Posted on 21 February 2013.
In this economic climate you may think it’s the wrong time to be on the lookout for new roles and that when something does come up that everyone will be after those few. In the case of digital roles (including social media) the landscape is slightly different.
There are currently fewer qualified people about than there are jobs. Certainly not the way round you may have thought. Competition for the starter level roles are as competitive as ever, as graduates are keen to get involved in this exciting and growing sector. I have been one of the lucky few who broke into the sports industry first and then into social media, just as it started to gather pace and the demand became what it is now.
So I wanted to write something that would help as many people as I can out there. Step one was to start showing the types of roles out there; recently I’ve written articles on jobs at Man City, Chelsea, BT Sport and Man United. The next step was to start a ‘jobs board‘, that has now been ticked off and will hopefully grow. Now it is time for something more personal, more long form advice.
What I’ve done is broken down into 5 sections what I believe are the most important areas to consider. It is not a failsafe method of landing a role but hopefully will give you a nudge in the right direction.
1. More than just a passion for sport
Everyone writes “I love football’ at the start of a covering letter for a football related job. But how can you show that these are not just futile words written to show the interviewer that you will be ‘the one’ for them? Go into more detail as to how and why you have this passion. It should show through on your CV (or LinkedIn profile) with volunteer work where you’ve been able to do some and responsibility you have taken on over the years. This could have been as captain of your local team or scorer at the cricket club. Something that demonstrates what you mean.
Employers are interested in not only what you do, and have done, in your career so far but also what you do outside of it. This gives as many clues to them about your personality and passions than anything else. For me, I worked as a volunteer when I wanted to get into event management at the All England Badminton Champs and the World Badminton Champs. This as well as my role as captain of my college football team showed that I really wanted to work in the industry and have what it takes.
2. Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk
Many people these days can use Twitter and Facebook and have heard of Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. If that is the level of your knowledge then you may have to think again and do some experimenting before you start putting pen to paper. It is all very well having ideas about how social media can best be used, but how will people find this out and how can you show it?
I hear quite a lot that people are applying for Social Media Exec and Community Management roles, yet have no social presence at all. I know it doesn’t mean that they can’t do the job but they need to get involved and get their hands dirty to really understand how it works. I know many a colleague who has set up a Facebook page so they can test out new ideas and posts before placing them on brand pages; a great way to experiment without the dangers of blindly posting.
Depending on the level you are looking to go in at, having a knowledge of areas such as; Content Calendars, Crisis/Reputation Management, Blogger Outreach, Social Media Measurement, Advertising and Analytics can all be useful. There are speciality roles within all of these skills and you don’t need to know all of them in-depth. But showing a knowledge of them and how they work can show your worth to a business.
I started out by putting my thoughts out there for people to read. 3 years ago I started this blog up with the intention of helping people in the industry find out the latest information/trends. It has been a crucial element in helping me get where I am today (which is nowhere near where I’d like to end up, but I’m getting there). I also have a personal and business Twitter accounts, both of which are well used and give me an understanding of not only what is out there but also the latest news. I use Twitter as one of my primary news sources for the industry. What do you use yours for?
It is important to me to keep these activities going, no matter how busy I am in my full-time role. It is tough but keeping my profile ‘front of mind’ is important to me. Even more so now that I am self-employed in a fast moving industry.
3. Network, network, network
“It’s not about what you know but who you know” – how many times have you heard this phrase? Most of the people I now know in London are through my work. If I had just settled down at Carat or We Are Social then I would not have met most of the people I can call friends now. You still need to ‘know your stuff’ but having good relationships with these people can prove to be invaluable at different times.
They can help me keep an eye out for potential roles. I meet CEOs of agencies and businesses, not necessarily for a role that they have now but if they do in the future then I have a better chance than if I didn’t know them at all. It’s also not just about what they can do for you, think about what you can do for them. Everyone has a time of need and being there for your friends/colleagues can be invaluable.
One of the reasons I started running events under the UKSN name was because I am quite shy and don’t network very well. Put me in a room full of people and I may only speak to a couple of them. But if I run an event and speak at it then automatically everyone knows who I am. It takes away one of the biggest barriers I faced and helped me speak to people I would never have had the chance to meet.
4. Learn everyday
It is really important to stay on top of the latest trends and developments if you are to succeed in this industry. The pace of change is scary with new innovations and platforms being brought to market by the day. I always make sure I read articles everyday, not just once in a while, but everyday.
Twitter is a great source for finding these articles. Many of them are from personal blogs but a few are from the more recognisable sites such as Fast Company, Techcrunch, Wired, The Wall, Content Marketing Institute, etc. There are so many sources of news to find (from media companies and blogs) and they are all are speaking about the latest developments and giving insights. Twitter is a great way of finding the best ones and saving time you probably don’t have.
Dont just rely on Twitter though. Google Reader, Reddit and many other aggregators help you sift through the clutter to find what you need. Try a few and see what works for you.
5. Be Different
An employer for a role at a top sports club or governing body is going to receive a huge number of applications from aspiring digital marketers. How can you make sure you make it in for an interview and not end up in the bin?
People are becoming more creative, using YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more to set up campaigns with the aim of landing themselves their dream job. It demonstrates to employers that they have the drive and creativity to develop a campaign off their own back. These people have a good chance of getting into the companies they are aiming for.
For me it is about what I do with my blog and events that sets me apart from the crowd. You need to find your own style and skills and make the most of the opportunities they present.
So, find some way in which you can utilise your own talents (everyone has different strengths, it’s a matter of playing to them). Then decide what you want to do – working in social media is very broad, if you know what role within it you are after then you have a better chance of succeeding. Finally, look at who you want to work for and an approach of getting to them.
There are of course more tips and hints that are out there and will also work for you. But these are the ones I feel will put you in the best possible place. Make sure you keep on trying and your hard work will pay off in the long run (it’s not going to happen overnight). Trust me.
It’s worth noting that many employers don’t use agencies to hire, especially smaller agencies and start-ups, but if they find the right people and want to work with them, they will find a place within their organisation. So impress them and show them what you can bring to their business that no-one else can (or very few anyway).
Anything is possible in this world. Believe in yourself and go for it. There are many people who have succeeded in the industry and will offer their advice, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Good luck…. and don’t forget to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date!