I remember browsing JobStreet openings way back in 2014 and I came across job postings for Social Media Manager, Community Manager and Digital Marketer in Manila, Philippines. The words social media piqued my interest. So, I continued reading the job descriptions. I was shookt! (btw, the term shookt did not exist those times). There is a job which would require me to be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for 8 hours and I’ll get paid. Of course, I wanted to apply. But, upon learning the requirements, I realized I was far from qualified.
Fast forward 2017, I am already graduating with a degree in Marketing Management and I’ve been an IT Recruiter for more than three years already. (How I juggled school and work at the same time deserves another post). Millennials are very tech and digitally savvy that jobs related to the internet is something which they can do easily because they live and breathe it. I recently interviewed five millennial applicants for a Digital Marketing role we have in our tech start-up company. We ended up hiring the candidate I liked because of her combined skills, personality and performance during three rounds of interview. There were so many applicants for the Digital Marketing role so I thought, why not create a blog on how to help graduating students aspiring to start their careers in digital marketing.
1.Apply for an entry level job.
You must be expecting the first entry to be a tech savvy advice but as recruiter, I believe it is my responsibility to set proper expectations. In recruitment, we have reasons why we are looking for someone with at least three years or more than five years experience depending on the role. It’s not there to be biased against fresh grads. We know how talented young blood are these days but there is a science and business impact behind that. Most of the time, a company cannot afford to train a newly grad without prior experience for a role which they need someone who’s ready to hit the ground working once hired.
But, do not be disheartened. There are so many job openings on Jobstreet, LinkedIn or even your social media sites (Yes, you can find jobs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). And it is possible to get hired as a Digital Marketer in the Philippines straight from graduation. You just have to be patient and see the bigger picture. These jobs, being entry level, may be less lucrative, but, if you stick to that job for two years and learn all the skills you need to learn, once you find your next opportunity, you could already demand for the higher spectrum of the salary range a job is offering. Personally, I prefer skills and attitude (also, not a job hopper) over school name and grades. Whether you are from the Big Four: La Salle, Ateneo, UP or UST; or not, if you have the skills and the right attitude, an employer won’t short you of any bucks just to get you hired.
2. Study the skills needed for the job even if you are still in college.
Now that the first one is out of the bag, here’s my second tip. Start learning new things early. Most of you must be preoccupied with your academic loads especially if you are already doing your thesis. But, it’s not an excuse to be not strategic about your future. Do you honestly expect to stand out among other applicants if your subjects taken in college are similar with other marketing, communication or multimedia arts graduates? You have to establish something that is unique in you. In marketing, we call that Unique Selling Proposition. How would you sell yourself as a Digital Marketer in the Philippines when you do not have a digital class from college? In this case, you can invest on Digital Marketing courses or seminars. Just make a quick Google or Facebook search, you’ll find many organizations who offer digital marketing courses.
Luckily for me, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DSL-CSB) offers a course on Digital Marketing under its Marketing Management program. I was even told, and after some research, we are one of the few schools offering it. Some schools have E-commerce but that is totally different. It’s a segment but digital marketing has broader scope. So, yeah, if you are one of those students enrolled in a school without a Digital Marketing subject just like all five applicants I have interviewed last month, invest in learning new skills. Remember: Skills > Grades. Or better yet enroll in CSB to be mentored by Lyn Ola who has the professional experience to teach the course.
But, attending seminars could be costly and I’ve seen ads which would cost up to 15,000 pesos for a Digital Marketing course. If that is beyond your budget, maybe, you could try online free courses such as Udemy. Just to practice what I preach, even if I already have my Digital Marketing course in school, I ventured into learning more about Marketing because when I graduate, I want to be that candidate with the most relevant knowledge and skills against other applicants. It must be a millennial thing but that’s how competitive I am. Instead of watching your favorite K-Drama or simply browsing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, why not set aside some time to attend free online classes on your chosen field: in this case, digital marketing.
3. Love Analytics (even when you realize, you hate it.)
Now this is something which I do not expect from anyone to do immediately. Simply because it requires a different set of skills which are different from creatively posting updates on Facebook, photos on Instagram or tweets on Twitter. Basic Digital Marketing Analytics is even divided in subgroups such as social media and web. It is even further categorized according to which platform you are using. Well, the good news is that you do not have to master everything but it is vital for you to know the importance of it. Most of the companies have websites and Facebook accounts. So, try to study Google Analytics and Facebook Analytics for starters. This way, when you present social media campaigns or digital campaigns generally, you have the numbers to back you up why you are pursuing such action plan.
Luckily, it’s free (again) to learn them. If you have a Google account, you can create your own Google Analytics account. Now what website will you use for practice. Well, you can create a blog either via WordPress or Blogger and you’re good to go. Think of a topic which you are interested with and write content about it. WordPress has its own analytics tool called (Surprise!) WordPress Analytics. Even if you are using a free account, it’s features are still helpful to analyze your content reach and engagement from site visitors. After that, create a Facebook Page or Twitter Account which again has its own analytics tools. Where am I going with this? This is the part of digital marketing where it is already starting to become a science. You cannot just come up with strategies based on your feelings and aesthetics. It should be backed up by numbers for it to be reliable. The information from any analytics tool are historical and show which strategy worked and should be maintained and which did not, therefore, should be improved.
