So, what will employers look for when it comes to hiring their next digital marketing star in 2018?
We’ve looked into our crystal ball to see how you can make your application stand out from the crowd.
Get your nerd on with data
For many years now, marketers have gotten away with pretty portfolios and creativity. However, there has been a seismic shift towards data-driven marketing, and this trend will only continue in 2018.
Regardless of your expertise or position, it will be vital for you to not only be able to report on your work but also be able to interpret data to make more informed decisions.
Expect to also see a growth in data and analytics focused roles supporting digital activities as companies expand their analytics teams to help leverage their marketing efforts. If you’re a stats geek, this really could be your year!
Make sure you have demonstrable experience in data analysis, or, qualifications and certificates focusing exclusively on analytics. Even if your major focus is elsewhere, analytics is the most applicable and usable second skill set to have.
Find your niche
It might seem like a lot of digital marketing roles expect you to be a jack of all trades, but expect to see more and more jobs seeking digital marketing discipline specialists.
We’ve seen this for quite a while now with the split between digital marketing and social media, and you can expect to see more content marketing, SEO, online advertising, and analytics focused positions moving forward.
However, experience across a range of disciplines isn’t a bad thing, especially if you can pair it with expertise in an industry.
Being the go-to expert for *insert industry here* digital marketing can make you hugely valuable to employers in that niche, and position you uniquely in the marketplace.
Make sure you have base level knowledge of all digital marketing disciplines before finding your specialty. You’ll find most skills are transferable, and it makes it easier for you to pivot into new areas if needed.
Have a side hustle
Side hustles exploded in 2017, and have become a huge tick to have on your resume.
Side hustles show an employer that you are driven, are willing to put in extra work, and that you are passionate about your chosen field.
Your extra-curricular activities are also great to show in your portfolio, and also demonstrate your time management, project management – and depending on your work – your client or customer relationship management.
It’s best to make sure your side hustle is related to your chosen work field if possible. For example, if you’re an SEO expert, having a small SEO agency is a much better side hustle and selling craft at a market stall.
Use outsourcing to your advantage
If you’re looking to start or expand your side hustle, 2018 will be the perfect year for you.
Expect more and more business to outsource their digital marketing activities to freelancers and agencies. With so many moving parts comprising a digital strategy, it can be far easier to outsource jobs like SEO and content writing than building capacity internally.
While this work can be sporadic and pay less than a full-time position, it can be the perfect to make extra money on the side. Combining many clients can also make up a full-time wage for you as a freelancer or your own agency.
While outsourcing will affect the job market, establishing yourself now as a freelancer or agency in your niche position you perfectly in the future as outsourcing continues to expand. While your colleagues scramble to find new jobs, you’ll be years ahead of the game with an established client base.
Start building your personal brand
Whether you’re applying for jobs or building your own client base, having a strong personal brand can give you a massive advantage over your competition.
Your personal brand is how you are perceived by others, especially around your expertise and knowledge. Think about the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin who have become go-to experts for everything marketing related through the careful curation of their personal brands.
By developing your own personal brand, you can not only tell the world how amazing you are but demonstrate your skills and expertise to an interested and engaged audience. While you don’t have to become uber famous, having a strong online presence as a thought leader in your niche can even have people reaching out and making job offers to you.
And don’t be afraid to send people to your content! Whether you choose to write or make videos, there’s nothing wrong with including links on your applications or resume.
Get blogging. Nothing says you’re an expert like driving the conversation. You don’t even have to start your own blog, sites like LinkedIn or Medium are perfect for reaching a captive audience already interested in what you have to say.
Some resources to help you start building the ultimate CV
- – Create your own personal brand
- – Start a side hustle while you study
- – A guide to digital marketing certifications
- – Find your digital marketing niche
Get started with your digital marketing career
Get experience across all digital marketing ddisciplinesand get certified at the same time. The Digital Marketing Certified Associate course gets you certified as an Online Marketing Certified Associate, as well as with Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Digital marketing is huge!
It covers everything from big data and analytics right through to posting pretty pictures on Instagram. And even if you’re a rock star – and we know you are – the chances of you being a world-class stats geek and social media maven are pretty slim.
This is why it’s important to find your own niche. Not only does this allow you to better leverage your talents, you can really zone in your expertise and become more valuable to prospective clients and employers.
