It’s Not Easy Being Green – Job Search Tips for New Grads
We’ve all been there. Certified, bright, enthusiastic and…GREEN. We know, it’s not easy but, being green also means you’re well on your way to becoming what you want to be.
DAC Group will be working the campus circuit over the next two weeks. We’ll be in New York at Columbia University September 19 and in Waterloo for Partners 4 Employment (P4E), September 24. We’re excited and looking forward to meeting the up and comers in the digital industry and quite possibly, DAC Group’s next hire. With eight offices throughout North America, a roster of tier one, fortune 500 clients and an environment that loves innovation we’re bound to have something that will pique your curiosity. We’re hoping you’ll bring something along that will pique ours. We want to help you out so, in addition to inviting you to stop by, say hi and drop off your resume we’ve pulled together the following tips to help you in your career search.
Let’s face it – online presence carries more weight these days. If you’re going to start a career in digital, you should be on at least one social media channel and using it to leverage your “personal brand” and advance your career. LinkedIn is quickly becoming the new “first impression”. Hiring managers will more often than not, check out a candidate’s profile while they are looking at their resume. The benefit of a really great LinkedIn profile is that it will show that you are professional and polished. It’s a snapshot of your experience that doesn’t need to be as detailed as a resume but will still provide a summary of your work experience and accomplishments (that being said, NEVER substitute your resume with your LinkedIn profile!). In terms of whether or not to put up a picture on your profile, it always helps to put a face to name, but to clarify – you should look professional in the picture you choose, so please, no bathroom selfies or patio pictures with your shades on!
An important use for LinkedIn is to expand your network of professional peers. Yes, you could invite your friends if you want but the main purpose is to connect with those that will extend your network and contribute to your career path. One thing to make sure of when you are sending requests to connect on LinkedIn is that you personalize your message. It doesn’t have to be long, but anything is better than the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Instead, try “Hi ___, I’m a new graduate that’s excited to build a career in Marketing. I’d love the opportunity to connect and perhaps I could pick your brain on how to break into the industry.”
We live in a world where learning is a common practice. There are tons of tools at everyone’s disposal and if you’re looking to start a career in Digital, why not upgrade your knowledge with some of the certification programs out there? These programs will teach you industry practices and how to react in real-life marketing case studies. Not to mention, digital can be a swirling vortex of niche terminology and abbreviations. Certifications will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge to build upon and then some. By completing a certification, you’ll be able to speak “digital-ese” on your resume, and more importantly, during your interviews. The beauty of online certifications is that you do them on your own time. Once you successfully complete one, that’s it! You will be certified and eligible to indicate so on your resume. This is something that digital hiring managers look for in candidates, even at the experienced level. For example, if they see that junior level candidates have already obtained their Google AdWords Certification – that’s like finding resume gold! Gold, Jerry! That being said, not all companies use the same platforms and tools, so don’t just go out there and take everything. Be selective as job postings will usually have a good indication of what platforms a company uses so start your research there. Some tools, like Google Analytics – are free to use and learn, so take advantage and see if you like it!
Finding a real job can be very competitive, no matter how educated or qualified you are. If you can, try and gain some real world experience by taking up an internship. The clear benefit of an internship is that it will give you hands-on experience while you are exploring career options. For example, if you thought you loved SEO and took up an Internship with SEO-related tasks, you could realize that it’s not your cup of tea, but you’ve still gained the digital experience along the way. People who work in internships will have a chance to prove themselves to an employer. Sometimes a position will open up while someone is interning and the employer will offer them the job first because they already know what his/her work is like and his/her cultural fit with the company. It should be noted that this doesn’t ALWAYS happen. At the very least, an internship will open up your network tremendously. Make connections with those you work with during an internship (maybe add them to LinkedIn!) and who knows, they might know people at other companies with openings that match your interests.
Ultimately, when a resume is light on work experience but has included an internship the applicant has done since graduating school, it gives the impression that this person is dedicated to developing their career in that field. Even better, internships help close that pesky gap between dates of when a person graduates and when they started their first job. This brings us to the next point…
Resume and Cover letter
Does anyone remember printing a dozen copies of your resume that you could just drop off at companies, hoping for a call to come in for an interview? Anyone? Bueller?
No one remembers that practice because it is all but extinct. All resumes are now submitted electronically into the vast world of applicant tracking systems and databases. At the end of the day, the method of submission is not so important but the content of the resume is. It’s great to have a general resume/cover letter template to work with but really, everyone should be tailoring their resume/cover letter to the exact position they are applying for. Every job application you complete is a mini-homework assignment, which requires a degree of research on not only the position, but the company you’re applying for. DO YOUR RESEARCH! You don’t want a full-blown thesis for your resume and cover letter, so the recommended length should be a one page cover letter, followed by a two page resume.
Some tips when writing out both:
The Cover Letter should address your interest in the position by highlighting why you are the perfect candidate for the job and why that company should hire you. This is demonstrated by mentioning past examples of your experience and how they relate to the job you are applying for. This is also your chance to show an employer that you’ve done at least some research on the company (i.e. The opportunity to join an award-winning media agency like ____ has attracted me to apply for your organization…)
When detailing your work experience, make sure to be specific. Be sure that the responsibilities you’re listing are relevant to the job you are applying for. For example, having social media experience is always great, but “managing company Facebook page” is a hard sell when you’re applying for a data-driven analytics type of position. In any case, if you do have statistics or figures to demonstrate your relevant achievements try and incorporate them in your job responsibilities. Nothing is more appealing than tangible, empirical proof of your success. Whether it is work experience, education, or achievements, every point on your resume should contribute in some way as to why you should be hired for that position.
If you’re passionate about a field/industry/company, do what you can to follow any happenings in the news. A lot of companies will have their own social media presence so if you’re really interested, why not click “Like” on their Facebook page or follow their Twitter handle? Companies will often use social media to keep their followers in the know about any game-changing news and how that will affect them or the industry (i.e. Google developing a new Search algorithm). It’s always a good idea to catch up on these, for your general knowledge. Plus, employers will sometimes bring up current events in the industry during an interview and ask a candidate what their opinion is on it. This is usually just to test how current their knowledge is or how well they’ve done their research before an interview. (Shameless DAC plug…DAC employees often weigh in on industry trends and developments here on this blog!)
Another great opportunity to really sink your teeth into digital is to find out if there are any local conferences in your area. These are where many top subject matter experts from all kinds of companies come together and share their knowledge and views on the industry. If you know of one nearby and open to the public, it might be worth attending to get some insight on everything and anything digital. A great example of these are SMX conferences– Search Marketing Expo hosts several events throughout the world at varying times of the year. The events are widely known and attracts many of the top players and influencers in the digital world (DAC Group included).
Congratulations new and soon to be grads! We look forward to meeting you and wish you well as you begin the next chapter of your professional career!