Proven Tips to Stand Out for Roles in this Fast-Growing Field

Demand for digital marketers has nearly doubled since 2012. Companies of all sizes need people with social media, SEO, or email marketing skills to attract and retain new customers.

So how do you break into the field? Whether you like conducting research, developing creative campaigns, writing copy, or investigating analytics, there’s likely a digital marketing role for you. Here are a few key steps you can take to make yourself a competitive applicant.

Hone and Highlight Your Skills

Today’s marketers need to be well-versed in both the foundations and strategy of marketing AND in the latest technologies and platforms. Once you’ve taken the Facebook Digital Marketing Certificate, brush up on tools like Google Analytics, Hubspot, Google Ads and Facebook Ads and then consider passing their certification exams so you can add them to your LinkedIn profile.

It also helps to stay up to date with trends in the marketing field by reading publications like AdWeek, The Next Web, Digiday, Think with Google, and PR Week.

However, don’t worry if you feel like you haven’t mastered every new tool and trend. Part of being an effective digital marketer is showing that you can learn quickly on the job. Even if you master Facebook Ads Manager today, the product will likely have evolved by next year. Demonstrating that you know how to keep pace with trends, teach yourself, and master new technologies can sometimes be even more important than demonstrating you have 100% mastery of all current platforms.

Build Your Portfolio

Prospective employers are often eager to see evidence of the marketing campaigns you have successfully executed in past roles. They particularly like portfolios that tell an “end to end” story of the projects you launched. Use tools like Squarespace, Wix, Crevado, CarbonMade, or PortfolioBox to put together an online gallery of your work.

In addition to putting together a visually compelling portfolio, you should include short descriptions that highlight things like:

  • What were the goals of your campaign?
  • What marketing assets did you develop? Include a short rationale for why you chose to use things like video, certain visuals, or specific banner images.
  • What channels did you use? Why?
  • What results did you achieve? What was the overall business impact?

Reviewing your portfolio can also be a great way to prepare for interviews. It will give you a stockpile of relevant projects and examples you can draw upon when answering questions. Looking for some inspiration? Here are strong examples of portfolios from Pathstream students, Dorian Block and Xena Nguyen. We also like this portfolio from copywriter Gari Cruze and designer Adhemas Batista. You can find 11 more compelling sample portfolios here.

Explore Freelance Work

While you look for a full-time job, consider pursuing freelance marketing work to gain experience and build your portfolio. You might even realize you can build your own client base and start your own independent marketing business! To begin, check out Fiverr’s free course on Online Freelancing Essentials to gain some tips on how to establish your profile. Then, consider looking for marketing gigs on sites including UpWork, Fiverr, Toptal, Behance, and 99Designs. You can find micro-internships or short-term projects specifically geared towards students on Parker Dewey. Once you complete these projects, make sure to add them to your portfolio, LinkedIn profile and resume to highlight the relevant skills you’ve gained.

You can also find more advice on how to start your freelancing career in Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide to Freelancing and in these Medium posts here and here about how to recruit your first clients.

Find a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship

Are you looking for additional mentorship in the marketing field? An apprenticeship is a structured on-the-job learning program that can help you do real work while also continuing to learn. Acadium offers fully online apprenticeships. While these are not paid opportunities, you get paired with a small business and gain 1:1 mentorship from a more experienced marketer or entrepreneur while you execute digital marketing projects you can add to your portfolio.

Digital Creative Institute in Texas offers a Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship in digital marketing. You’ll join a cohort of 10 other apprentices for structured learning and then a placement with a local business. Learn more and apply here.

Submit Your Resume to a Creative Agency

Staffing agencies and creative agencies often source candidates for both contract marketing work and permanent positions. Create a profile with these agencies so that they can refer you if they have a client in search of your skillset. Keep in mind that many of these agencies will often take a percentage of your salary in exchange for making the match, but this can often be worthwhile if it helps you get in the door. Agencies that specialize in digital marketing positions include Artisan Talent, Mondo, Marketpro, Sparks Group, iCreatives and The Creative Group.

Set Up Alerts for Entry-Level Digital Marketing Roles and Perfect Your Resume

Ready to start applying for entry-level marketing jobs? Set up alerts on job boards including Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Wayup, Handshake, and Mathison so you get an email when new opportunities that meet your criteria are posted. Additionally, identify a shortlist of 5–10 companies in your target market that you would love to work for. Regularly monitor their job boards to see when they post new marketing roles and, ideally, set up informational interviews or coffee chats proactively with people who currently work there so you can begin to build relationships before you even apply. You can find these individuals on LinkedIn (make sure to set up a profile if you haven’t already!) and identify relevant contacts using these tips. Don’t be afraid to reach out to members of your extended network and ask them for introductions.

