Set Yourself Apart From The Competition
The digital marketing career path is extremely popular right now. College graduates want to work more in the online space and companies want to hire more individuals who can help propel their corporate digital marketing strategy. According to Smart Insights, the top marketing position that companies wanted to hire in 2015 was “digital marketing” and that number was projected to grow even more in 2016.
Despite the wealth of new positions and hiring in the field, the competition for those jobs is immense. Some higher-level or senior positions receive hundreds or even thousands of applications. In addition, they require a wide range of qualifications. Digital marketing positions can require anywhere from no experience to 10+ years of experience, even though the idea of “digital marketing” has only existed since the early 2000s.
The competition for jobs is immense
So how do you get into this field? How does an entry-level, recent college graduate start a career in digital marketing? There are thousands of people looking to get into the field every year, so it is important that you set yourself apart from the competition. These five steps are ideal for a recent college graduate or somebody considering a career in digital marketing.
Step 1: Research and Learn About the Digital Marketing Field
Before applying for any position, you need to develop background knowledge that will help you in your digital marketing interview. Most universities do not yet offer full programs on digital marketing, so you will likely have to spend time teaching yourself the basics and numbers behind the discipline.
A general overview of the digital marketing field is a good start. You can learn about the various topics such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing and email marketing. The goal is to be able to speak to any of these things in an interview, even if some topics are not listed in a job description. However, that does not mean you cannot specialize in certain digital marketing topics.
Step 2: Choose Two or Three Digital Marketing Topics to Focus On
There are so many digital marketing topics that it is impossible to be an expert in all of them. Thus, it is important to focus on a select few. However, make sure your chosen topics are not too broad. Saying you are going to focus in web analytics is nice, but that is a broad topic and one that can be broken down into multiple subsets.
As one who hires multiple people every year for digital marketing positions, I ask candidates about three broad topics:
- Web analytics
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
Then, based on the candidate’s responses to those three broad topics, I drill down a bit more into each, asking about specific pieces of each topic. If the position is entry level or an internship, I focus on one topic and ask about the candidates’ experiences.
In reality, your experience with digital marketing is not as important as your ability conduct your own research and show a passion for the discipline. Too often I see candidates applying for digital marketing positions because it is a stepping stone to a different career. The fact is, digital marketing is a legitimate career path now and I want to hire people that have those aspirations.
Step 3: Build Your Online Brand
Most people know that their personal social media accounts will be searched and reviewed when applying for jobs. Yet, most do not bother to develop additional personal online branding. In this advanced digital age, it is important for job candidates to maintain at least one online presence beyond social media, whether it be a blog, About.me page, or other website. Chances are, you have done some work that you are proud of. Post it online!
When I research my candidates, I admittedly do not consider it a major negative if they do not have blogs or websites. However, having those assets makes a huge impression on me – more often than not, candidates who have online resumes or portfolios receive an interview.
Step 4: Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter to the Specific Digital Marketing Job
In order for your resume to stand out, use language that accurately reflect your experience. Using vanilla verbiage and bland descriptors will lead the hiring manager to believe your experience was also vanilla and bland.
The beauty of digital marketing is that success can almost always be quantified. In my first four years at my current company, I could show my digital marketing prowess by pointing to key performance indicators that showed exponential company growth on social media and on the company website. Plus, I could point to conversions that led to a return on investment measured in dollars.
If you have any quantifiable experience or success, make sure to include it on your resume. A bullet point reading “Led social media strategy and increased followers” is not as effective as “Increased Facebook followers by 75% and Twitter followers by 84%.”
Your cover letter should focus on how you achieved your quantifiable success and your enjoyment of digital marketing. Plus, if you are self-taught in any digital marketing areas, you can mention that as part of your experience. Entry-level candidates are not expected to have the 10 years of experience that senior-level digital marketing positions demand, so explaining how you learned about digital marketing topics will impress the hiring manager.
Step 5: Give an Enthusiastic Interview and Apply Everything you have Learned in Digital Marketing
Most hiring managers looking to hire entry-level digital marketing positions want to see enthusiasm and positivity as much as actual skill. If you come across as enthusiastic, creative and a problem solver, you will have a great chance at getting the job. The in-person interview generally provides the hiring manager a good idea of the candidate’s personality and demeanor, albeit in a very small dose. For digital marketing positions, those aforementioned impressions (enthusiastic, creative and problem solving) are critical, as they provide new dimensions to your resume.
Again, do not shy away from saying you are self-taught in certain digital marketing areas. Being able to teach oneself is to show dedication and self-sufficiency. Yes, experience is important, but so too is the ability to be a problem solver.
This should go without saying, but be sure to review the job description thoroughly before the interview and know enough about the company to provide some quick tips on how to improve their digital marketing strategy. Entry-level positions will not be expected to provide a comprehensive digital marketing strategy in the interview, but the candidates may be asked about their familiarity with the company and its online properties. Check out the company’s website, social media pages and subscribe to their email newsletter if there is one available. Do as much digital research on the company as possible so you can sound well-versed and familiar with their existing digital marketing tactics.
The most impressive example of this digital research I witnessed was with an internship candidate. She had not only reviewed my company’s social media pages, but she noticed our Facebook message response time as being “very good” and “usually responds immediately.” She then asked me if there was a rigorous process in place for responding to messages or if it was considered on a case-by-case basis. I was impressed with the familiarity and the thoughtfulness of the question (I hired her the next week).
Now you are ready for success!
Breaking into the digital marketing field via an internship or entry-level position is no easy task, but hopefully these steps can support you in your career endeavors. As long as you do your research and show a genuine interest in the field, you will have a great chance to embrace one of those highly coveted digital marketing positions. Good luck!