Gain Marketing Experience That Looks Good On Paper & IRL 

The hiring process for any company can be tedious and stressful — on both sides of the equation. On the company’s side, they are choosing someone to board their ship, join their company mission, and help them achieve their future goals. So, it’s understandable that this decision is not one to be taken lightly. 

The marketing industry is both rewarding and fun (behind the hard work, of course), making the job market very competitive. The bar for creativity, dedication and experience is continuing to rise in the hiring process, so it is crucial that interviewees come into their interviews prepared. 

In order to properly prepare, you need to be ready to speak about yourself — both what is on your resume and what has shaped you off paper. But, which is more important? “Paper” and “real-world” experience matter for different reasons. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each so you can decide what you should emphasize in your next interview. 

Paper Experience 

When we say “paper” experience, it is as black and white as it sounds — no need to look further than what is printed on your resume. A resume serves the purpose of laying out your qualifications, whether it be in your educational or professional experiences, all on one 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper.


A resume is a valuable tool, especially in the beginning stages of the hiring process. This allows the employer to make sure that you are qualified for the job you are applying for. A resume can be a good indication of how your experience aligns with the specific position and the company as a whole. If you have impressive credentials, a strong resume can help you stand out from other candidates early on in the application process. 

Your resume gives you the chance to highlight your accomplishments. This is no place to be humble –– don’t be afraid to brag about yourself! The position you are applying for may have several applicants, so this is your opportunity to try to set yourself apart from the rest and make a solid first impression. As marketers, we all know how important first impressions can be!


While a strong resume can differentiate you from other applicants, it is by no means an all-access pass to your dream job. An impressive resume is not a sure sign that you are qualified for the position. Certain positions may require specific qualifications and experiences that are more advanced than your resume showcases, and in this case, your resume will not be your best asset. 

Paper also does not have the ability to show personality or soft skills. Strong credentials are important, but businesses need to be able to see that you would fit into their company culture. Marketing agencies, in particular, foster a collaborative work environment that encourage interactive spaces. A cohesive company culture is crucial in establishing a successful agency, so they are going to be looking to hire people that can add to this environment –– which is something that a resume can’t tell them. 

Real-World Experience 

On the other hand, real-world experience is also a very important part of the interview process. This concept is relatively vague, but essentially encompasses any sort of general experiences you have had throughout your life. A resume can also act as a tool that lists your experiences, but real-life experience focuses on the skills you have acquired throughout them. 


You live and you learn. This rings especially true in understanding how real world experiences can translate into marketing experience. Knowledge is powerful, but it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for certain situations you will face throughout your career. 

Hands-on, real-world experience is what provides insight into handling future situations. There are unforeseeable situations that inevitably arise throughout your career, especially in marketing, and your past experiences shape who you are and how you will navigate these different circumstances. 

The amount of experience you have in the marketing industry is something that agencies will take into consideration, but there is an increasing weight placed on your real-world experiences and how they have taught and shaped you. Loving what you do, working hard, and respecting the industry holds as much weight as years in the field do. 


There are certain cons that can come with only having “IRL” experiences. One of the primary downsides being that you may not have experience working with any sort of marketing agency. While ample world experience can help show that you are able to handle certain situations, it doesn’t mean that it will perfectly translate to marketing experience. 

There are many aspects of marketing that one can only be equipped to manage with prior experience in the field. Marketing experience, whether it be professional or educational, is vital in finding success in the industry. 

Being in the industry, we understand exactly why anyone would want to become part of the marketing world. So, before your next interview, be sure to carefully consider your resume and real-world experiences carefully to see which will best translate into marketing experience. Both sides of the equation are powerful, depending on your specific situation and the role you are applying for. 

Just as it is important that the agency you are applying for understands you, it is equally important that you understand them! Before interviewing, you should read up on what the agency does and how they go about doing it. Considering joining the Pinckney team? Be sure to download our Top Offers Bundle so you are fully briefed on who we are and what we do.