When you see opportunities that align with what you’re looking for, read the job posting carefully and then build a resume that highlights relevant experience aligned to the job requirements. Use sites like JobScan to see how closely your resume matches the job description. Don’t forget to include a “skills” section on your resume that highlights your specific digital marketing competencies and the tools/technologies you have mastered. These will likely be filtered for by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) so it can be helpful to make sure you have highlighted relevant keywords. Get a headstart on this process by using a tools like the Emsi Skills Extractor that allows you to copy and paste the text from your resume and then extracts relevant skills keywords to highlight.

Finally, make sure to have someone proofread and provide feedback on your resume and cover letter! Digital marketing requires attention to detail so make sure your application materials embody the care and attention needed to do the job well.

Prepare For Your Interview

You’ve applied for the job and now are lucky enough to get called back for an interview. Congratulations! If you’ve made it to this phase, it means that your application and skills stood out and the company is interested in learning more about you.

The first step is frequently a phone screen, which is usually a 30–40 minute preliminary conversation with the recruiter or hiring manager to get a sense of your background and potential fit for the role. Do your research on the company so that you understand key facts about their business and who works there. Particularly for marketing roles, you should be sure to check out the company’s existing social media and marketing campaigns. Subscribe to their newsletter, blog or podcast if you can.

It can also be helpful to search the “news” tab on Google to find any recent press mentions about the company so you can see what might be top-of-mind for people that work there. It also often helps to search for the company’s or CEO’s name on Google, YouTube and in a podcast app to find any recent interviews that company leaders have conducted. Listening to these can give you more inside scoop into how the business thinks and what they are currently working on.

Finally, make sure you have re-read the job description. Think about how you could highlight your past experience and tell the story of why you want this job in around 2–3 minutes. Think through your recent professional experience and come up with specific stories and examples of when you have performed similar responsibilities. You can find some sample digital marketing interview questions here and here. Don’t be afraid to have a friend or relative practice running you through some of them so that you practice answering in succinct but detailed ways. You can also use a tool like Talk Hiring to record your answers and get instant feedback. Practice makes perfect!

Get Ready for Trial Tasks

Many companies will require applicants to complete a “trial task” when they apply for a digital marketing role. These are usually take-home assignments that you will have anywhere from 24 hours to 1 week to complete to show how you would approach tasks similar to ones you would have to do on the job. In some cases, companies will pay you a small amount to complete these projects; in other cases, compensation might not be offered but they should impose a clear time limit and make it clear that your work will not be reused. You can read more about these trial projects here, here and here to gain more background on how to approach these.

For digital marketing roles specifically, a trial task will often consist of asking the candidate to (a) propose how they would approach the development of a campaign for a specific purpose or (b) examine the current campaign/social media/email marketing of a company and propose ways to make them better.

To get ready for these, it can be helpful to always take a look at the current marketing efforts of the company you are interviewing — and take a look at their competitors. Additionally you can b begin to stockpile examples of marketing campaigns you admire from other companies. Building a repository of sample marketing assets can give you a rich source of material to draw from when you are trying to complete these tasks and come up with ideas. Finally, although you should complete the task independently, it can often be helpful to ask someone else to proofread your work before you submit just to make sure you caught any grammatical errors or other small things that might detract from your submission.

Negotiate Your Salary

Congratulations! You’ve received an offer (or at least reached the point in the interview process where they ask you about salary expectations). How should you respond?

Nationally, entry-level digital marketing jobs pay about $45k, but that can jump to $75k or higher once you have five years of relevant experience. Use tools like Burning Glass and GlassDoor to find salary information for your local market so you gain a sense of the potential range. You can also use this helpful article to find projections for specific types of marketing roles. Generally, the more technical skills you have and the more management responsibility you take on, the more your salary can grow. Approach an interview process armed with a sense of your target salary, based on your own budget and needs, but be willing to be flexible if this is your first job in the marketing field. Sometimes you may need to temporarily take a pay cut if you are switching into a totally new career area, but, in the long run, digital marketing is a growing field and you should be able to keep progressively earning more as you master new skills and stick with it. Review this article from the Harvard Business Review for some helpful tips on how to negotiate your final offer.

Ready to Start Your Digital Marketing Career?

Sign up for The Facebook Digital Marketing Program offered through Pathstream and our college and university partners.

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