The online marketing industry has been one of the hottest, fastest growing industries in the past 5 years. As companies, large and small, look to improve their online presence and expand their service offerings to their own customers, qualified online marketing specialists continue to become more valuable and in-demand.
Being in the industry myself for the past 10 years I have accumulated a good amount of experience in finding, landing and hiring online marketing positions. These things are not what have inspired me to right this post though.
Instead, I frequently get asked how and where to find / land an online marketing job. So, I thought I would use this opportunity to provide an answer to more than one person at a time by summarizing and outlining most of what I have come to know.
Disclaimer: All I am offering is advice, based off of my experience, so it should only be taken as such. Do not rely solely on my suggestions. Talk to multiple people and get as much advice as you can. All of it will benefit you in the long run.
Finding the Job
Knowing what type of company you want to work for can often be more important than exactly which position you want to take on. If a company is a good fit for you, and vice versa, then you will be in a better state of mind to grow within the industry.
Here is a roadmap for how and where to find your dream online marketing job, at the right company for you:
STEP 1: Pin Down a Location
I’ve seen long commutes really hinder someone from enjoying their job, staying focused and maintaining motivation. Unless you have some secret route to every point in your area where traffic is not an issue, then I would highly recommend trying to keep your search within a 10-15 mile radius of where you currently reside.
Obviously this all assumes that you are not willing to uproot yourself and find a job in another state or something. Also, I’m not going to mention telecommuting jobs as an option as I strongly believe that consistent personal interaction with other co-workers is a necessary element of a great online marketing job.
Tip #1: Try some of these Google search queries at www.google.com
- top companies to work for in
- digital media companies in
- online marketing agencies in
- best places to work in
- internet marketing companies in
Tip #2: Try some of these Google search queries at www.google.com/maps
- digital media companies
- online marketing agencies
- internet marketing companies
You don’t need to limit your search to online marketing companies only as there are good jobs at other types of companies. However, if you’re really looking to gain experience, then I highly recommend you focus on finding a job at an existing online marketing / digital media company. In these cases, there will be at least one other person who can mentor and direct you down the right paths.
STEP 2: Get Social
Networking has always been one of the best ways to find a new job. Social media has made networking exponentially easier, and cheaper, and has become one of my top recommendations for finding that dream job. Once you have established your short list of desired companies to work for, whether they are hiring or not, then social media is your next move.
Here is a roadmap for how and where to use social media to find that perfect internet marketing opportunity:
Tip #3: Follow and interact with each company’s blog as well as their social media accounts on these main networks
- Ask for the best to speak with about hiring
- Don’t be afraid to engage the CEO
- Find something about the company that could benefit from your experience, creativity or personality, but send it privately as you don’t want to open the door for other people to piggy back off of your idea and beat you to the punch
- Ask for the opportunity to interview (many people forget this simple request)
Avoid common social media mistakes. Spend a little time “listening” to each company online before you go sending them a tweet or decide to comment on one of their blog posts. By doing this you will get a very good idea of what that company’s culture is like.
- Marketing Pilgrim
- SEOMoz Market Place
- Simply Hired
- Search Engine Journal
- Craigslist (yes this is still a decent resource)
Landing the Job
So you’ve done your research, you’ve narrowed down the companies you want to work for in your area and you’ve done your due diligence to know as much as possible about each company. Now it’s time to lock down those interviews and make the best possible impressions when meeting with each company.
STEP 3: Prepare Yourself
The worst thing you can do when asking for, or walking into, an interview is to not be prepared. Even if you think you are good at “winging it” all it takes is one small question to completely derail your chances of making a stellar first impression.
Here are some guidelines to help you secure and nail those interviews by being prepared:
TIP #6: Brush up on the industry lingo by knowing the fundamental definitions of these basic terms and their respective acronyms
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Paid Search Advertising or Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
- Social Media Marketing (SMM)
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
- Online Reputation Management (ORM)
- Email Marketing
I’d like to think that my resources are comprehensive enough to keep you from needing to look elsewhere, but realistically there are tons more, great articles available by doing a simple Google search. I encourage you to read as many articles on these terms as possible.
