Tag: career advice

Walking away

Uncategorized13 Comments

“To thine ownself be true.”
– William Shakespeare

“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”
– Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

We all like looking at pretty things; especially if we’re the ones creating it.

It can be really hard to resist the lure of dabbling in Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Particularly on the web where part of the brief is to experiment, test and optimise, many digital marketers (myself included) love nothing more than to roll up our sleeves create.

In pretty much every case (unless it’s core business), this is a mistake.

We should learn to let go of those things we perceive as being ‘fun’ to do and focus on what really matters. This means letting go of tinkering and letting the experts do the work even if it’s going to cost you in the short term.

It’s cheaper to DIY

For some businesses this may be true, but for most, this argument doesn’t hold any water.

The cost imperative is often misplaced as the cost in terms of salary/lost productivity of you spending several days designing a new website far outweighs the financial cost of just getting a web designer to do it. Unless you have no money and there is no one else who could possibly do the job, there is no way you can say that the time you spend (a) figuring out how to do something; and (b) doing it at a suboptimal level, could be better spent doing something else that is more core to your business.

Having come from the NFP world where everything was done with shoestring, rubber bands and sticky tape, my thinking has shifted somewhat from trying to do everything myself and putting out an amateurish product, to engaging a professional who shared our vision and had a desire to work with us at a price that wouldn’t hold us to ransom. There are now so many design houses and agencies out there that its not too hard to find someone that matches your ethos and budget.

Ok, so what then?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was from the Managing Partner of a large Adelaide law firm who asked me, “What do you want to be known for?”

While slightly out of context, his point was that if you want to get ahead you need to be an expert at something – your competitive point of difference, if you will – and that if you aren’t clear about what your objectives are for both your career and your job, it’s easy to get distracted. But if you know exactly what you are trying to achieve, it becomes much easier to walk away from the ‘nice to do’ stuff so you can focus on the task at hand and get the job done.

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Getting a job as a digital marketer

Digital Strategy12 Comments

When it comes to hiring digital marketers, it’s a jungle out there.

Even with the number of digital marketing positions on the rise as businesses scramble to avoid being left behind, the growing pool of new digital talent and traditional marketers looking to reposition themselves means that competition in this space is fierce. The emergence of social media, in particular, has altered the landscape yet again making it harder than ever to distinguish genuine talent from the proverbial snake oil salesmen.

With the playing field leveled and everyone now being able to publish and spruik their wares online, what do you need to do to get noticed and ultimately hired?

Over the past few weeks, I have received a number of emails and DMs from people looking for career advice which has prompted me to write this post. However, instead of just hearing from me, I thought it would be even more useful to ask some of the most respected digital marketers in Australia and around the world (including two who have had a profound influence on my career to date),for one piece of advice that they could offer digital job seekers:

Mitch Joel (President, Twist Image; Author, Six Pixels of Separation): Use these channels to become a known voice for whatever it is you’re pursuing. How could someone not hire someone who is regarded in their industry?

Avinash Kaushik (Author, Web Analytics 2.0; Analytics Evangelist, Google): Learn to try new things and play in the real world. There is no better medium in the world for you to try anything you want, all by yourself without the need to rely on your employer to empower you. Tools are free or cheap. Platforms are free or cheap. All you need is a pinch of effort and a dash of desire to learn in the real world. If you do that no one will refuse to hire you because you’ll actually know what the heck you are talking about. If you don’t do that… well…. life will be tougher.

Jason Neave (Managing Director, Via Media): Be visible in the space. If I’m hiring you for a digital marketing role (versus a creative or development one – and even then your online presence plays a huge part), I’ll spend 30 seconds looking at your CV and 30 minutes browsing your social network profiles, blog posts, twitter accounts, flickr galleries, and LinkedIn info. Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to share it. Oh, and if you’re applying, please make the effort to find out who to address your emails/letters to. We get a lot of ‘To Whom it May Concern’ notes. There’s no-one here by that name.

Michelle Prak (Digital Communications Expert, Hughes PR): In whatever you say about yourself online, use keywords. If you’re looking for a job in the digital industry, say so. Don’t just mention the fact that you like cheesecakes and you have a pet dog. Consider how a stranger (and potential employer) would read your profile.

Nic Hodges (Head of Innovation and Technology, Mediacom): Where I see the challenge with talent now is in social and data. Most agencies are still grappling with how they execute and resource social, and that throws up the obvious issue of assessing skillsets and leveraging experience. Add in the plethora of ‘social media gurus’ crowding up the talent pool and there’s a lot of chaff to sort through to get to the wheat. People who can talk social media in real world terms, deliver real business results, and integrate with an overall communications strategy will be highly sought after in the coming years. And whether they go to media, PR, or creative agencies is still up for grabs.

Sarah Thomas (Owner, Carve Consulting): Whilst it is imperative you demonstrate your digital skills and knowledge online, don’t forget about the importance of the real world too. Take your online contacts offline; attend tweetups, industry events, catch up with people for a coffee.

Damien Mair (Principal, Fusion): Be open and willing to try and fail, so you can learn, as following what someone else has done will not provide innovation. There isn’t rules, the people failing will be the ones who leave a path of rules for the followers…to well follow…while you keep evolving….and that is what will make you valuable to whoever you are applying you mind, talents and focus to at the time.

And lastly, my advice: Don’t rely on Twitter to build your reputation. There’s a limit to how insightful you can be in 140 characters. Make the commitment to blog and demonstrate that you not only know your stuff and have some smart things to say but are also up-to-date with emerging trends and have an opinion about the way things are headed.

Did you find this advice useful? What did you think? Is there any other advice you would give to digital job seekers?

Thanks to Mitch Joel, Avinash Kaushik, Jason Neave, Michelle Prak, Nic Hodges, Sarah Thomas and Damien Mair for their generous contributions. If you like what you read, please take the time to check out their blogs/websites, most of which are in my blogroll.

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