So you’ve decided that you’ve had enough of funemployment and want to pursue a career in Digital Marketing? Well done! You’re one step ahead of a lot of other graduates who still can’t bear to face life after uni.
Unfortunately, though, you’ve made a decision at a rather difficult time – *cough BREXIT cough* means only a few agencies are hiring at the moment, and even fewer at entry-level. The competition is heavy and the stakes are high.
Having just graduated and landed my first agency job here at Browser Media, here are my top tips to give you a handy leg up onto the career ladder inspired by Russell the Junior Wilderness Explorer from Disney Pixar’s “Up”.
1. If you can’t get experience, then DIY
One of the biggest challenges graduates face, is asking agencies to take a chance on them without any experience. Having an Instagram account for personal use doesn’t necessarily qualify you as a social media guru – sorry. The saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding”, but what if you’re a pudding without any proof? Well, my fellow graduates, experience is out there!
So my first top tip is to make your own experience. I worked at a local pub the summer after I graduated and asked to run their Facebook account whilst I was there. This forced me to develop skills essential in the digital marketing world, for example creating my own content meant I was the photographer, copywriter, and social media strategist.
If you can’t find a local business, pick a topic, make a fan account and start building your audience. There are some great guides out there to get you started.
An alternative way to make your own digital marketing experience is to create a website. Even just running a WordPress blog could make you stand out from the crowd. It might cost you a couple of quid to buy a domain name, but no more than you would’ve spent on a pint (including student discount) at uni. Just pick a topic you like, maybe your dissertation if you’re not sick to death of it, and follow this step-by-step guide.
2. Don’t just have LinkedIn, use it!
It still shocks me how many of my friends are not on LinkedIn. Yes, it is a “professional network”, but it’s still just another form of social media. Plus, if you’re nosey like me, it’s great for keeping an eye on what people get up to after graduation.
So my top tip number two, is don’t just have LinkedIn, use it! It’s effectively a way to build a digital CV that’s so much more than just a piece of paper. Let recruiters know you’re open to new opportunities, and you can also set alerts for entry-level roles from digital marketing agencies.
Yes build a profile, but most importantly build a network to engage with. Like the majority of social media algorithms, the more engagement a post gets, the wider it’s shared. So post your own content, but also comment on other people’s posts. Unlike other networks, users are actively looking for other people to engage with – much like a networking event. So you never know who might read your comment.
3. Keep your CV succinct, creative, and personalised
There’s a lot of mist surrounding what does, and what doesn’t make a good CV nowadays. It is so important to get it right, after all it’s what gets your foot in the door. My third top tip is to keep your CV succinct, creative, and personalised – and wear it with pride.
When I was at university, I was told to make my CV no longer than two pages, but when I asked my cousin who works at an agency in London, she said to keep it to one page. Her logic was that by keeping your CV short and sweet, then you’ll have more to talk about during the interview stage.
However, it does mean your CV copy should be interesting enough to catch a recruiter’s attention using just one-liners. I’m sure there are a few comedians out there who know how difficult this can be. Pull out some key points and put them up for discussion, like for example the title of your dissertation – this was was a hot topic during my interview.
Digital marketing is all about strategic creativity and using metrics to guide your creativity to get a better idea of what will and won’t work. Your CV is your first and potentially only chance to show off your creativity. Go for a wacky layout! I used Canva to create mine.
In the modern-day, your CV will probably never get printed and will just live as a PDF forever, so don’t worry about holding back on the colours. Make it legible but make it memorable, and for goodness sake, send it as a PDF!
Personalisation is an ongoing trend in the digital marketing world and can often give you a competitive advantage. So apply it your CV, even if you just change the top line to match the company and role you’re applying to – this still counts!
By adding that personal touch, an agency can see that you have put effort into your application, rather than just sending a blanket email, they’ll be able to tell that you generally care. Repeat this in your covering email to get extra bonus points.
4. Dress to impress
So congratulations if you got to this step, you’ve sold yourself on paper but now you have to do it face-to-face at an interview. First impressions are made within the first 7 seconds, so it is vitally important that you look the part.
Always, always, always go smart – even if they tell you it’s casual, the last thing you want is to look scruffier than your interviewer. (Maybe because it’s an agency you might be able to sneak in a more flamboyant pattern in to add a touch of you, but mostly look smart.) Critically, though, make sure you’re comfortable. If you’re human, interviews are generally an unpleasant experience, so there’s no need to make it any more difficult than it needs to be.
If you’re like me and tend to live in jeans and a T-shirt most days, you might be a little stuck for inspiration. Then Pinterest, it’s your time to shine! Make a board and get pinning, I actually found this quite addictive…
Take a dive into your wardrobe and find what pieces will be appropriate for an interview. You’d be surprised how smart a turtle neck can be when dressed up, or how crisp a shirt can look once it’s ironed.
If you’re still lost, then it might be time to take a trip to the shops. If you’ve just graduated, it is likely your pockets aren’t very deep at the moment, so you need an interview outfit on a budget. I certainly recommend exploring TK Maxx or a charity shop. You’d be surprised at what you can find there – just give it a wash and an iron before the big day!
5. Scouts motto: be prepared
It’s okay to feel nervous, but “if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Harsh, but true. Although you can’t predict the questions in an interview, you can practice your interview technique. So my final tip, and most important tip is to be prepared and get practising.
If you have to give a presentation and you don’t feel ready, then practice until you can do it in your sleep. When I was 16, I did two weeks work experience at an agency that ended in a presentation, the MD locked us in a room all day and made us practice until the presentation was perfect.
Another manager told me he used to hate giving presentations, but if he wanted to work in PR, presentations weren’t going anywhere. So he practised, practised, practised until he bored his friends to death. Don’t worry though, I think he’s still got some friends! If all the people in the business world I admire still practice their presentations, then I definitely will be.
The same can be applied to the actual interview itself. You can’t predict the questions, but you can have a good guess. Research the agency but also research the digital marketing industry.
I once had an interview with a well-known cinema company and made it all the way to the end of a tough assessment day, but couldn’t answer the question “So what films are you looking forward to that are coming out this year?”. To this day, I still want to bash my head on the table. So use that university mentality, and do your research! Keep an eye out for some digital marketing campaigns next time you’re scrolling through Instagram.
Finally, have a look through your CV or ask your mum to, and make a list of all the questions they could ask based on the points you make in your CV. From this list think about how you would answer, then use the STAR technique to stop you from rambling on. This stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Check this video out for a full explanation:
So there you have it, five key takeaways inspired by Russell the Junior Wilderness Explorer to get you ready to take that first step on the career ladder. Best of luck! Oh, and by the way, we’re hiring!
*all Up content (c) Disney Pixar