Types of niches
It best to think about choosing your niche in one of two ways:
- Choosing a specific digital marketing discipline and becoming an expert, or
- Finding an industry to focus on while providing a number of digital marketing services.
There is no right or wrong path to follow, and whether you become a jack of all trades or a master of one, you have the opportunity to quickly position yourself as a leading expert in your field.
But to help you on your way, here are the pros and cons of each approach.
Becoming a digital marketing discipline expert
You’d be shocked at how many disciplines make up digital marketing, and how it is now close to impossible to be an expert at everything.
It’s also worth keeping in the back of your mind that digital marketing is a moving landscape. Five years ago, no one had heard of marketing automation, while mobile marketing is also relatively new. So, the niche you choose now may not be the niche you are in forever.
You should choose your digital marketing discipline based on your skills and what you enjoy. Are you a big thinker? Look at the strategy side of digital marketing. Love playing with numbers and stats? Look at analytics. Enjoy telling stories and being creative? Content marketing could be for you.
In general, this approach is best for those who would like to work for a company rather than individuals starting their own agency. There are a lot of SEO agencies, for example, however, if you can service a gap in the market you could become highly sort after.
On the plus side, it is very easy to learn about your discipline, become a thought leader, and work across a large number of different companies and projects. But this means you will really need to stay on top of your discipline and make sure you’re the go-to expert in your field.
Pros Cons – Perfect if you would like to work for companies
– Easy to become a thought leader
– Educational programs are easily available
– Blogs, podcasts, and video content easy to find
– May be difficult to break through as a new agency
– Need to keep up with latest trends
– Some disciplines are more sought-after
– Employers may want experience in other disciplines
Becoming an industry expert
Using your knowledge and experience to service an industry you know well can really differentiate you in the market, and help you cut through to prospective clients and employers.
Not only will you have inside knowledge of the industry, clients will trust you more, and you’ll easily be able to build a strong network within the industry.
There are a number of ways you can find an industry to service:
- – Something you enjoy – like music or sport
- – An industry you are knowledgeable about – like real estate
- – An industry you have worked in or are experienced with – especially if you have demonstrable success as a marketer
- – An industry you see an opportunity in – that is growing or is not currently serviced by other marketers.
But it’s important to remember you don’t have to have worked in the industry, through building your brand you can position yourself as an industry expert.
Unlike choosing a digital marketing discipline, becoming an industry expert lends itself more to those wishing to freelance or start their own agency. This approach is also much easier to show value to prospective clients and employers, as they will understand your previous projects and imagine how you can apply it to their business.
Pros Cons – Perfect if you would like to start an agency or freelance
– Networks of prospective clients already exist
– Easy to demonstrate value to clients and employers
– Easy to develop portfolios of previous work
– May be difficult to find employment opportunities with companies
– Must be across a number of different digital marketing disciplines
– Industry-specific education hard to find
Tips for choosing your niche
Choose something you enjoy – yes, you can turn your passion for taking photos and making videos into a career!
Try before you buy – don’t just choose a discipline without having any experience in it. It’s best to start your digital marketing career as generic as possible with exposure to lots of different aspects, and then choose your niche once you’ve found a favourite.
Don’t be afraid to change – the great thing about digital marketing is there are loads of transferable skills. If you think you’ve made a mistake, never be afraid to branch out or change niches.
Start building your brand – once you’ve chosen a niche, start building your personal brand. There’s no point being an expert if no one knows about it.
Supercharge by combining niche types – this one won’t work for everyone, but if your industry is big enough and there is demand, you can become a discipline expert within an industry. Think of something like an education content marketing expert or banking PPC agency.
Get started with your digital marketing career
Get experience across all digital marketing disciplines and get certified at the same time. The Digital Marketing Certified Associate course gets you certified as an Online Marketing Certified Associate, as well as with Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
No, we’re not talking about your logo…. Think of this less about colour pallets and image filters and more about how you are perceived by others.
By developing your own personal brand, you can not only tell the world how amazing you are but demonstrate your skills and expertise to an audience of millions. So, how can you go about positioning yourself as a must-hire candidate?
Choosing your niche
If you haven’t done so already, it’s important to choose a niche where you’ll become a thought leader.
