If you’re a recent graduate, it can be tough to land your first digital marketing role. You may be fresh out of university without much work experience. Or you may have had to take an unrelated role after graduating and now seek to get into something that’s closer to your true calling. To land that first digital marketing role, it's important that you overcome these four potential pitfalls.
Swallow your pride
You may have just completed four years of university or professional work, but the fact is that you’re still likely to be viewed as largely inexperienced when looking for your first digital marketing role. Even a specialization in marketing through online or offline courses rarely make up for that shortcoming. The digital marketing industry is very fast paced, making it hard for course content to keep up with current best practices in the industry. As a result, you may find that many roles require skills you don’t yet have.
While it’s always good to set your sights high, it’s important to be realistic about your expectations for your first post-graduate job. If you don’t yet have much work experience, be prepared to consider entry level jobs or even internships to build up your knowledge.
This is how Patrick Robinson, Marketing Executive at Linx Printing Technologies, started out. He realized that he needed to gain experience before he could be considered for the role he wanted, so he looked for an entry level position that offered training.
“It was a bit of a struggle as I had no marketing experience other than my degree. Luckily the company where I got my first job were looking for someone that could gain experience in the role rather than already having the experience.”
A great way to find your place in the job market is to apply for jobs of different pay grades, experience requirements, and seniority, using a carefully tailored resume for each. By noting the ones that you get invited to an interview for, you’ll start to see how employers see you, and what level of job you should expect to get.
Tailor your cover letter and resume for a digital role
It’s essential that you tailor your resume and cover letter specifically for the digital marketing role you’re applying for. There’s no point going into great detail about non-digital experiences that aren’t relevant to the role.
Read between the lines of the job ad to understand exactly what they’re after. What are the key skills, tools, and portfolio pieces you need to highlight to land the job? Ensure your resume is focused around portraying these skills, omitting anything that isn’t relevant to the industry.
This is especially important for anyone who is moving into digital marketing from a different discipline. Verity Prentice at Hallmark Care Homes had this experience when moving into her digital marketing role.
Verity had to ensure that her application was tailored around the needs of the job she was applying to, despite having a background in journalism and leaving a sales role. She focused her application around the transferable skills she had rather than going into excessive detail on specific journalism or sales related aspects of her experience.
“I saw the opportunity at Hallmark and thought it matched my skills and qualifications perfectly.”
Having a long resume that says very little
Most recruiters and hiring managers are quick to throw out applications that don’t stand out, and that includes long, convoluted resumes. For digital marketing roles, this can even mean that offline marketing experience could be considered irrelevant, especially for highly specific or technical roles. For example if you’re looking to get into an SEO role, there’s no point basing the bulk of your application about your detailed knowledge of leaflet marketing.
Similarly, you may have worked on a lot of projects that demonstrate the skills that the employer is after. It can be tempting to try and cram everything into your application, but the truth is that some of your experiences will be stronger or more relevant than others. Make it easier for the recruiter to go through your application by highlighting the best bits. You have a limited amount of space, so use it wisely!
A useful way to cut the wheat from the chaff in your application is by considering all the key digital skills the job requires across the top of a spreadsheet. Then, under each skill, write a list of experiences that satisfy these. Rank them in order, with the strongest at the top. Add these experiences to your resume in this order. When you’ve filled a page (or two, if you have a lot of experience), leave out any skills that remain.
Getting into the wrong industry
Coming straight out of university, you’re likely to have two main aims: getting into your dream career in digital marketing, and getting into a job quickly. Unfortunately, these two goals don’t always align. As you’ll look to start earning a salary and paying off your student debt straight away, you may need to take a role in a non-related industry, or one that’s not at graduate-level.
Once you’re in a non-digital role, it can be tough to get back, due to the fast moving nature of the industry. The truth is however, that many people take a wrong turn in their career at some stage, so be grateful that you’ve done this early on in your career so you can learn from it!
The challenge you’ll face is to get your career back on track by focusing your resume around digital marketing. This may mean looking for ways to build relevant experience outside of your day job.
Adding certificates like these to your resume can be the gateway you need into the industry, especially if you don’t have any recent, relevant work experience. They show you're eager to learn and willing to put in the effort. Alongside careful applications and a diligent search, you'll land your first role in no time.