TIP #7: Become a “Digital Citizen” by having prepared responses to these questions
- Do you have a blog? If so, how much traffic does it get?
- What are your top 3-5 favorite blogs to read?
- Do you rank first for your name in Google?
- What social bookmarking sites do you use?
- How many followers, fans, likes, subscribers do you have?
- What social network do you use / like most and why?
- What is the most viral content you have ever created?
- Do you use an RSS reader? If so, which is your favorite?
- What social media tool(s) do you use to manage your account(s)?
A good hiring manager / interviewer will research and know the answer to most, if not all, of these questions before they even meet you. These are fantastic qualifiers of whether someone is able and willing to learn and consume a lot of information very quickly and use it across multiple responsibilities.
TIP #8: Update your resume and cover letter to increase your chances of someone reading it and remembering it
- Keep important, relevant experience at the top
- Use buzzwords (mentioned in Tip #6 above) correctly to help the hiring manager quickly see that you’re at least familiar with the terminology
- Provide specific examples / URLs (if possible) of projects that you have worked on that had some component of online marketing
- Include a link to your online resume in your cover letter (see Tip #9 below on how / where to create one)
TIP #9: Create an online resume and keep it updated with one of these handy services
- WordPress (if you’re familiar with working on WordPress templates and have design / development experience)
The more creative, fun and original your online resume is, the more likely it is to be remembered. Check out this great example of a guy who applied for a job at Google by using some creativity on the web.
STEP 4: Nail the Interview
If you have gone through and completed the 9 tips outlined above, then you should be more than prepared to confidently sit down in front of any hiring manager to land your dream online marketing job. Getting to the interview is only one part though, now you need to impress the heck out of whomever you get to meet with.
Here are some solid tips on how to nail your interview:
TIP #10: Don’t underdress, even if you are told it is a casual environment.
Your seriousness about the position is often portrayed through your appearance. Showing up overdressed seems to always provide for some good laughs, and thus helps to lighten the mood a little as well. Besides this, showing up to your first interview decked out to the nines has seemed to become a rite of passage for most new hires in this industry.
TIP #11: Answer questions confidently and honestly.
The second you try to ‘bs’ your way through an answer you will lose all credibility. If you don’t know the answer to something, simply respond with “I am not familiar with that, but I would love to learn and am confident I can pick it up quickly and be able to apply it where necessary”
TIP #12: Prove your worth with action
Circling back to Tip #4 above, do some research to find something about the company where you have come up with some ideas / solutions that they can benefit from. If you don’t have the experience yet to identify anything, then ask for a take-home task where you can prove your willingness and worth – kind of like a homework assignment to prove yourself.
TIP #13: Follow up, but don’t be annoying
Before you leave the interview, make sure you are clear on when to expect to hear back and if it is on you to follow up (normally it is not). Do not call or email the hiring manager every other day, especially if they were clear about when they would follow up with you. I would recommend sending a “Thank you” letter (via snail mail). Someone did this for me once and it was a great personal touch.
[BONUS] Starting the Job
I feel confident that if you have followed each of the 13 Tips posted above, then your chances of finding and getting hired for your online marketing dream job should be very high. All of the time you have spent researching, engaging, preparing and positioning yourself to get that job will come to be extremely handy for your future career in Internet Marketing.
Through these 13 tips you should have also learned how to:
- Improve your Google search skills
- Optimize your social media profiles
- Up your game in social media interaction and engagement
- Increase your social media reach
- Create a foundation for your online marketing knowledge-base
- Leverage web, desktop and mobile apps to keep you on the cutting edge
- Manage your online reputation
- Recognize talent and value in other co-workers, friends or social contacts
- Expand your network
All of these skills will continue to make you extremely valuable to your new company and pave the way for a long, successful career in Online Marketing.
Continue to build your worth in the industry with some of these final takeaways and tips:
- Follow / read lots of blog articles every week
- Follow notable people in the industry and just observe how they post content and interact with their followers
- Build your own website and use it as a test bed to try different online marketing tactics
- Get offline and meet and talk to people in the industry (ask lots of questions)
Good luck on your dream job search and in your new job, when you land it.
If you have any specific questions or comments that you’d like to add, then please leave me a comment below.