This niche can be a specific discipline like content marketing, social media, or SEO, or an industry like education, law, or e-commerce. In many cases, being the go-to expert in a field is much better than trying to be a jack of all trades.
Once you’ve identified your niche, you need to know where professionals exist. What blogs do they read? What conferences do they attend? Do they listen to podcasts? Who are the thought leaders? Do they prefer one social media platform over another?
The answers to these questions will greatly help where, when, and how you distribute content and interact with prospective customers.
Remember, social media is for more than dog gifs and baby photos. Used correctly, it can be a great tool for branding and networking.
- Find the social media channels where conversations are happening This may differ from niche to niche. Generally, business and marketing professionals have discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter. But, on the other hand, fashion and fitness professionals are more likely to use Instagram or Facebook.
- Create a professional profile on these channels Remember, this is the social media channel that the professional world will see. Use your personality, but keep it professional.
- Follow thought leaders within your niche, as well as surrounding niches Not only might they follow you back, but they will infinitely help your learning with their insights into the industry.
- Find relevant hashtags and groups to join Don’t just follow individuals, also keep across topics and join relevant groups. This will be important for when you start posting yourself!
Get the bookmark button ready, because it’s not just social media where the conversation will be happening. Make sure to research:
- Niche-specific news sites and publications
- Blogs and websites focused on your niche
- YouTube channels dedicated to your niche
- Podcasts discussing your niche
If you’re completely lost as to where to start, Alltop is blog aggregator which allows you to search by keywords. Here you’ll get links to popular sites in your niche which post regularly.
You know where the conversations are happening; now it’s time to join in! Here are some simple ways you can start positioning yourself as a thought leader.
- Start commenting Yes, we know, the comments section is the worst. But in these circumstances, they can be a good thing! Niche content comments are far more civil than main-stream sites and are a great place to share your opinion or ask questions. But remember! That these are professionals in your field, so make sure you’re informed before throwing in your two cents.
- Answer questions This can be anything from a quick response on Twitter or a lengthy answer on Quora. Everyone loves being helped by someone in the know, and often a link off to a detailed article you’ve read is a perfect response.
- Ask questions Want to know more about something and can’t find the answer? Ask the world! But make sure they are genuine questions, and be sure to research the answer first. There’s nothing more embarrassing than asking a question that can be answered with a simple Google.
- Give an opinion Got a view of something newsworthy? Tell the world! Groups and discussion forums are great for this, as is Twitter. But just like your commenting, remember that your opinion needs to be well researched and informed.
This is where you’ll really start to position yourself as a thought leader. Creating content is simply the best way to demonstrate your expertise and grow your personal brand.
Types of content you can create
- Blog posts on your own website
- Blog posts on LinkedIn
- Guest posts on niche blogs
- YouTube videos
- Slide decks
Content creation quick tips
- Be sure to share
As much as we wish it wasn’t the case, posting something on the internet doesn’t mean it will be found by the world. Make sure you share your content across all channels including social media and your contact list. If it’s relevant, you can also use your content as an answer to questions you find.
- Play to your strengths
Don’t try and be everything to everyone. Like choosing your niche to specialise in, there’s nothing wrong with only creating content on media you’re comfortable with. If you’re a good writer, create blog posts. You love video? Jump on YouTube. The key here is quality delivery as well as presenting great information.
- Research, research, research
I think we’ve mentioned this before….. There’s nothing worse for your reputation than an uninformed opinion or presenting something that is factually incorrect. Make sure you conduct extensive research before you start creating content so what you are presenting is cutting edge and best practice.
- Bring something new to the table
Research will also help you find something new to talk about. Don’t just create content for the sake of it, or regurgitate a topic that has been covered already. Show a new or fresh idea, or bring a new perspective to the topic.
- Bigger is often better
There is no such thing as a perfect length for thought-leadership content. People are busy and will often only read smaller articles and watch short videos, but if you’re bringing quality go as long as you need. Many niche blogs have articles 10,000 words or longer, while it’s not uncommon to see videos 30 minutes or longer.
- People love case studies
It’s one thing to talk about theory, it’s another to show it in practice. If you can, talk about previous work you’ve completed, or even better, do experiments and report on the results. People love to read step-by-step, warts and all case studies. And don’t be afraid to talk about when things go wrong, there are just as many lessons in failure!
