If you are all over Facebook (seriously, it’s so over), are tweet-tastic and could pin all day, then a job in social media marketing might just be your dream job. But how do you get that illusive first break? When we advertised for a search & social media adviser role a couple of months ago we got over 60 applications from all over the world. Surprised? We were. We were also surprised at the quality and consistency of the CVs – come on guys this is social media, not a job in a bank! This is possibly the coolest, most interesting, ever changing industry in the world so if you are going to stand out and get that dream first job there are some things you need to know.
Express your personality.
80% of the CVs we received were bland. CV best practice may be fairly prescriptive but go on, break the rules. Working in online marketing is about creativity and wow. Assuming you are creative and wow (and who are you not to be?), then express it. It’s the elusive skills that we are looking for! The applicants that made our long list used wonky fonts and non-standard CV layouts, they tweeted at us, asked us questions and made us laugh. They also prioritised, putting the things they are proudest of in the most prominent position.
Just do it.
We are looking for people with commitment and experience – not necessarily work experience, but experience of using blogging and social channels. You need to show us your chops and tell us your aspirations. With such a large pool of applicants, if you weren’t blogging for work, a charity, a hobby or just for fun, then we didn’t look at your CV twice.
If you are a student or doing a job you hate currently and want to make the move in to this industry then my strong advice would be to just do it. Volunteer to help a local shop, gym or cafe, a charity or a local band with their online marketing – you’ll get a load of experience and help someone out along the way.
Show me the social
In some industries you might worry about letting your boss see your Facebook page, but in this industry, you need to get over that. I want to see your social profile to see if you are engaging and properly active on social media. Your social media presence – at work or personally – is what will move you from our long list of possible applicants to the shortlist of people we are eager to see.
For a social media job it was surprising how few applications put social links on their CVs. Being security conscious is right and correct, but please give me a way in so that you have a chance to shine. And if you don’t want to do this with your personal account, see point 2 above and have a showcase of voluntary or paid work.
Having said that I will judge you. Not on your musical taste, drunken nights out, Angry Birds score or swearing, but think twice about posting casual racism, nudity or trolling. I have to trust you with our clients so you need to be circumspect on what you post on your personal channels too (but if you follow @MrJonPayne on Twitter, then you’ll know we are relatively tolerant).
Covering letters are still important (maybe more so)
I don’t really care what GCSEs you got at 16, I want to know YOU. Personality fit is really important in a company of our size and your covering letter is where we get a sense of what you are like and whether you will fit in. Think about how we are going to remember you amongst all the other applicants . . .
Allow yourself to be fabulous.
Getting an interview is hard enough, controlling your nerves at an interview can be even tougher. I know this is easy to say, but relax. We want you to be fabulous and we need you to be self-confident enough to deal with clients and learn from your experiences. Avoid slouching, constantly touching your face or hair, failing to make eye contact or squirming with embarrassment. You’ve got an interview! You should be delighted and excited to show off what else you can do.
Need some help with this? If you practice faking confidence to start with, then it becomes easier and easier to actually be confident. There are some great online resources to help you fake it until you make it.
Answer the question & show off
We want you to explain what you can do and how you can help us, so at interview we ask questions that are designed to allow you to show off. Not make stuff up as you can tell really quickly when someone starts to bullshit, but to make connections between what you know and what we need. Before an interview, it’s definitely worth thinking objectively about what the company is looking for so that you can underline how well you will fit their needs.
Personally I love interviews – it’s the only time I can talk about myself without thinking I’m boring everyone. Although, if the panel looks bored, it’s probably time to shut up! To work in an online marketing agency you do not need to be a mad extravert or techno wizard. We are looking for people who are engaging, trustworthy, ambitious and have enough objectivity, creativity and determination to showcase what they can do.
We ended up employing the awesome Lily. She sent us a CV that made us all go ‘WOW we have to talk to her’, then pitched up to the interview and was funny, interesting and engaging. She already has a blog and clearly wants to learn more. From an employer’s perspective, she has everything I’m looking for – confidence, experience and personality. Yay!
By the way, we are always recruiting, so if you’ve got this far and know you have what it takes to be part of a growing team, then please send me your CV!