Things I Learned From a Year of Recruiting for a Digital Marketing Agency
The common issue of changing careers or starting a career once you have left University/College is that you are required you have to experience – ideally commercial experience – before you are even considered for a position.
I was responsible for recruiting for a large digital media agency for a year and I learned a few things from the process that myself and my bosses used to choose candidates – and a few trends were common – these I decided to share with you.
1. The energy and genuine interest
When you apply, make sure you let the agency/company know from the very first message, to covering letter, to CV and (if lucky) the interview that they are of great interest to you. It is disheartening to an interviewer when you don’t even know what the company’s website looks like.
A few tips here:
- Really Read the company website and do your research. For example who will be potentially interviewing you? Use Twitter, LinkedIn, a search engine such as Google/Bing to find more details. (Example search for the name is here and an example search for the last week – to find out what someone have been up to recently here).
- Mention your favourite things/findings in your introductory email and in the interview to show you’ve done your research. For example you may find they have a social night or that they sponsor an event of some kind – be sure to mention this as it shows that you care about the company culture. (from the queries above I looked at his recent Google+ entries and saw a VW ad he shared: https://plus.google.com/+BasvandenBeld/posts/MpsLBexAqhs – Great talking point here)
- Prepare an answer to the question ‘why do you want to join us?’. Most companies will ask questions like this so have a solid answer. Try not to say things like ‘I think you’re cutting edge’ or worse ‘I like your website’ (Great example being ‘I like your holistic approach to search’ or ‘I agreed with your recent blog posts and think that our views for the future of search are aligned’)
2. Past experience – working knowledge/personal projects
Not having a commercial experience is not an excuse not to have any experience. With this in mind, here are a few ways that you can show a genuine interest in the Digital Media Space.
- Start your own project– have a website or a blog
- Make a fake project!– search for ‘how I would do SEO for’ to find a few examples (examples below)
- Demonstrate use of social media accounts & creative thinking
- Keep up with Digital Media news and show that you know what is current in the industry
Example #1 – Microsoft Slate Re-branding
A prime example of this is – the Microsoft Slate Amazing Rebranding:
Andrew Kim – the guy behind this – simply created a concept of a new branding for Microsoft’s tablet. It gave him amazing coverageand opened many doors.
He did invest a lot of time but most importantly showed his skills applied to something. If you make the effort to show your skills it will speak louder than hundreds of words and a list of items on a CV.
Example #2 – SEO for Rap Genius
In another niche, Tom Harari posted an entry for Moz about how he would do SEO for Rap Genius: http://moz.com/blog/how-i-would-do-seo-for-rap-genius
Do check it out too – great way to demonstrate your skills in SEO.
Example #3 – Using a Popular Topic
Using a popular topic for your benefit can also result in great coverage and give you something to talk about, a good example are these snowflake patterns inspired by Game of Thrones:
Depending on which kind of digital aspect you wish to start a career in I bet you can come up with a few ideas like this and execute them.
3. Keep your social profiles clean and professional
This is not to say that I or anyone else in the industry ‘would’ look up a candidate on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn – but this is a possibility.
Having a professional photo on your social profiles with clean content is a good idea. This means not too much political stuff and definitely no shots from the last night out that ended up badly 🙂
You should have and cultivate the following social media accounts:
A good example of this is Patrick Hathaway who spoke at Brighton SEO in April 2014 and actually was recruited using Twitter – which in itself is a sign of how good his social profiles and presence is.
Here are Patrick’s social accounts to give you an example of best practices in real life:
Signs of a good social profile (some only apply to Twitter):
- A good ratio of followers vs following (if you’re following 10,000 people on twitter and only 800 follow you back – it may look to some as a spammy account and that you don’t really care whom you follow)
- Interaction with the posts (ideally some of your posts should get favourite or retweeted and answered to)
- Posts at least daily on one of the networks
- Sharing of professional content (not only personal stuff – Facebook excluded)
- All of the profile information present (especially on LinkedIn)
I hate this word – and I hate networking. When I was just starting out I tried to network. I was horrible. Just trying to speak to random people about myself and my skills etc – I was horrified each time etc.
A good way to engage with people is to read about what they do. What interests them?
If someone in their twitter bio has an interest like@kirsty_hulse and her passion for Sci-Fi and board games. That’s a very particular interest! Wait for May the 4th and shoot her the best piece of content about Star Wars you can find – you’re not networking anymore, you’re sharing a laugh. There’s no way she won’t ‘lol’ back at you.
I would also consider attending some SEO conferences – here’s a handy list by Sam Noble http://www.stateofdigital.com/events-conferences-2014/.
- Engage with people you want to meet in a creative way, don’t just send emails out, put some effort in.
- Don’t always count for a response – people are busy.
- Simply listen on social for them asking questions, or posting their content – then share it to your network, comment on their blog posts or work.
Interact, help, share, comment, like, tweet, pin etc – and only then expect help back. Soon enough networking won’t be a chore – you will be able to meet friends whom you met online first – that’s all.
I will end with a few quotes from fellow digital marketers who answered what they look for in candidates:
@krystianszastok I always preferred candidates that have made things on their own to those that have a bunch of degrees.
— MyCool King (@iPullRank) April 30, 2014
@krystianszastok Build a community of people you trust, share views, experiences & opinions on reputable blogs, get your name out there.
— Modestos Siotos (@Modestos_) April 30, 2014
@krystianszastok Giving examples of campaign results impress me more than industry certifications.
— Marc Bitanga (@marcbitanga) April 30, 2014
Feel free to ask questions if you feel you have a barrier getting in to digital and I’ll be happy to answer.
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