have on recruiters and employers. As a marketer, you should know how important that first impression can be.

Many professionals, marketers included, will simply use their resume to list their previous job titles and perhaps a few corresponding responsibilities for each. Here’s the problem with that approach; it tells potential employers nothing about whether you were actually good at those jobs or how much you contributed to the business.

For instance, it’s meaningless to tell a potential employer that you “wrote PPC ad copy” or “managed social media accounts” at a previous job. You could put a monkey in charge of those things. What really matters is how many clicks those ads drew given their cost, or how much customer engagement your social activity brought.

With all the analytics, automation, and tracking technology now available to marketers there’s no excuse not to be able to give specific, demonstrable evidence of your value. Here are some examples to reference for your own resume:


  1. Deployed email campaigns
  2. Updated company website
  3. Build direct mail lists


  1. Doubled prospecting email opens and increased click rate 80% over one year while growing email list from 10,000 to 14,000 leads
  2. Optimized and redesigned site to reduce page load times by over 2 seconds and increased click through rate to landing pages by 40%
  3. Segmented mailing lists by demographic and buying stage, reducing cost per lead from $10 to $6 and increased call center contacts by 29% over 18 months

Today’s marketing is all about measurement, optimization, and accountability. When you can’t provide evidence of those in your resume, it’ll raise red flags among any experienced employer.

It’s a frequent problem—but that’s good news for you. It means that if you’re one of the relative few professionals that knows how to describe your business impact, you’ll stand head and shoulders above any other candidates who fail to do so.

Completing Your Resume

The best way to convince an employer that you’ll be successful in the future is to show that you’ve found that success in the past. And the best way to describe how successful you’ve been is to list significant, meaningful improvements that you contributed to that directly impact the business. What campaigns and initiatives can you point to that indicate that you’re especially good at your job, that you’re a hard worker, that you’re ambitious?

All Roads Lead to the Bottom Line

The gold standard for all marketing achievement is Return on Investment. The more you can directly tie yourself to ROI in your resume, the stronger it will be.

Ideally that means explaining the value you provided for the resources invested in the form of a hard dollar amount. $X of budget and time put in, $Y of revenue driven.

However, it’s not always possible to provide that information. Perhaps you were in a junior position that didn’t have access to such data, or a role that wasn’t included in big-picture budgeting and reporting discussions. Or perhaps the information is extremely sensitive and proprietary, unfit for being seen by others outside that organization. Whatever the case, it just means you have to get creative with how you tie yourself to ROI.

Additionally, it’s important to focus your resume on reporting metrics that can be obviously linked to financial value. Avoid “vanity metrics” that look nice but don’t have immediate ROI implications like Facebook followers or brand awareness. Instead, show the impact of those metrics on engagement, leads, conversions and sales. Consider the KPIs you were assigned by your manager and show how well you met/exceeded expectations and contributed to a larger marketing operation.

ROI-Centric Examples

  • Executed technical SEO strategy that put site on 40 out of 50 “high value” keyword SERPs (up from 7 at the beginning of the campaign), growing organic traffic from 5,000 to 20,000 visitors/month and leading to a 300% increase in organic leads/month
  • A/B tested email subject lines, growing open rates by 50% and conversion rates by 40%
  • Used a $10,000 YouTube advertising budget to drive $110,000 of ecommerce sales over 9-month campaign

Don’t Forget Context!

Say a TV ad campaign you managed produced about $10 million in sales. That’s pretty impressive…or is it?

If that campaign cost $10 million to create and execute, and your goal was $25 million in sales, all of a sudden your results aren’t so dazzling. Provide enough context in your resume to make your accomplishments have meaning.


