The job market is tough at the moment, and without being too bleak, a significant upturn isn’t likely in the near future. With the furlough scheme coming to an end in October and many businesses suffering from the effects of the pandemic, to secure a digital marketing role, job hunters will be up against more competition than ever.
So, as marketers ourselves, here’s some wisdom from Client Services Director, Helen, to help guide those of you looking to get a foot in the door, whether that’s agency or in-house. Granted – we’re not recruiters but we have been on both sides of the interview table many times before. These are our top 4 tips for standing out when the market is crowded and (fingers crossed!) landing that dream job.
- Don’t rule anything out, even if it’s less than perfect
The location may not be the most desirable, the sectors less than sexy, the role itself hardly ideal. But if you believe you’ve got the right skills and experience, apply anyway.
At interview stage you might be pleasantly surprised to find the job is a perfect fit, or that there are other fantastic roles not yet advertised. And if you aren’t so lucky? Respectfully let the company know post-interview and move on. It will be valuable interview experience and no interviewer will take umbrage with an applicant turning down a job they aren’t 100% committed to.
- Know your target audience
We can tell from the first couple of sentences if an email or letter accompanying a CV is a one-size-fits-all sent out countless times before, or if the applicant has taken time to learn about the role and company before applying. Yes, you might be sending off many applications a day, but doing research will make you stand out against those who don’t bother. Its surprising how far a little knowledge can take you…
- No sh*t Sherlock
Spelling and grammar are so important and can make or break your application. It’s such a simple thing to get right, but the number of applications that we have received containing spelling mistakes or bad grammar is terrifying.
A digital marketing role requires attention to detail. So, if your CV isn’t written to a near-perfect standard, then I’m going to assume that I’ll have to be check your work for errors too. Send your CV to a parent, friend, old boss – anyone who you trust to pick up your mistakes.
- Keep it simple
If you have less than 5 years’ experience, your CV for the role you’re applying to should be no longer than 2 pages. Even if you’re a marketing veteran with 20 plus years behind you, 2 pages should generally be ample. By all means, be creative with layout but keep things easy to read and put your skills and experience centre stage.
As an employer, I want to know what you brought to each role: give me the highlights and successes! On the other hand, I don’t want to know that you are proficient in Word and once went on a school trip to France. Your tone of voice and CV layout will give me a sense of your personality, so adding that you like socialising, skydiving and macramé doesn’t add much apart from extra words.
- And if you’re invited to an interview?
Interview advice isn’t in short supply, so I won’t go over the basics, but these are a few qualities we always like to see.
Be positive. Do not spend the first 10 minutes complaining about bad traffic or how the office was difficult to find (this happened)! In all honesty, I don’t want to hear it. If you’re going to moan at an interview, how can I expect you to act on a wet Tuesday morning when your tram was late…
Be appropriately dressed. Sounds like a no brainer but we have seen applicants arrive looking ready to go on stage at burlesque show, and some who look like they have popped in after doing the gardening. Make sure your outfit is clean, ironed and suitable for the role you’re applying for. If you’re a creative, nobody expects a suit. If you’re interviewing for a client facing role, we just don’t want you to scare the horses. If there is a dress code, the hiring manager will inform you pre-interview.
Be on time. So simple, but I would say at least 5% – 10% of applicants have been late. Even if only by 2 minutes, at this stage I am watching the clock, and how you deal with lateness (because sometimes it is unavoidable) tells me an awful lot about you.
Be honest. Don’t big up experience if it’s not there or say that you’re familiar with software you’re not. If you get the job, it will make for a very stressful start all round. If we think that a candidate is right for the role bar a few missing skills we would look at training. If you’re applying at a B2B marketing agency, gen up on what “B2B” means beforehand, and don’t bluff it if you don’t know and tell the interviewer they are wrong! (Yes, this one happened too).
Finally, be yourself. It takes all kinds of personalities to create a workplace and being true to yourself in an interview will always stand you in good stead. Interviewers know that you’re nervous, but if we can see that you have a sense of humour and can be honest about yourself it does make a difference.
To all of those currently job hunting, we wish you all the luck and hope that very soon you’re walking into your dream role.