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Posts tagged with: career advice

How to Kickstart your Digital Marketing Career – Part 3

Desk and diary by Jeff Sheldon

This will be my final post in the series ‘How to kickstart your career in digital marketing’. Part 1 and Part 2 were published a few weeks ago.  “How to kickstart your career in digital marketing Part 1” focused on the basics of your social profiles and industry specific events, whereas Part 2 focused more on specific skills and qualifications that will put you straight to the top of the pile of applicants.

In today’s post, I will focus on what to do when you weren’t asked in for an interview or what to do when you received a rejection after an interview. I’m outlining a few scenarios below specifically if you have applied for a job at a digital marketing agency but most of these tips can be also applied to the client side.

I’ve applied for a job at an agency but haven’t got a response

Agencies are always busy, continuously servicing their clients. This often slows down the recruitment process, particularly for smaller to medium sized agencies that don’t have an HR person in-house. If you haven’t heard back two weeks after your initial application, give them a call. Ask whether they’ve received your application and at what stage they are with the recruitment process. This should enable you to find out how long it might take to hear back about an interview and it also shows that you are keen, which is an added bonus.

You have received a rejection letter or email after attending an interview

This can be a real disappointment, particularly if  the job description seemed right down your street and you felt you had great rapport with the interviewer. As tough as it might seem you need to see this as an opportunity to learn and find out more. Email the interviewer and ask whether they would be able to provide you with some feedback and what they think you could do to improve your chances in the industry for future applications. Ask whether they could either email you or whether they’d prefer you to call them and ask whether they could let you know a preferred time and day. If the interviewer agrees to give you feedback, it will probably be most likely by email. If you receive an answer, review it with an open mind and honestly take on board what has been suggested.

You have received a rejection letter or email without an interview

That’s not a great position to be in but it happens to the best of us.  In this case it’s difficult to ask for feedback, yet, I believe, you should still try and ask for it. Maybe give the prospective employer a call and try to find out why you didn’t make the cut for an interview. It will be more difficult to get specific feedback in this case but it’s still worth a try.

Stay in touch with the company

If you’ve had positive feedback but the agency may not be looking for employees with your profile at this point, it does no harm to stay in touch with them. Follow the company on Twitter , LinkedIn and connect with your interviewer on those platforms as well. Ensure that you engage with him/them on a regular basis. Follow their blog and read their company news. After a few months get back in touch and see whether any suitable roles might be in the pipeline. Staff requirements at agencies can change quickly as a company grows. Often their need for more junior staff increases as well during those phases of growth. Also find out whether the company or its staff attend or throw any local events that you could take part in. Just stay at the forefront of their mind, once they are going through their next recruitment cycle. You will be remembered a lot quicker if you keep in touch with them.

Register as an apprentice

In the UK there is an increase of Digital Marketing apprenticeships available and may enable you another way into a company. For employers there are now financial benefits as apprenticeships are government funded in the UK.

Find out more about English apprenticeships or Scottish Digital Marketing apprenticeships, where you are able to search for apprenticeships near you.

Find a mentor

There are various organisations of volunteers that focus on helping graduates and anyone else who is looking to getting their foot in the digital marketing sector.

Every year I mentor a few people and help them to further their career. Why not get in touch with me?

Final thoughts…

As frustrating as it can be, persevere and keep building up your own brand whilst you are looking for a job. Stay on top of industry news and try to further your knowledge, attend local meet ups and industry events and maybe start your own side project. If you keep at it, you will be successful eventually.

Do you need any help moving your digital career forward? Why not get in touch?

You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIN or just email me! I’d love to hear from you.

Photo credit Jeff Sheldon


How to Kickstart your Digital Marketing Career – Part 2

Sunset horizon

I’m back to mentoring three new aspiring digital marketeers and it’s been great fun so far. My last post on “How to kickstart your career in digital marketing Part 1” focused on building your own brand through social media and blogging and attending industry specific events to get to know some potential employers in person. My post today will outline some specific skills and possible qualifications that will give you a better foundation for a career in digital marketing.

Free and low cost Qualifications for everyone

There are a number of Google qualifications that you can obtain. You can get Google Adwords certified. The online study materials are free, only the cost of the exam is $50. There are also plenty of Google Analytics training materials, you can study for free for the Google Analytics Individual qualification or register for free courses that range from Mobile app to ecommerce analytics at the Google Analytics Academy. If you are looking to get into social media, why not try the Hootsuite University, which is only around $21 per month until you completed the course. Moz have tons of free resources on SEO and link building. Distilled University costs $40 per month but they have some free resources and you can try out some free modules.