  1. Designed graphics for content that created 350 new leads
  2. Managed a direct mail campaign that drove 25,000 sales
  3. Executed 5 customer experience improvement campaigns


  1. Designed blog and whitepaper content that doubled monthly inbound leads from 175 to 350 over two years
  2. Managed a direct mail campaign that drove 25,000 sales over 6 months, beat goal of 18,000 sales
  3. Oversaw company’s first-ever customer experience improvement initiatives; completed 5 over 3 years that increased customer satisfaction by 25% and increased resale rates among previous customers by 20%

6 Things You Really Need to Stop Putting in Your Marketing Resume

Your resume doesn’t need to be flashy to make an impact. But if it isn’t modern, efficient and relevant to the people looking at it, then employers are going to assume you’re not either. Next time you revisit your resume, take special care to ensure it doesn’t include any of these detrimental factors:

Cheap Buzzwords

Marketing is saturated with platitudes that get repeated so often they become meaningless. Unfortunately, those buzzwords and phrases too often find their ways onto resumes. Terms like:

  • “self-motivated”
  • “team player”
  • “data-driven”
  • “best of breed”

are largely meaningless and weaken your resume. In a survey by CareerBuilder, buzzwords like these were named as some of recruiter’s biggest turn-offs. Replace them with strong action verbs that describe how you were able to improve a process, increase revenue or cut costs.

Whacky Job Titles

A few years ago there was a trend of claiming or granting unconventional and often grandiose job titles: Chief Everything Officer, Social Media Samurai, Email Marketing Power Ranger, and so on. You’ve probably gotten a business card listing onc of these titles, or perhaps you even have one yourself.

The idea was clever enough to begin with but has since lost its charm. You won’t impress anyone these days by slapping “Evangelist” or “Crusader” at the end of your title–even if that’s what your employer has you formally listed as in their records. More importantly, that kind of name doesn’t do much to tell someone what your role was in a casual scan.

For your resume, there’s no shame in using standard job titles common across the industry that were analogous to your responsibilities in that role.


It’s extremely uncommon for a written objective to add a substantial value to a marketing resume. Much more often, it comes off as a generic waste of valuable resume space. The easiest way to put a recruiter to sleep is to have them read about another “marketing professional looking for opportunities that will allow me to leverage my skills.”

Avoid the run-of-the-mill objective statement and replace it with your elevator pitch. Briefly explain what you’re great at, your major accomplishments, and how you can provide unique value to this marketing role.

Personal Photos

There is no reason for a marketing professional to add a headshot or other picture to their resume. It’s just a distraction from what really matters: your qualifications.

Additionally, a photo can give unscrupulous employers unnecessary information nationality, age, religion and other factors that they could use to make a discriminatory decision before meeting you in person. That kind of choice is illegal, but there’s little you can do to identify it and get it enforced.

And really, most headshots aren’t even that flattering.

Your Home Address

It’s 2017. Nearly all communication you’ll ever need to have with a recruiter or hiring manager will go through phone or via digital channels like email. There’s no need for you to list your personal address on your marketing resume–yet it’s something that many professionals continue to do.

Leave your city and ZIP code so employers can be assured you live close enough to do the work (i.e. you’re not 500 miles away). But your home address is just one more bit of irrelevant information that a reader could use to discriminate against you.

Replace your home address with your digital addresses: email, personal websites, blogs, LinkedIn Profile, portfolios, etc.

Past Salaries and Wages

There’s no need to include salary information or hourly pay rates for roles you previously held in your resume.

It’s not only unnecessary; it may send the wrong message to recruiters and employers. You might preemptively price yourself out of consideration before even getting invited to the negotiation table, or offered a rate much lower than what you’re looking for.

Remember, your resume should showcase the value your professional experience and skills provide–not its cost to former employers. If an application asks for salary requirements, address these questions in your cover letter.c

Bonus Tip: Get Your File Formats Right

One extremely common mistake we see among marketers in particular is not having a version of their resume available in a universally accepted word processor format like .docx.

Many marketers save their resume as a PDF or other fixed-image format. That’s especially common when they want to get creative with how their resume is formatted. That’s entirely fine, and can even be advantageous as a way to show off their design skills or cleverness. But even if you want to take this approach, it’s still extremely important to have a simple version that can be read in a common program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

2 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Marketing Resume out of the Trash

  1. Kendra

    Great advice — unless you have / had a job where you had assigned tasks but no measurable results. Customer service jobs are one example.

  2. Mark Miller

    Good point Kendra. In some roles, especially entry-level service jobs, it’s difficult to point to obvious, significant personal improvements you contributed. Still, I’d challenge anyone with such experience to try to find specific instances where they overperformed or exceeded expectations if at all possible.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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