We’ve recently been recruiting for several marketing positions in our digital agency in London and it’s clear the competition is tough. So how can you stand out and what are employers looking for in their new marketing recruits?
From the candidates we short-listed and interviewed, there were things that stood out more than others and everyone has their own preferences. For example, I’m a stickler for covering emails/letters as I think they demonstrate how well a person can articulate themselves. Others don’t mind this and systems such as LinkedIn make it easy just to apply with a CV.
Marketing as a career has changed significantly over the last ten years due to digital changes. Try to imagine marketing before social media, iPhones and Google. It’s quite difficult unless you are a relative dinosaur like me (my first job involved faxing directory entries as our system didn’t generate pdfs). Knowing how to create a marketing strategy and plan is still important, but so is having broader digital knowledge and skills. If you want to be an SEO expert in London, you need to tick all the other digital skills boxes too.
Recent graduates have grown up in a digital world and can bring a fresh perspective to teams and strategy. Yes, experience is important but sometimes what you need is to turn things on their head. That’s difficult to do when you’re from a different era and practiced marketing in a different way.
When we’re hiring for executive positions, we know that the person is not going to have the depth of experience as the rest of the team – talent, personality and ability are at the forefront. This is what we look for and expect candidates to demonstrate it.
So how do you secure a job interview with a digital marketing company like MintTwist or as a digital marketer in another company? Below are my top tips on what you can do to be irresistible to potential employers.
Know your technology
This is one area that marketers are expected to know more about. This doesn’t involve wearing an Apple Watch or listing the ins-and-outs of the latest Samsung Galaxy but understanding how websites and applications interact with each other. A basic understanding of how these are built will go a long way.
You may be lucky enough to have a job or be studying a subject that gives you the opportunity to learn about it. If you don’t, there are a number of resources that can help. Not only does it add skills to your CV, it also demonstrates initiative and a willingness to learn.
I’m not suggesting that the aim is to build your own website or to deploy databases. Being familiar with the method and process will put you in good stead if you are eventually employed in a role involving marketing automation or a website redesign.
Good resources to investigate and improve your knowledge are:
- Team Tree House – similar to Code Academy but only free for the first 14 days.
- MailChimp – an email marketing platform that allows you to build templates. Free so you can experiment to your heart’s content.
Understanding data and drawing insight from it is another critical skill marketers need today. You don’t have to be a mathematics genius, but basic Excel skills and Google Analytics knowledge will help.
Marketing budgets, especially digital ones, are under pressure to demonstrate return. Being able to track and measure activity will immediately separate you from the “doers”.
Getting this experience can be hard as it is typically a task for senior marketers and you may not have access to some of the information. If you can, ask if you can be involved in it, or find an area where reporting is non-existent or weak and create something for it.
The Google Analytics Academy is a good place to start your analytics training and Skilled Up has an excellent article on different free Excel tutorials.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
We always ask candidates what they think their strength and weaknesses are. Most interviewers will so be prepared.
Strengths usually come easily; weaknesses are tougher. Who likes to admit they are not very good at something especially when it’s a skill required in the job description?
I find the weaknesses answer more interesting that the strengths. If I’m going to hire you, I want to know how to make you better. No candidate will ever walk through the door perfectly rounded (if they did I would be suspicious).
Don’t be afraid to answer this question honestly. What makes it an even better answer is if you talk about addressing the weaknesses, e.g. researching the subject, looking at training courses. If you are serious about digital marketing, then show that you are willing to invest the time learning about it.
Tailor your cover letter and CV
No doubt the careers office or CV book emphasise this, but it really does make a difference. It makes it much easier to place you in the interview pile.
Email and job application platforms have done their best to kill off the covering letter. If you do have the option of adding one, then do it. This is your chance to pitch yourself and show-off.
The covering email/letter is a great opportunity to add more detail around facts in your CV and explicitly say why you fit the bill. It also shows me that you can write properly, persuasively and concisely. If the job you apply for requires writing skills, this is your opportunity to prove it.
A tailored letter and CV also tells me that you want to go the extra mile and are enthusiastic about the job.
If digital marketing is the area you want to forge a career in, then get involved in it by extra-curricular activities through university or your own personal interests. This gives you the opportunity to try different systems, e.g. WordPress, MailChimp and SumAll, but also practice your coding and analytical skills. It also helps to contact a digital marketing consultant.
Passion also comes through your knowledge of the industry and if you are reading the right sources. Follow and read sites such as Mashable, Marketing Land, Econsultancy, Smart Insights and, of course, the MintTwist Digital Ideas blog.