How to Land a Job in Digital Marketing

Tom earned his master’s in IMC from WVU and his bachelor’s in public relations from Utica College of Syracuse University. He joined the Site-Seeker team in 2013 as an account manager.

Today, there’s so much overlap in our industry. Folks with backgrounds in communication arts, marketing, public relations, business management, computer science and beyond are all vying for the same positions. And competition is thick. From recent grads to seasoned pros, the world of digital marketing has people applying at all times in all types of businesses. I’ve been there, done that like Dr. Dre, and I’ve picked up a few pointers along the way – from both experience and conversations with those who hired me. So if you’re on the job hunt, here’s some tips to get you caught up to speed and better prepare for that next job interview.

1) Use Social Media to Connect with People

$5 says you read that headline and thought: “I’m all set there.”

But I bet you’re not.

I’m not talking about networking *just* when you’re job searching. This needs to be done well in advance. I’ve landed two jobs because of my social media outreach. Both of which were from relationships I cultivated more than 3 years before I actually applied to those companies. Yep. I maintained relationships for three years before I capitalized on them! As I began to job search, I already had dozens, if not hundreds of people at my disposal to reach out to and ask to spread the word that I was on the hunt. Thankfully, it worked out well for me.

You can’t just create a Twitter account and expect to land a job because you’re now present. This is a long-term commitment and tactic. But it’s one of the most important ones, especially because of the industry we are in. It’s a small world. And people hire people they trust. If a hiring manager has gotten to know you, even if it’s just through tweets, he/she is more likely to set up that interview to get to know you more. Participating in Twitter chats, commenting on company and personal blogs, and answering questions in LinkedIn Groups are all great ways to meet and connect with people and establish yourself as an active leader.

Here are some Twitter chats you should be participating in on a regular basis. Find out the times and engage each week to learn from the best out there. Follow them after the chats and you will likely get a follow back.

You’ll want to be sure you’re following companies that you’re interested in on LinkedIn too. By doing so, you can more quickly see new jobs that are posted. And here’s some groups on LinkedIn you’ll want to join and start participating in:

Again, this is more of a long-term tactic, but it’s one that cannot be overlooked. And plus, you have to start somewhere. Get online and start talking with people today. And when you do network IRL (in real life), make sure to follow up with request to connect afterwards.

2) Always be Professional on the Web

I shouldn’t even have to include this one. But at the same time, I know I must. Digital marketing is all about the web and all about transparency. You can’t apply for a job and expect hiring managers to not have checked out your social media pages. And they aren’t looking at just LinkedIn (the site you’re okay with them seeing). They are looking at Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more. Oh, you have your privacy settings on high so you’re covered? Nice try. I’ve heard first-hand stories of hiring mangers who asked their employees who were friends with candidates to login and show them Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. In fact, I’ve been asked to do it myself. Sorry, [can’t name the person in this post, because he/she didn’t get the job]!

Be thorough in how you describe yourself. Ask a friend to take a nice headshot of yourself. And be professional and respectful in all your communication to establish connections. I’m not saying to not be yourself. And I’m not saying you can’t have fun on social, if you’re using it for personal use too. But you have to be cautious with what you do and say. Because you’re being watched. Most people are okay with posts about pop culture and even passionate opinions. But there’s certainly a thick line between knocking a political candidate and posting drunk pics from last Friday.

If it’s on the web, you are never truly private. According to Career Builder, more than two in five (43 percent) hiring managers who research candidates via social media said they have found information that has caused them to not hire a candidate, up 9 percentage points from last year. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that this stat is pretty overwhelming. There’s some additional stats in the graphic below. Let’s clean it up, guys.

3) Learn Outside of the Classroom

This one is my favorite.

Many of the skills that digital marketers use aren’t skills they learned in school. Quite frankly, many schools don’t even offer this kind of stuff (at least, yet). Things like pay-per-click management and SEO still aren’t very popular in PR and marketing programs. Ahh, maybe someday…

The good news, however, is that you can teach yourself. Hooray!? Well, it’s not all that easy and takes a lot of time and commitment. But there is plenty of research out there for you to start studying and even certifications available that can lend you some credibility. Study for the Google AdWords certification test and pass it. Take up Code Academy to learn the ins and outs of coding. Stop by your local community college and see if they offer any training sessions on social media. These resume-building accolades can go a long way since not everyone can prove their skills in these disciplines with actual evidence.

Here’s some of my favorite publication and blogs you’ll want to read on a regular basis to quickly get up to speed on the new trends in our industry:

Become familiar with these software too. Download a free trial and test things out. Or request a demo (and just lie about working for a company, muahaha!).

Banner ads are going out of style. But social media advertising continues to increase as more and more brands see value. Create test ads and become familiar with how to run ad campaigns on the following channels:

Beyond establishing connections and making yourself look great on the web, go one step further and ask for informational interviews. Most digital marketing departments or agencies have high turnover, simply because it’s a very competitive field and clients often dictate if a team needs to rapidly downsize or rapidly expand. So most hiring mangers are often open to meeting and learning who you are and what the talent pool looks like at any given time. After establishing a connection over social, reach out and ask for a 15 or 30 minute coffee chat. (You buy the coffee!). Get to know the person and his/her company, and slide in a few great points about yourself. Don’t forget your resume either!

