If you’re thinking about a career in marketing or growth, you’re probably wondering how to someday become a VP/head of growth or marketing.
You probably want to get there as soon as possible. And it isn’t at all clear how to do so.
Based on observation and my own personal experience, here are the quickest 3 ways to get that head of growth job…
1. Get lucky 🚀
Let’s start with the least likely option first.
A large part of how you’re judged as a marketer is on past performance.
But not your personal performance – the performance of your previous employer…
How quickly that past employer’s revenues grew while you worked there.
So, if future employers see you worked in marketing at a ridiculously fast-growing company like Notion, Airtable or AirBnB (in its early days), they’ll want you to lead their growth efforts and bring some of that ‘growth magic’ with you.
Even if you’re not actually a particularly skilled marketer at all and the growth had nothing to do with you.
Therefore, one route to being hired as a head of growth within ~2 years is simply to identify a rocket-ship startup and get hired in any growth role there.
Apply to the role you want with that rocket-ship company on your CV and you’ll probably get the job.
Are you likely to be able to accurately predict one of these rocket-ship companies to work for? No.
Will you have the skills necessary to do the job well? Probably not.
But can it work and do people take this route? Yes, for sure.
There aren’t very many people out there who worked in marketing at a rocket-ship. And there are even fewer people who’ve had demonstrable success as a growth lead…
… so they are very expensive and difficult to hire.
This means a lot of early stage startups who really need their services simply can’t find, afford, or attract these candidates (even though they want them).
And to be brutally honest, most early-stage founders wouldn’t recognise an amazing growth lead candidate anyway.
You can use this to your advantage.
Even with very little marketing experience, you can apply to these positions – and get them!
Compete by being cheaper, willing to work hard, and surrounding yourself with an excellent set of growth mentors.
Sooner or later, an early stage founder will give you a chance. Either because they can’t hire (or afford) the people they want, or because they can’t tell the difference between you and a real expert.
It’s then up to you to make sure you set up a support network of mentors you can turn to to help you learn on the job.
I know several people who started off this way and successfully grew with the company into brilliant growth leads.
3. Start at the bottom, network up
This is probably the most common and reliable path to quickly becoming a successful head of growth.
- Take a job in growth or marketing working under a head of growth you admire
- Do your job well and learn from that head of growth
- Network. Do some consulting on the side for other companies (and be vocal about the results on Twitter etc). Start a podcast, newsletter or blog where you interview other heads of growth and founders you’d like to work for. Become (seen as) an expert by association
- Leverage your network and newly found position of expertise to get that head of growth position you applied for
Do this diligently and, within 2 years, you could be a growth lead/first growth hire for an early stage startup.
Those are the 3 ways I’ve seen people build ‘head of growth’ careers quickly. I’m not saying they’re the best or only ways to do so. Just the fastest.
Disagree? Am I missing something?