A Guide to Landing a Graduate Job in Digital Marketing

Finishing your final year at University can bring a mixture of emotions; joy from finishing your dissertation or the daunting realisation that you now need to find a graduate job!

Unfortunately, there’s no getting away from the fact that landing a job as a graduate can be tough in a crowded and competitive job market. With thousands of other students competing for the same graduate digital marketing roles, you must do everything you can to stand out.

Luckily for you, for over 20 years we’ve been employing graduates at our digital marketing agency and can offer you tips on landing that first digital marketing job – whether you’re a natural writer, have a passion for analytics or love designing websites.

1. Start Early to Land That Perfect Graduate Job

Digital Marketing is a popular career choice for many graduates. The competitive industry offers plenty of diverse jobs to suit graduates with various skills, whether creative, analytical or both. So, what can you do to put yourself at the top of the pile of CVs currently sitting in a Digital Marketing Manager’s inbox?

Firstly, you should start early! While it’s all too tempting to hand in your dissertation and go into hibernation, we strongly advise against this. You’ll be surprised to know that many students started their graduate job hunt months ago.

However, it’s never too late, start being proactive and start sending your CV out as soon as possible. While you can look through and upload your CV to the many online job sites, like Indeed or available, we also suggest sending your CV directly to companies you would like to work for – you never know what they might see in your application.

“My tip would be to make sure that your CV is up to date and as polished as it possibly can be. Also, no matter what degree you have, sell yourself and not the title of your degree. Try to concentrate on the skills that you have developed whilst studying, whether it be communication, presentation, or team building.”

– Amy Livesey (Account Manager)

Amy Livesey - Graduate

2. Tailor Your Application

No company likes to receive a vague or generic application. The key is to tailor your application for every graduate job that you apply for – this includes your CV and cover letter (make sure you include a cover letter to stand out from other job seekers). Your job application is an opportunity to show what you could bring to their company, so take the extra time to tell them why you are the perfect person for this specific position.

Spend time researching the company and use this to your advantage to show why you would be a fantastic addition to their business. A well-thought-out and tailored cover letter will impress a lot more than a generic one.

“When you start looking at job sites and boards and find a few roles you’d like to apply for, you may be tempted to send off the same CV to all of them. While this will save you time, it’s not the best way to go about it, and you may not even get replies. To ensure you get an email or call back, make sure to tailor your CV to the roles you’re applying for and demonstrate to the company that you’re passionate about the job and boosts your chances of getting an interview.”

– Teresa Garanhel (Senior Content Marketing Executive)

With so many different avenues into Digital Marketing, we suggest choosing the area that interests you the most and focus your efforts on demonstrating your passion and knowledge for this. Showing enthusiasm for a particular career path will show that you’re committed.

“When I first started applying for jobs, it was very tempting to just fire off lots of CVs at the same time. However, I soon realised that this wasn’t the best way to do it, which was evident by the lack of replies and invitations to interviews. I then decided to properly tailor my CV to the jobs I was applying for – you have to show the company that you are passionate about the role and that it’s what you are looking for. You’re much more likely to get results this way”

– Emma Mortimer (Graduate Scheme 2016)

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Apply

When applying for a job, don’t be afraid to apply for positions where you don’t quite meet all the essential requirements. For example, a content writing position might require one year of industry experience. As a graduate, it’s unlikely that you’ll have this but, if you do have a passion for writing and experience of writing your blog – why not send in your (tailored) CV? If you’ve never built a website for a company but spent years teaching yourself? It’s always worth sending in your application.

There’s always the chance that employers will spot something outstanding in your application, even if you don’t meet their specific requirements.

The most important thing to remember is never to fabricate experience – you’ll quickly get found out. Be confident that you have the drive, passion and dedication to land the position, even if your knowledge and skills need a little more work.

“When I applied for a role at SQ Digital, I had no digital marketing experience. I had finished my English degree a year before and had been working in retail since then. However, when I came across a Content Writer position on the SQ Digital website, I knew the skills gained from my degree would make me perfect for the role. Despite not having all of the requirements that the role asked for, I tailored my CV and sent it in any way – and I got the job! Don’t be afraid to go for it, even if you are a little worried that you’re not the right fit; you might be exactly what a company has been looking for!”

– Katie Martin (Lead Digital Marketing Executive)

4. Look for Internships and Work Experience

Gaining relevant work experience in the industry you want to work for is invaluable. Whether it’s a paid internship, job shadowing, or a few weeks of unpaid work experience, hands-on experience you can get within your chosen industry is guaranteed to make you more employable.

“A take-charge attitude can get you far. If you’re on the lookout for work experience, why not contact the companies that interest you? They’ll be happy to hear from you. You can also ask for career advice at your University, find work experience programmes or contact an employer about a potential placement. 

“Once you get one placement, it’s easier to get others, so keep trying and don’t give up!”

– Elizabeth Goldsbrough (Senior SEO Executive)

Lizzy Goldsborough - Graduate

It’s also a fantastic way to get your foot in the door. If you approach a company that you are interested in working for and ask for work experience, you could end up with a full-time job at the end of it (or a significant connection at the very least).

Want to hear a secret? Digital Marketing agencies or departments are always busy! There’s a strong possibility that you will find a company that will appreciate some extra help. This is your opportunity to show your worth and convince them that you would be the perfect fit to become a permanent member of the team.