Attending online webinars and in-person conferences are still great ways to meet people. Follow up afterwards with those you met and begin engaging online. MarketingProfs, HubSpot and Vocus often have webinars that are super educational. Save up a couple hundred dollars to attend a big conference in a city nearby and learn from the biggest and best(est) marketers out there today. This first hand information is invaluable.

Some great marketing conferences include:

Finally, create an account with elance.com. Here, you can put your skills to use in the freelance world. This can help you continue to develop your skills and hopefully land some clients that might turn into a full time gig down the road.

4) Practice What You Preach

You can’t apply for a job at a company that creates websites and not have a website of your own. You can’t apply for a social media position and only have accounts on Facebook and Twitter (c’mon, even 80 year olds have those!). And you can’t apply for a position that manages clients if you’ve never held a position before that interacted with people.

It is 100% guaranteed that the hiring manager will stalk you before you meet. You have to have your bases covered.

Pimp the ishhh out of your LinkedIn profile. I’m not talking about just updated information. I want to see recommendations from your past co-workers, clients and partners. I want you to upload slide decks and articles that you’ve published. I want you to describe the work you’ve done at your past job…in detail. I want you to include volunteer work you’ve done and classes you’ve taken (if you’re a recent grad). LinkedIn expands their profile offerings every few months. Take advantage and make your profile stand out.

Going another step beyond creating accounts, you have to make sure you are active and engaged. If you are looking for a job in digital marketing, you have to walk the walk. Demonstrate your blogging skills, showcase your multimedia skills, and show how you can use content marketing to sell yourself. Because if you can do it really well for yourself, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to do it for a business.

If you are applying for a job where you will be doing social media and digital marketing, you should have a good working knowledge of how these work:

  • Instagram
  • WordPress
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Constant Contact

And you should be familiar with these too:

  • Vine
  • SlideShare
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • iMovie

Take up blogging and vlogging and start creating content that will resonate with the companies you are looking to apply. Make posts that will benefit them. If you’ve already established a connection, tweet or share the article or video with them. They’ll become educated on the topic that you’re discussing and they’ll see your skills at the same time. If you’re applying at an agency, research their clients and serve up content that will benefit them. Like this:

They’ll enjoy this for sure. And they aren’t stupid, they’ll know what you are doing. And guarantee they’ll appreciate your aggressiveness and drive.

5) It’s All About the First Impressions, Baby

Okay, last one I promise.

This one isn’t even about marketing, your awesome $100,000 piece of paper (oops, I mean degree), or the 20 years of experience you have. This isn’t something that can be taught, really, but it’s probably the most important thing that any company is looking for in an interview. Go ahead and ask any hiring manager. Ahh yes, personality and first impressions.

Naturally, you have to be a good fit within the company’s culture. And you have to be a good teammate. But you only have 60 minutes (or 120 if you’re lucky) to demonstrate why you should be hired. Are you a rockstar interviewee? Okay, you can stop reading. Thanks for checking out the post. But if you’re boring, dry, dull and have no sense of humor (or fall somewhere in the middle), here’s some basic and traditional tips that can help get you noticed and remembered (in a positive way) by a hiring manager.

  • Wear a suit to your interview. Most digital marketing agencies are pretty laid back and staff wear business casual, or even casual outfits, on a daily basis. Listen. I don’t care if they told you that you could wear shorts, flip flops, and a golden Flava Flav clock to the interview. You wear a suit. And if you’re a guy, make the tie blue or red. It sends off a professional vibe.
  • Smile. Always smile. This gives those around you the impression that you’re engaged and excited about the work you do or will be doing. Cat just died before the interview? Sorry to hear that. Smile anyways, or you will not get the job. I promise you.
  • Shake hands with everyone you meet. Secretary, hiring manger, CEO, janitor, everyone. Make it firm. Make it balanced. Your non-verbal queues are ridiculously important and need to send positive messages, even when you aren’t speaking.
  • Show them your personality. Tell them stories. Be honest. Open up. They are hiring a person, not a machine. Many people can learn SEO and marketing. But you can’t train someone to be hard-working, loyal, fun, motivated. If you have these traits, you need to somehow communicate them, because these qualities carry more weight than anything found in your resume. When asked question about technical skills, share stories that both answer the question but also showcase your great personality.
  • Send hand-written thank you notes to EVERYONE who takes the time to meet with you. No matter how big social media gets, hand-written notes will never go out of style. A good trick is to have the notes ready to go in your car and then jot the names on them right after the interview and drop them in a nearby mailbox. This way, the letters get back to them in two days tops.

If you’re still with me after 2,100 words, then I’ll assume you’re truly serious about getting hired for a digital marketing job. Congrats! We have a spot open for you! Just kidding. Although, follow us and we might have something soon.

These tricks aren’t sure-fire, but if you are able to put effort in, you should be on your way to landing a quality job. It’s a lot of work, don’t get me wrong. But look at the bright side, you’ll be learning more about your trade and meeting new people in the process. How can that *not* turn into something good?