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a rookie digital marketer looking to establish your career, a freelancer wanting to prove your abilities to new clients, or a veteran hoping to upskill in a new discipline, it’s important to get officially certified.
Becoming certified means you have met the requirements of a particular platform or industry body, and have proven your ability and knowledge in a specific area. So get ready to update your LinkedIn and CV, here is our guide to the must-have certificates for all digital marketing professionals.
Like all industries, digital marketing has a number of professional bodies who accredit members based on their competence and experience.
Online Marketing Certified Professional
The Online Marketing Certified Professional (OMCP) certifications verify up-to-date knowledge, education, and experience as determined by experts and research into digital marketing roles. OMCP awards two levels of certification; OMCP Certification for expert digital marketers, and the Online Marketing Certified Associate for those new to the industry.
Both certifications involve exams and proof of experience, with ongoing professional development required to maintain your certification.
The Digital Marketing Institute
The Digital Marketing Institute accredits students through a number of courses at the sub-bachelor and post-graduate levels. Their industry approved courses certify graduates within their profession, however, do not require ongoing accreditation.
The Internet Marketing Association
The Internet Marketing Association offers a Certified Internet Marketer (CIM) certification program online for students. Students who complete the required coursework and pass their final exam become certified and a member of the IMA. The body also has free and premium membership options, but these do not include any type of certification.
Ready to show you’re an expert in a particular marketing or advertising platform? Get certified directly with some of the world’s biggest brands.
Google AdWords Certified Professional
Through the Google Partner’s Program, Google offers digital marketers the chance to become certified in all disciplines associated with their AdWords platform. Google AdWords certification shows that an individual has demonstrated proficiency in both basic and advanced aspects of AdWords and that Google recognises them as an expert in online advertising.
To become an AdWords Certified Professional, you must pass two exams; the AdWords Fundamentals exam and one of the following: Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising, or Shopping Advertising. You can also become certified in all or more than one AdWord discipline.
There is no registration cost for Google AdWords Certification Exams, and accreditation lasts for 12 months from the date of passing your exams.
Facebook Certified Professional
Facebook’s advertising learning portal, Facebook Blueprint, offers certification in both the buying and planning of Facebook Ads. Blueprint Certifications are designed for individuals with advanced-level competency in the Facebook Ads platform with badges awarded on completion of exams.
Blueprint also offers free eLearning courses to help prepare you for exams, as well as practice exams to try before you try the real thing. Facebook Certified Professional exams are free to take and requires ongoing testing to remain certified.
Google Analytics Individual Qualification
Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ), demonstrates that an individual has an advanced proficiency in the Google Analytics platform. Like the Google AdWords Certifications, the IQ exam is available on the Google Partner portal and consists of multiple-choice questions that must be answered within 90 minutes.
The IQ exam is free to take, with certification valid for 18 months. Google’s Analytics Academy also offers free online courses to help prepare you for the IQ exam.
Twitter Advertising Certification
Developed in partnership with Simplilearn and Twitter, the Twitter Advertising Certification is available through both Murphy College and Simplilearn. The certification course takes students through Twitter Ads best practice and does not require a final exam or ongoing accreditation.
Tips for getting certified
With so many courses and certificates available, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. To help cut through all the noise and get the certificates you need, simply follow these steps.
Find your niche
Sometimes it’s better to be a master of one specialty than a jack of all trades or badge collector. By focusing and becoming an expert in one discipline or platform you can really differentiate yourself as a specialist and thought leader.
Don’t just try to pass exams
Yes, it’s important to pass exams, but it’s also just as important to learn the theory behind the exams. Use your learning to become an expert, not just rote learn concepts and keywords. And as tempting as it can be, don’t cheat your exams by Googling answers, if you don’t know the answer in the exam, chances are you won’t know it when it comes up in your professional life.
Take a course
Every certification has associated courses through the certifying body or private providers. To really take a deep dive into the topic, take all the courses you can and really become an expert. Not only will it help you breeze through the exams, you’ll also find nuggets of knowledge you’ll be able to apply in your work.
Just because you pass your exam doesn’t mean the learning is over. Many certifications require reaccreditation or demonstration of professional development, so keep an eye out for courses that might interest you, read digital marketing blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch YouTube channels. Once you’re on the cutting edge of the industry, you don’t want to let your knowledge slip.
See how you can get certified