Agency life. We’ve all seen the photos posted on social media – the cool offices, the unique culture, the Silicon Valley-like perks, the cool clients. What the photos don’t show are the long days, the fast pace, the constant learning, the ability to wear many different hats for different clients and the defeat of having your ideas and work picked apart by clients.
Takes a special breed to not only work at an agency, but to thrive and succeed. While some prefer the ability to hyper-focus on one brand and one specific task like many client-side jobs provide, we love the rush that agency life brings. But hey, we are that the special breed.
Are you serious about getting into an agency? At Vital, we are looking for go-getters that set themselves apart and show (not just say) that they have a passion for digital marketing. Here are just a few of the things that we are looking for and the questions you need to ask yourself in order to best position yourself for a successful career within an agency.
Are You a Life-Long Learner/Self Educator?
Digital marketing changes at the speed of light. To be successful, you need to be a self-educator that builds self-education into your daily practice and ritual. We aren’t just looking to see what you’ve been formally taught, we are interested in what you do day-to-day to better yourself.
If you’re new to the industry, the first place to start is taking advantage of all of the free online resources and specifically the free certificate-based programs. We are listing a few here, but your career aspirations and interests should dictate what paths you pursue (SEO, PPC, SEM, copywriting, technology, project management etc.)
Google Analytics Certification – Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics service on the internet. They offer a variety of trainings and certifications.
HubSpot Inbound Certification – This is a core certification that every potential digital marketing professional should acquire. In addition, HubSpot offers other relevant certifications and trainings.
Copyblogger Membership (Free) – Copyblogger is one of the leaders on content marketing theories and principles. Great for not just copywriters, but digital marketers in general. They offer free trainings and curriculums.
Everyone learns differently and there are literally thousands of great resources available for all types of learners (listeners, readers, watchers, visualizers). We can’t tell you what will work for you, but here are 10 resources that we would start with. Following these 10 blogs will lead to a whole new world of exploration that works for you as you develop new habits and daily practices necessary to be successful now and in the future.
Are You an Active Participant in Your Future Profession?
The idea of “showing and not telling” is crucial in landing a career in today’s marketing world. It’s easy to say you are doing something, but is far more impactful if you are able to show it instead. A good example is having a blog. Simply saying “yeah I like to blog” is no longer enough. These days agencies want to see you have a blog and want to know that you’re continually making an effort to update it.
While web design and development can be very complicated, setting up your own blog does not have to be. Anyone can setup a personalized blog quickly and easily using WordPress.
Think of your blog as your own personalized sandbox to try new things, see what works and improve your overall knowledge of digital marketing. It will teach you the basics of content strategy, understanding analytics, conversion, list building and content distribution.
The number one question that everyone asks is what do I write about? The answer to this question will depend on where your passions and interests lie. Love craft beer? Start a blog about craft beer. Love yoga? Start a blog about yoga. The goal isn’t to build the world’s best blog about yoga; it’s to learn and build the daily practice needed to succeed at an agency. Still not sure what to write about, use it as a personalized journal of what you are learning and how it relates to your goal of finding your dream job within an agency.
Do You Have Relevant, Real-Life Experience?
For recent graduates, this might be an internship. For others looking to make a career change, an internship might not be feasible. However, we all know a small business owner that is overworked and looking for someone to help. Why not find a way to help someone out and hone your skills at the same time?
Obtaining relevant experience allows you to incorporate what you are learning from your self-education and marketing background to develop a strategy that helps them accomplish their business objectives. When you’re finished, why not develop a case study that you can present to potential agencies that show your knowledge and desire to make client services your career?
Experience is vital. If you don’t have any, don’t wait for it to fall in your lap. Make it happen yourself.
Do You Have a Strong Social Presence?
Are you on Twitter? If so, are you really using it? What exactly are using it for and does it align with the career you’re pursuing? The same goes for other social media accounts — particularly LinkedIn.
But while it’s true that you need a strong LinkedIn profile, it has to go deeper than that. Prospective agencies are going look at your social profiles, not just what you post, but who you follow, insights that you add when posting and reposting links. Use social media as a distribution platform to content that you create or find. The more robust you can make your social channels, the more you will stand out. What are you posting and reposting will be a reflection of how serious you are about breaking into digital marketing and the agency world and provide insights into how you think.
Do You Stand Out? If So, How?
If you do the first four things consistently, you will look good on paper, but the sad reality is that your resume might never get in front of the right person.
At Vital, we get on average of 20 resumes a day that all come in looking virtually the same. This is where you need to get creative to really stand out. We can’t give you the answers, but it’s marketing and if you really want to show potential employers that you are serious, it’s time to market yourself and capture the attention of your target market.
Have You Done Your Homework?
If you are able to get an interview, make sure you do your homework on the agency. Spend time on their site. Download their content, learn about their clients, their team, their process. Understand what they specialize in and how you can help them. Remember, agencies are fast-paced, efficient operations that are looking for go-getters. If you aren’t able to prove that you have done your homework, you will never get the chance to prove what you can do.