To put it mildly, the Class of 2022 faced a variety of unique challenges during our college years that few cohorts had ever experienced before. Take for example remote learning during a pandemic, employment uncertainty in a constantly changing job market for college grads, and a social life primarily devoid of in-person hangouts and events.
Yet, like many college grads before us, searching for a job after college still feels very stressful. How can we translate our college experiences into a resume that employers will actually read? What skills will set us apart? What if we have very little actual marketing experience?
It can feel difficult to know where to start, much less how to set ourselves up for success when we do land that important interview.
Fortunately there are steps recent grads can take to land their first digital marketing job after college. I’m happy to report that I’m writing to you from my new job as SEO Analyst at Workshop Digital! In this post, we will cover how to successfully leverage various skills, experiences (both in the classroom and extracurricular), and non-marketing jobs and internships during the hiring process.
When creating your resume and interviewing, it is important to highlight your hard and soft skills. Hard skills include concrete items, such as certifications or trainings that you completed. Soft skills are what you can develop over time, such as customer service, leadership, and creative thinking.
Regardless of whether or not your past experiences are in the field you’re interested in, you gained some sort of skill set that can help you in future employment opportunities—so highlight them! If you were a waiter at a restaurant, you improved your attention to detail, communication, and ability to work with people. My past internship was sales and recruiting based, so I worked on expanding my skills in communication, time management, and working with a large team. Identify what soft skills you gained in each previous internship or job and write that down in your resume.
Not sure where to start? We’ve put together this guide for how to get started in digital marketing for recent grads just like you!
Inside and Outside of the Classroom
It is important to outline what you have done in various jobs, but talk about what you learned in school as well. Another important soft skill is working well with a team, so find examples of different roles you have held in teams and explain what you learned from them.
Remember to be specific about your role; according to Anna Reed on our Digital RVA Career Panel, “They are hiring you, not a team from the classroom.” Talk about how your actions created an impact on the team and the project’s results—provide KPIs for yourself!
Showcase your extracurricular activities, in addition to classroom experiences. Companies like to see people who are dedicated and active outside of the classroom. And if an organization you are a part of is related to marketing, make sure to mention that! Speak about executive board positions and how you grew various skills. Find ways to quantify your achievements as well. For example, I worked on the American Marketing Association’s social media, and in interviews, I explained how club membership doubled from the previous year due to the executive board’s efforts.
Companies do not expect you to know everything, but show them you have a passion for learning new things by providing details of your past experiences.
Results, Results, Results
Did you “run a social media account,” or did you manage an Instagram account with over 3,000 followers and a 15% engagement rate? Employers like to hear the results of what you accomplished, rather than just hearing a job description.
When explaining your past experiences, have clear-cut examples of what you have done - and be proud of them! If you have trouble using the classic “humble brag,” keep a Brag File on your phone and reference it for interviews. Take notes on past successes, and remember praise from past employers and colleagues.
A popular interview question style is behavioral questions. Interviewers will ask questions about your past experiences to see how you handled various situations. Most of these questions will begin with “Give an example of…,” “Tell me about a time…,” or “Describe a decision when….”
Behavioral interview questions are not going away any time soon, so a good method to follow for answering interview questions is the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Essentially, provide the interviewer with a story of how you handled a situation and the results of your actions. Employers will usually have follow-up questions as well, so be prepared to offer details about the story.
It’s okay to include experiences that do not relate to marketing. Interviewers are looking at how you perceive situations and how you make decisions, so find good examples, even if they are not marketing related.
The majority of interviewers will allow plenty of time for you to ask questions. This can be considered the most important part of the interview itself. Show your experience and passion through the questions you ask.
Ask about the company’s process, what they focus on, and the culture. If training is important to you, ask what the training process looks like. If you want to join a company that has a lot of internal growth, ask about the timeline for that, as well as their five-year plan.
The most important takeaway from this section: ask TONS of questions. It is totally okay (and is encouraged) to have a notebook with the questions you have and to take notes on the interviewers’ answers. Write down new questions as they come up to ask in the next stage.
Take the time to figure out how to relate your past experiences to the job you are applying for, find a job and company you are passionate about, and be confident about your accomplishments and your knowledge. You’ve got this!
Workshop Digital is a digital marketing agency based in Richmond, Virginia.