digital professional

If you’re looking for some helpful and actionable advice regarding working in the digital sector from someone who’s an expert in recruiting in the industry, you’ve come to the right place.

For today’s blog, we had a chat with Deepak Saluja, Director of Success Digital, Recruitment Specialists, about what you need to know when applying for jobs in digital and what steps you should take when the time comes to move on from your current employer.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about a career in the digital sector?

DS: The first thing you need to do is decide which area of the digital sector appeals most to you. If it’s the creative side, I’d suggest taking a degree in Digital or Graphic Design – or if it’s the technical side, I’d suggest a degree in Computer Science or Web Development. This will help you to start learning more about the trade. And then within that, getting some work experience or an internship would give you some key industry experience which employers are really looking for.

If you want to go down the marketing route, you really need to try and get a marketing or related degree. You should also try and get a post qualification, such as a CIM qualification, which will give you a better start to your marketing career – we find that a lot of employers definitely want these extra qualifications, especially when it comes to graduates.

The other key thing is to try and get onto online courses. These hold a lot of weight and show initiative – especially when it comes to interviews, because you’ll be able to talk the language better than other graduates who are applying for these roles. This will definitely give you a competitive advantage in that respect.

A lot of digital businesses are becoming more commercial and data-focused – so another key thing you could do is start learning about analytics packages, even if it’s just Google Analytics which you don’t have to pay for. This way, you can evaluate campaigns and look at how you can help to commercially drive the business forward. Again, this gives you a strong selling point as you’ve taken the time to get some exposure to analytics.

Q: What are the most common mistakes you see when people apply for digital jobs?

DS: One of the biggest mistakes, especially with the technical CVs, is listing too many software and technical skills which then turns the CV into a bit of a marathon essay. We also find that a mistake that more experienced candidates make is trying to put everything down on their CV. Ideally, your CV should be two/three pages maximum – you need to keep it really concise.

As a graduate the problem is that you don’t have that much experience – so you really need to include buzzwords and transferrable skills and qualities which you know are suitable for the role you’re applying for.

Another common graduate mistake is not including a career objective or profile which explains why you’re applying for the role or you’re applying for jobs in the sector.

Similarly, not including a relevant hobby or interest in your hobbies section which is relevant to the job you’re applying for is also a big mistake. We see lots of examples of CVs with
hobbies like ‘reading’ or ‘cooking’ – but they won’t mention what’s going on in digital, either from an innovation perspective or marketing – so that doesn’t go down too well because it doesn’t demonstrate passion or interest within the sector.

Lastly, personalising your CV for the role is essential. It’s no good saying you have ‘creative flair’ if you’re applying for a trading and analytics role – you don’t need creative flair for those roles. Take a step back, think about the role you’re applying for and revisit your CV. You could always have different versions of your CV for the types of roles you’re applying for.

Q: What are the main reasons job seekers get turned down for jobs within digital?

DS: A lot of job seekers are now getting greedy – they’re looking for increases of 20-30% on their current salary. Whenever we work with our clients, we always state what a candidate’s current salary is and what their expectations are – so straight away a lot of candidates are rejected because clients can’t manage those salary expectations and they also feel that the candidates don’t have that worth.

Similarly, with a lot of candidates that are called in for interview, they can’t demonstrate that they’re worth the salaries that they’re requesting. An employer will look at their current salary banding and they’ll look at the talent pool – and sometimes they’ll feel that the candidate can’t bring any added value to the business.

Also, the sector is becoming much more specialist, particularly in digital marketing – and the problem is that a lot of employers are looking at CVs and thinking they’re too general as opposed to specialist. Employers now want specialists in digital.

Even if you are a specialist, if you’ve got a general job title, you can still get overlooked. The problem is that job titles mean different things to different companies. We find that a lot of employers, when they’re under pressure, will just look at job titles and won’t really look at the details or the contents of the job they’re doing until interview-stage. This means a lot of candidates are getting overlooked because employers are dismissing CVs based on job titles.

To avoid this, you should pick out your relevant experience and skills for the role and highlight these right at the top of your ‘Experience’ section – and you should also put these in your profile/career objectives summary at the top of your CV.

Q: Are creative CVs essential in the digital sector?

DS: I don’t actually think the creative/presentation element of your CV is that important. Of course, you don’t want your CV to be ‘plain Jane’ boring but you also don’t want to get too adventurous because sometimes with the CVs that have a lot of formatting, when you print them out they don’t come out the right way. Also, it’s worth mentioning that if you turn your CV into a PDF, it can make your CV attachment really big which can mean it won’t always get past employers’ firewalls and into their inboxes.

My advice would be to be creative but also try and keep it simple – it’s more about the content you include than the presentation.

Q: What key skills should job seekers add to their CV for the digital sector?

DS: It all depends on the roles you want to apply for – but if it’s analytics or trading-based, try and highlight any MS office skills you have, particularly Excel. Talk about databases you’ve had exposure to or worked on, such as SQL or any CRM database systems you’ve worked on. It’s also always good to highlight tools or programming or software languages you’ve used, whether it’s HTML or any email tools or email providers you’ve worked with.

For Digital Marketers, especially manager level; they should try to highlight that they have good experience across all the marketing channels. Try to specify key channel expertise where possible and international campaign experience, if applicable. Also, mention ownership of budgets, strategy and roadmap. At entry/junior level, always make reference to Digital or Marketing related courses and include a powerful career objective/statement

Creative candidates should always include their online portfolio address so recruiters can assess their taste levels and band width. Also, similar to Trading candidates, it would be a good idea to highlight technical skills and key projects.

Q: If someone is looking to enter the digital sector, what niche would you advise them to look at?

DS: There are definitely four key entry-level areas for graduates in digital – which is Marketing, Content, Production and Web Admin roles which can filter through to jobs such as re-touchers or analytics.

Q: What advice would you give to job seekers looking to take their next step up the digital career ladder?

DS: The best advice I could give is that because digital is so fast, you should milk it while you can but don’t get too greedy. Stay with the business for anything between 18-24 months and then review your position. If you feel that there’s a clear roadmap for you to progress within the business, you should stay – but only stay if you feel the business is evolving within the digital landscape and transforming and innovating at the pace the industry demands.

If you are looking to move on, you need to ensure you’ve championed and hit certain objectives and key KPIs so you can put these on your CV. We find that a lot of our clients want to see what real achievements these professionals have had within their previous companies. Now the industry is more connected, referrals are also more important so a lot of checks are now being made regarding how the candidate fit within the business and performed. This means that whatever you put down, you need to make sure you’ve achieved these things and can back it them up at the interview stage.

So there you go; some top tips from one of the biggest recruiters in the digital industry right now.