Official paid for qualifications are not a must

Some employers will wildly disagree with me but I don’t think that you have to have a Masters in Digital marketing in order to get your foot in the door. You will have ended up paying thousands of pounds in order to get the qualification, just to be getting an entry level job that will not enable you to pay your debt back quickly. In this recent article on by Ben Rowland on the Digital Apprenticeship revolution, Rowland states that graduates often leave agencies just as they become useful and there is now a trend that companies move towards getting school and college leavers into digital apprenticeships in order to mould them according to their specific needs. I personally have two issues with digital marketing qualifications or with degrees that teach some digital marketing:

  1. They are generally very expensive and cause people to get into huge debt.
  2. Often the material taught, is already outdated, as our industry moves so fast, the curricula can’t keep up.

If you are set on getting an official qualification, you can find out more on the Digital Marketing Institute website. Econsultancy also offer a wide range of training courses in digtal marketing. Squared Online is the latest addition to the digital marketing qualifications, which was developed together with Google. I was told that this course is very basic and only for people who have no knowledge of digital marketing at all.

Stay on Top of Industry News

The digital marketing sector is one of the fastest moving and ever changing. It’s important to stay on top of recent changes. Follow the Google Webmaster blog, Search Engine Land, Mashable, Search Engine Roundtable, Econsultancy and follow the blogs of any prospective employers you’re interested in working for.

Get hands-on experience

Don’t just expect the experience come to you. Start a personal project i.e. create a blog and write what you’re passionate about and try to promote your blog. Get in touch with some agencies or other companies and apply for digital marketing internships. Unfortunately they are often unpaid but the experience you can gain working on real life campaigns is invaluable. If you are at university, try and get a part-time job at an agency. I’m always amazed by how little work experience graduates obtain whilst at university. Apart from digital marketing knowledge, you will learn so many more skills, such as team working, attention to detail and organisational and time management skills, which in turn can be more than useful for your studies.

Get some technical understanding

It’s important to have some technical understanding. If you are going to specialise in Search engine optimisation, you will have to have a pretty good grasp of the technical ins and outs of a website for certain. But even for other types of digital marketing roles, you will still need to be able to intelligently explain website related items to either clients or you need to be working alongside designers and developers. Here is a great article on how to communicate with your web designer. I would therefore suggest that you get a basic understanding of HTML and CSS. Check out the W3CSchools or Code academy for free. There are also some other online training courses, such as Lynda.com or Webdesign Tuts.

Additional helpful skills

Make sure you are able to use Powerpoint, Word and Excel to a very high standard. Particularly advanced Excel skills could come in handy for analysing large data sets and being able to simplify work for you in the long run. Keyboard short cuts are always real useful to know, as well as 10 finger typing. Any skills that will enable you to speed up or simplify your work will always proof beneficial to you in a fast paced work environment.

Do you need any help moving your digital career forward? Why not get in touch?

You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIN or just email me! I’d love to hear from you.

Photo credit Lee Scott


How to Kickstart your Career in Digital Marketing – Part 1

Path in the sand

Recently I wrote about how to secure an interview at a digital marketing agency, which got a lot of great feedback. As I am just about to start with the next group of digital marketing mentees, who I am helping to get that dream job that they’ve been looking for, I’ve been thinking a lot about a few tips to help you kickstart your career in digital marketing.

Nowadays, for any job really, it’s really important to go that extra mile, as a lot of great job opportunities aren’t necessarily published on a company’s website or a job board any more. Also a lot of employers are looking for candidates who have already got some experience. Don’t despair, I will outline a few tips to make you a more attractive candidate, even if you haven’t had much hands on experience as of yet.

Get your social media profiles in order

I think our HR consultant would disagree to this but everyone who hires in this industry will google the new candidate and check out their social profiles. Make sure that your public profiles are up to scratch, up to date and don’t include any dubious images of you on a drunk night out. If you are serious about finding a job, try and ensure that your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are well maintained. At this stage I would really just concentrate on those two channels. I think having your Facebook page on private is fair enough, I keep my Facebook page private too.

Use your social channels to connect

Do some research on companies that you’d like work for and follow them on their social media accounts, i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Retweet some of their tweets, even ask questions, show an interest in their company and what they share on social media. Also like and share their posts on LinkedIn. Don’t be scared to connect with potential employers on LinkedIn, if they don’t accept your request (I usually only accept requests of people I’ve met in person), follow them anyhow. Dan Schawbel wrote a pretty interesting article on 5 reasons why your online presence will replace your resume in 10 years, which is well worth a read.

Start your own blog

In many digital marketing roles it’s important to show that you are a good writer and not only 140 characters at a time. You don’t necessarily have to start a digital marketing blog. Instead choose a topic you feel passionate about i.e. Food, clothes, sports, music or any other hobby that you may have. I would recommend just to buy a domain with your own name, you may want to change tact at some point in the future and having your own name will make any transition much easier. Having your own domain will enable you to build your own brand. Set up a wordpress blog, choose a theme and off you go. It will show potential employers that you’ve gone through the effort of setting up the blog and shows that you have gone the extra mile. Then try and blog regularly, at least twice a month, more often if you can.