4. Have a Deeper Understanding of Social Media.
For most people, social media is just all about being a platform to express themselves and gain likes, comments and shares. But, as a digital marketer, it is of utmost importance that you understand each platform to its core. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram together with Snapchat, Tinder and Pinterest, to name a few, are so different than each other. Mostly, it depends on your target market and content. Aside from that, most of these social media platforms have different ways to track engagement and reach so you should be able to use it in creating your posts or campaigns. Similar with my discussion on analytics, you have to understand how your target market reacts to each post, tweet or comment you make. From there, you can slowly build the brand personality your company emulates.
But to add to the complexity of social media, each platform have different rules when it comes to organic and paid posting. It would be not easy to discuss them on writing so perhaps these slides created by Nyx Llamera would simplify the requirements of Facebook:
In each social media platform there are different rules. Imagine being a Digital Marketer for a Business to Consumer (B2C) brand with so many social media accounts. How do you think you’d handle it? Good thing here are softwares such as Hootesuite which helps in scheduling, optimizing and basically organizing your posts. There are paid versions but the free version is still useful.
5. Do not disregard the power of Email Marketing.
This is one thing I will vouch my career for. Email is not dead. Even with the advent of social media, email marketing is still very much alive. If you are applying for a role in a Business to Business (B2B) company, you don’t expect them to be maximizing all social media platforms (it still depends). Nevertheless, there are also techniques which need to be studied when doing email marketing. There are rules to be followed. There is even a law about sending emails; its’s called CAN-SPAM Act. Honestly, it’s not just being followed because it is the right thing to do. But, have you heard about emails bouncing back? Yes, if you did not follow these rules, chances are your email won’t reach your target customer. What if you have 5,000 email recipients and we all know that personalizing is very important in sending emails. How would you do it? Luckily, there are tools which help you do your email marketing faster such as MailChimp. But, what if your company does not have the fund to pay for it? Well, Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook have ways to send emails by bulk, it’s called Mail Merge. It’s a free way of sending email blasts. So, if you need to send 10,000 emails, and you want to address each recipient using their first names, you can learn it here.
There are different usage for email marketing but the most common ones are for promotion, content or updates. While reaching your receiver is very important, together with following the rules, aesthetic is important as it represents the brand. Have you seen how Zamora or Lazada send their email marketing? Well, there are different ways to do it but the ones which I have tried are BEE and Mosaico. Both of them are email editors for designing elegant, responsive messages. It’s a fun way to remind you to never forget the call to action (CTA) button.
6. Learn how a website works.
There are many things you need to learn about a website. But, in order for your thoughts to be organized, ask yourself, what is the purpose of a website? For other companies, it’s brand building, some would say it’s a platform to make sales but others would say it’s a digital address for the brand to increase its reach among its target market.
One of the main things you need to remember when maintaining a website is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Basically, SEO is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. SEO is used to increase a website’s ranking in a certain search engine such as Google and Bing. In context, you want your website to rank higher on the results page on relevant keywords to your content. Ask yourself, how do you browse the results page? Isn’t it you rely mostly on what’s on the first page? Personally, if I do not see what I’m looking for on the first page, I’d change my search string.
- Learn basic Graphic Design.
This is something which is not required in some job openings because there is a different person responsible for graphic design. But, most companies are trying to reduce cost by hiring people with multiple skills. Imagine being in a group of fresh grad applicants . All of you have knowledge on social media, email marketing and SEO. The only difference is all of your competitors have knowledge on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Chances are, they’d pick the one who can execute the visual part of their own digital campaigns. You don’t have to be an expert. Actually, you don’t have to force yourself. Over time , during your college years, try practicing while watching YouTube videos and create your own content.
This is also a great way for you to practice your design skills. Among the five candidates whom I have interviewed for the role, all of them have either utilized Photoshop or Illustrator in the past. So, just to be prepared on the design aspect, start practicing already.
8. Ace your interview.
This is more of a recruiter advice. I’ve seen candidates who have the skills but their personality just do not fit the culture a company is trying to build. I mean, companies are not really strict with personalities they want. But, if you are a person who won’t show any kind of enthusiasm for a job you are applying for, I’d say you expect a negative feedback from your hiring manager. The basics of job interviews would be understanding the company, the role you are applying for and what would be your add on value. Analyze each job requirement and think of a past experience which is related and think of something where you can apply it in the company.
But, for this role, it is crucial that you visit the company’s website, social media presence and Google SEO ranking. It would be better if you can also check its competitors digital presence. Come up with three things you think they need to improve to let them know that you have the potential to become a proactive contributor for the company.
This is a guide for fresh graduates to land on a digital marketing role. Again, this is just a guide. As a marketer and recruiter, these are the things I think which would help you get closer in starting a career on digital marketing. Of course, there are other ways and that is the beauty of life after graduation, whether you feel you are ready or not, it’s up to you if you’ll succeed or not. though, there’s nothing wrong with a little preparation. 🙂