It’s a dog eat dog world out there when it comes to job hunting in the creative industries. This can be especially challenging if you’re a fresh graduate with potentially little to no experience.
For every entry level role we advertise, we receive upwards of 100 applications in the first week. This harsh reality was met with concerned faces from the students and graduates in the audience of our Social Media Day event. So, how do you get your CV in front of the right people and make sure your application stands out from the rest?
Our Managing Director, Mike Scott tells us what matters most to him when choosing prospective employees.
Applying for your first role in marketing
It’s all too easy to fall at the first hurdle. Here are our top tips to avoid common pitfalls when applying for your dream job.
1. Don’t apply too quickly (or leave it to the last minute)
We know you’re eager to get started but applying within 5 minutes of a job going live could make it look like you didn’t spend much time preparing. Similarly, don’t leave it too late. It’s not uncommon to close applications early when there’s a high volume of applicants!
2. Tailor your application
Think about the objectives of the business or role you’re applying for and highlight skills you could bring to the table. If it’s a digital role, put your digital experience first.
3. Keep it concise
You have roughly ten seconds to impress an employer, so don’t make your application too long and only include things that are relevant. That paper round you had aged 13 doesn’t need to be mentioned.
4. Don’t be too quirky
It’s important to show your personality but you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. Employers want to make sure anyone new will fit in, so seeming obnoxious won’t help with that.
5. Include a cover letter
A personalised cover letter is vital when applying for a job. This is your opportunity to showcase your passion and enthusiasm for what you do. It’s also a great chance to show employers that you’ve done your homework and researched the business.
6. Clean up your personal social media accounts
We’re a specialist social media agency so it’s no surprise that this is one of the first things we’ll look at when considering a new hire. If you have a public profile on any social media platform or digital space, then it’s important to consider what this looks like to a potential employer.
7. Design your CV
Plain and simple, make sure it looks good. This is especially important if you’re a designer. And don’t forget to run spellcheck.
8. Focus on relevant experience first
As a graduate, it’s tempting to put your qualifications at the top of your CV, but all graduates have a degree - It’s your initiative and your work experience that will make you stand out. Focus on your most relevant experience first, even if it’s unpaid or voluntary work, then list your jobs and lastly, add your qualifications.
9. Create your own experience
If you can’t get professional work experience, then create your own. Look out for internships but don’t be afraid to approach local businesses too. Want to be a social media manager? Offer to manage their social presence. Want to be designer? Create some assets for the business to use!
Tips for your interview
You’ve made it to the interview stage – well done! Out of potentially hundreds of applicants, you cut through the competition. Here’s how you nail the next challenge.
1. Don’t come too early
Interviews are often done back to back so arrive in plenty of time, but any longer than 15 minutes and you could become an inconvenience.
2. Don’t wear a suit
This is all about knowing your audience. We’re an agency, not a bank. Look presentable, but don’t go over the top!
3. Come prepared
In your interview, talk about brands, campaigns and social content that you like. Show your passion for social media marketing.
4. Ask questions
Have questions at the ready! Employers love to see enthusiasm from interviewees so ask what a typical day in the life looks like, where they see the future of social or what the long-term goals are for the brand.
Hear it from those who’ve made it
Ross and Robyn graduated last year and started working at Hydrogen, but before that, both of them had their own challenges on their journey. We asked them what advice they’d give students and graduates to help their application stand out.
Ross, junior designer
“The biggest challenge I had after graduation was creating a portfolio to show off my skills to potential employers. I decided the easiest way to do this was to offer my services for free to begin with. When I got my job at Hydrogen, over 70% of my portfolio was work I’d done for free. Initially, I contacted hundreds of businesses offering video and graphic design work and only received a single reply – a bar in Ibiza. I packed my bags and spent the season working for them.
"It’s important to set yourself challenges, get out your comfort zone and set aside time for self-learning. Above all, be proactive, persevere and keep a positive mentality!”
Robyn, social media community executive
"I’ve always been a creative person who loves writing. I followed a lot of social media influencers and decided to start a lifestyle blog, Hey There Robyn. Initially this was just a fun way to learn new skills, but as I gained followers it blossomed into something much more. My blog became my experience and I began using this in my interview examples. I learned transferable skills like copywriting, social media, SEO and brand building.
"As a graduate, it’s important to be proactive. I knew I wanted to work in social media marketing but no one was hiring, so I started sending prospective CVs to companies I wanted to work for. By the time I graduated, I was working in my dream job at Hydrogen.”