Attend industry specific events

There are tons of industry specific events that are free (!!) and generally anyone is allowed to attend. Sometimes these events have speakers, so you will also be able to learn something in the process. Attending these events is definitely a fantastic opportunity for you to meet potential employers and find out about any upcoming job openings.

In Scotland and London there are the following events on a regular basis:

For other areas in the UK and the rest of the world check out:

It’s a great way to meet new people and connect with potential employers. In my next post I will go into more specifics about skills that come in useful for digital marketing, so watch this space.

Do you need any help moving your digital career forward? Why not get in touch?

You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIN or just email me! I’d love to hear from you.

Photo by Meredith Farmer


How to Secure an Interview at a Digital Marketing Agency

Make it simple but significant_DonDraper

I realise there are so many blog posts and sites out there that offer career, application and interview advice but I’m still always astounded how poor the level of applicants appears to be or at least how poor their abilities are represented in their CV or in their covering letter.

The following tips are specifically for people who want to kick start their digital career or to progress their career within a digital agency environment.

Spend Time on Devising a Covering Letter

Let’s start with the covering letter. We always request a covering letter, as I believe it really offers you a chance to show how eager and determined you are and why you are the right person for job.

90% of the time, I only receive applications with a short email intro, saying: “Hi there, please find attached my CV. Best regards, John Doe.” Really? Is that all you can muster up? Even if a covering letter isn’t explicitly asked for, you should always submit one. This is your chance to stand out from the crowd and bring a bit of personality to your application.

Recently I had an applicant who had just finished a 8 year stint of studying law but fancied a digital marketing role. Please enlighten me! No explanation makes me think you might only be interested in digital marketing because it sounds cool.  Use your covering letter (and your personal statement in your CV) to explain why.

When we were recruiting for our Head of Online Marketing, I received an application that was addressed to Mr Finkelstein. I mean, who the hell is Mr Finkelstein? Sometimes you also get applications that mention another agency’s name. “I would very much like to work at XYZ agency.” Well, why are you applying for a job at Serps? Attention to detail is for me one of the most important requirements a candidate has to bring to the table. Double check what you submit, it’ll go a long way of getting that interview!

Make your CV Stand out from the Crowd

As Don Draper in Mad Men states “Make it simple but significant.”.

I personally don’t care whether you manage to fit your CV on two A4 pages as everyone preaches. My CV doesn’t fit on two A4 pages, how can I ask anyone else to squeeze their CV into such constraints? Your CV is your ticket to get asked in for an interview. When I recruit I often have to look through 30+ CVs for very specialised jobs where certain language skills are required and more than that for graduate and senior roles. Here are some of the most uninspiring CV mistakes that I have encountered over the past year that make me cringe.

  1. No chronological order: I often see CVs that either show their first work experience first or even all over the place. This is confusing, bring your educational history and work experience into chronological order – simple!
  2. Spelling mistakes: No excuse- use your spell checker, print the CV and proof read it again (on screen spelling mistakes are easily overlooked) and get someone else who is a native speaker in the language your CV is written in.
  3. No clear dates: add when you went to university, not just what you studied, also add exact duration for each job you had. Don’t be vague; it will make an employer suspicious.
  4. No formatting and design: I’ve had plenty of great designed CVs where candidates went all out on their Photoshop skills but this is not absolutely necessary. Word provides a whole bunch of free templates that look professional and a bit different and give a little bit of colour to your CV. It’s really dire for a recruiter to look at a badly formatted Times New Roman.
  5. No personal statement: This is where you can highlight your why your passionate about digital, show that you’ve dabbled a bit, that you blog, that you have tried a bit of HTML
  6. Your social media channels are not up to scratch: A recruiter will check out your social media channels. I know legally that’s not meant to be allowed but digital agencies will take a look at your social media channels. So make sure that if you don’t want anyone to see how drunk you were last weekend, to make your Facebook profile private and ensure that you have a LinkedIn profile and that its details match up with your CV! Also make sure if your Twitter profile is public (which I’d recommend) make sure it puts you in a good light.

It’s really not all that difficult to create a good first impression when sending in your CV and cover letter. But it’s well worth spending a little bit of time on preparation, research and a bit of care and attention to detail; you can secure that initial interview and be on your way to kick start that exciting digital career.

Tell me about your experiences when applying for jobs in the digital arena. I’m also a mentor for graduates who want to start a career in a digital environment, get in touch if you need some help! In the next few weeks I will be giving some tips on how to best kick start your digital marketing career.