“When finding work experience, be proactive; send emails to places you’d like to work, use people you know for tips and putting in a good word, and see if your uni has any work experience schemes or scholarships that you can utilise. Don’t underestimate the power of relevant societies and clubs at your university either! As soon as you get one placement, whether it’s for a week or a couple of months, it makes it a lot easier to find others. Also, check with your university to see if they have any bursaries available to cover the costs of your travel while you have a placement!”

– Michelle Gleaves (Graduate Scheme 2015)

5. Realise the Importance of Networking

Have you heard of the saying, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know?” You can’t get away from the fact that thousands of jobs are filled each year by word of mouth and recommendations.

Many people feel like they have no one to ask, but they’d be surprised by who’s in their secondary circles. Use your connections to your advantage. Know a friend working in the Digital Marketing industry? Ask them to refer you. Still in touch with a company that you did work experience in your second year? Get back in touch and ask if they have a position available.

If you’re not lucky enough to know someone who can help, there are still lots of things you can do. Getting to know the key players within the industry you’d like to work in is vital when searching for a Digital Marketing job. From following these individuals on LinkedIn to attending conferences and seminars, this is a huge part of landing a job following graduation.

Attending industry events is also a great way to get more knowledge about the latest trends and news, providing you with plenty of great ideas to bring along to interviews.

“I would say that portraying confidence is key – even if on the inside you don’t feel confident at all. When meeting anyone new, both professionally or personally, be the first to introduce yourself and get the conversation going. Be willing to put yourself out there, you never know where a conversation could take you. If you don’t feel confident, the more you introduce yourself and get chatting to people, the more comfortable you will become over time.” 

– Matt Hartley (Graduate Scheme 2016)

6. Build Your Online Profile

With social media accounts so easily accessible, it’s becoming more and more common for employers to search for potential employees online before inviting them to interview. This means ensuring that your online social media accounts are presentable – you don’t want your tweets from your early student days stopping you from landing your dream job.

Utilise social media networks such as LinkedIn to highlight your expertise and knowledge. If you’re applying for a job in social media, it’s a given that you want your own profiles to represent your personality.

“I would say for LinkedIn that just making a profile isn’t enough and you won’t get anything out of that – making sure you have relevant connections and activity can prove that you’re actually as interested in that industry as you say you are. This also shows that you’re proactive in keeping up to date with what’s going on in the industry and what others think of these changes so that you understand the importance of opinions because there’s no right or wrong or time limit in digital marketing.”

– Eddie Bradshaw (Lead Project Manager)

7. Create a Job Hunting Routine

Searching for a graduate job can be a daunting task, especially if you’re busy with university work or preparing for interviews. You may also feel the need to spend all your free time on it to give yourself the best chances of success.

But it’s essential to take breaks too. Researching and applying for jobs is necessary, but so is getting away from the computer for a bit, exercising, meeting friends or spending time with family. Everyone’s different, so what might work for someone may not work for you, meaning you need to find ‘your’ routine.

You may prefer to get up early in the morning to send out a few CVs, or maybe you work better right after lunch. Or perhaps you like to reward yourself with a treat or a tea break once you complete an application, for example. It’s entirely up to you, as long as it works!

“It can be tough to stay motivated, especially when you’re applying for many different positions. However, if you take breaks into account and set yourself targets, you can easily structure your day in a way that works for you. So, to avoid becoming overwhelmed with job hunting, break your days down into smaller steps that will help you stay on track.” 

– Nathalie Hill (Lead Digital Marketing Executive)

8. Get the Most Out of Your Graduate Job

Once you’ve landed a job, you must make the most of the opportunity. Make a good first impression, get to know your co-workers, be proactive in learning, and more – in essence, ensure that your time at the company is well spent.

Stay organised, listen to the guidance and be enthusiastic about tasks assigned to you, even if they’re small, and use initiative as well. Companies appreciate graduates who are resourceful and look for answers instead of waiting to be told what to do all the time.

And remember, if you’re unsure about something, ask for help. Employers will expect you to ask lots of questions initially, so don’t be embarrassed to speak up.

“Take full advantage of your graduate job opportunities and gain as much experience as you can. Get involved with social activities too, and meet other colleagues you might not necessarily work with on a day to day basis.  Ask questions, speak up, make suggestions, and ask for feedback too. All this will help make your role more enjoyable.”

– Husen Essa (Director)

Husen Essa

9. Working for SQ Digital

While these tips make for a good start on your graduate job hunting journey, there are lots of different things you can be doing to stand out. Think outside the box when it comes to sending in your application, as sometimes a CV and cover letter isn’t enough on their own. As someone who wants to work in Digital Marketing, show that creative spark to get yourself noticed.

We’re always happy to take on passionate and creative people looking to grow their digital marketing skills – and help us deliver the best marketing campaigns for our clients.

With a career at SQ Digital, you’re choosing a forward-thinking, award-winning digital marketing agency with over two decades of experience. We believe in innovation, hard work and having fun. Joining SQ digital means you’ll be joining a team of people who care for and support each other.

Please take a look at our open positions and apply for a role we’ve got going on. Even if nothing jumps out at you right now, send us your CV – you never know what we might have lined up!

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