Forward Role guest lecture

Earlier this year Emma Allison, Head of Marketing, from Forward Role delivered a guest lecture on securing your first digital marketing role to add digital and social media marketing students (October 14, 2019). She provided some amazing tips for students wanting to work in the digital marketing industry. This includes gaining work experience (even as an intern) and opportunities with local not-for-profit organisations (that are “crying out” for help with their digital strategy). The slides to Emma’s presentation are found here

Here is a summary prepared by Emma:

Earlier this week I was invited into The University of Huddersfield’s Business School by Dr Raisa Yakimova, Senior Lecturer in Marketing. I was asked to talk to the final year digital degree students about the industry they’re entering into and how to go about getting their first digital marketing job.

As Head of Marketing at Forward Role, the north’s largest marketing and digital recruitment agency, I regularly observe the amount of opportunity out there in the industry – but also see the high level of competition that graduates are faced with.

The good news for digital graduates is that we’re currently experiencing major global talent shortages across digital, data and technology and because of the constant change that new technology such as AI, AR/VR, Blockchain and Machine Learning brings to the industry, the landscape will continue to evolve and businesses will likely continue to invest, to keep ahead of their competitors.

For graduates however, more demand means more interest and recent stats published in The Graduate Market in 2019 Report show that ‘Over two-fifths of the UK’s leading employers said they had received more completed graduate job applications during the early part of the recruitment season than they had last year and a third also believed the quality of applications had improved.’

How to get ahead in the job market

My advice to all soon-to-be graduates, on how to go about getting your first job, is to make your own luck. Getting a job after university is hard and so you need to invest time and effort to making that happen. Thinking about the experience I’ve gained and looking back at how I secured my first marketing role, my advice would be to do the following;

Go direct to brands

Draw up a list of target brands and local companies, looking at ‘hot lists’ and ‘growth lists’. Use LinkedIn to get the names of the hiring managers and HR team and contact them all to see if they have any graduate opportunities. Remember it’s not all about the big household name brands as there are many benefits of working for an SME.

To be successful in this approach invest time and treat your job hunt like a job of its own. Dedicate entire days or afternoons and be relentless! Once you have submitted all of your applications, follow them up with a phone call, asking each business if they have received your CV. By asking for feedback and what they are looking for you’ll show passion and get your application much higher up the pile.

Use aggregators and job boards

If you’ve not already, set up job alerts on aggregator sites like Indeed and Google for Jobs. There are lots of different job titles variations at entry level but setting alerts for ‘digital marketing executive’, ‘assistant’, ‘coordinator’ and ‘graduate’ is the best place to start. Make sure that you also register your CV on all of the different job boards; Monster, Reed, Total Jobs etc.

Work your network

Who do you know in marketing? Who do your parents know? Who do your best friend’s parents know? Your network is your most powerful tool as your career progresses so make sure that you tap into it. If you don’t yet have a network now is the time to start building it – attend industry events and networking sessions to grow your contacts.

Speak to recruiters

Recruitment agencies are perfectly placed for helping you understand the market and identify opportunities. Rather than just sending in a CV, why not ask a recruiter in your industry if you can meet with them to show off your personality. A good recruiter will help you throughout your career providing industry advice, help and support.

Create the perfect CV

When it comes to creating the perfect CV there are some key things that you need to remember.

  1. Include a precis or career profile section at the top of your CV. This replaces the need for a cover letter so tailor it for every
  2. Put your CV in reverse chronological order, most recent experience first.
  3. Only include relevant work experience – unfortunately your part time job in KFC isn’t going to help you.
  4. Your experience is the most important part but use bullet points not essay paragraphs! Remember that an average of 10 seconds is all that someone will spend scanning your CV.
  5. Hobbies make you interesting and people want to work with interesting people, so mention your interests outside of work and studying.
  6. CV’s don’t have to be boring so don’t be scared to include some personality!
  7. Keep your CV to 2 pages max (for now).

How to gain crucial work experience

For many employers, work experience is seen as just as important as having a degree and those who leave University without any, will be starting their job search with a disadvantage.

To support students in getting the experience they need, more than four-fifths of the country’s top graduate employers offered ‘paid work experience programs for students and recent graduates during the 2018-2019 academic year, providing a total of 13,098 places’, The Graduate Market in 2019 Report.

However getting onto a paid internship is just one of the ways that you can gain experience. Instead you could offer your services for free by seeking out unpaid placements and work experience. Or you could market something yourself? If you know of any small businesses, such as self-employed hairdressers, or local florists why not reach out and see if you can practice basic marketing skills by helping them to promote their business.

Another way to gain work experience is by teaching yourself something new. Whether that be learning how to use Photoshop or Google Analytics, there are so many free trials and online demos available to make use of.

Finally if none of those suggestions sound achievable, one thing you can absolutely do yourself is to blog, vlog or create a social media account around something you’re passionate about. Employers will be impressed if you can show your creative writing skills off and demonstrate how you’re able to create a community online.

For more help and advice on how to get your first digital marketing job after leaving university follow Forward Role on LinkedIn or get a free CV health check by sending it over to the team – [email protected].

Written by Emma Allison, Head of Marketing at Forward Role.

Dr Raisa Yakimova, Senior Lecturer, The University of Huddersfield
Dr Raisa Yakimova
Senior Lecturer
The University of Huddersfield
Leads Digital & Social Media Marketing BA (Hons)
Marketing Me – The World of Digital Marketing and Finding Your First Role

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