First off, congratulations on deciding you’d like a career in digital marketing – your next decision is whether you’d like to join an agency, or work client side.
This post is for those of you who are looking to go the agency route, and is a summary of an interview with Paul Crabtree, Managing Director of Velo, a London-based digital communications agency, that specialises in telling complicated stories clearly. DMA Members and a RAR “Recommended Agency”, Velo clients include Babcock, Cisco, easyJet, Baylis & Harding, and Universal Music.
So, Paul, have you added any digital graduates to your team?
Yes, we have, adding people into our creative team, our client services, account management and our finance teams.
That’s quite a few – how do you find them?
They reach out to us in two ways – either through a recruitment agency, or direct. I much prefer the direct route.
Recruitment agencies charge the employer a fee, sometimes up to 30% of your first year salary, and although they have good contacts, they do add to the cost of taking on a new member of staff, sometimes significantly. And, if you think of an agency of 20 people, like Velo, this extra cost means extra risk. Usually when a recruitment agency are involved, we’re only interested in the finished article. Go direct, and you will have more chance of a role being available to those at the start of their career.
Can you tell us more about how someone looking for their first job should do this?
To find a list of appropriate agencies, one of the most obvious things to do, is search the media for those that have won recent projects. They may be in need of more support.
An alternative route, is through associations such as the Direct Marketing Association who’s members are of a specific size and pedigree.
What makes a good approach in your eyes?
When you do approach the agency, do some research. A carefully written email with excellent English (please proof read it one more time….) is key – after all, you’d be representing the agency in verbal and written communication and if you cannot spell or write a coherent sentence, you will fall at the first hurdle.
We’ve created two roles in our agency – one in client services, one in creative for people who wrote articulate and well-crafted introduction emails. We’ve also dismissed the emails of 100s who didn’t. Watch out especially for Apple Auto-correct on your typing – subtle but incorrect changes are not your friend!
But who do you know who to approach?
When sending in your initial introduction email target the senior agency team members who lead the area you’d like to work in. For most graduates, Client Services or Account Management is where it starts. Most agency team members have an up to date LinkedIn profile with their contact details so use it to identify the right people.
Your email should be concise, relevant and easy to scan read. Try and use proof points as they will grab the attention e.g. “After working at Agency X in a summer gap year working on campaigns for BRAND….”. Avoid waffle – a good test is asking whether one of your parents would understand what you’re saying.
After all, a well-written email introduction coupled, with good LinkedIn research you are already demonstrating aptitude in digital marketing!
Do you have any guidelines for an accompanying good CV?
Your CV should be attached to your email – and you need to make it look right. For digital marketing candidates, we look for certain things:
1. Is it in a PDF?
If you use Word, sometimes rare fonts can be distorted. Using a PDF means that what you send is what they see. Always.
2. Do you know the type of role you want?
At the start of your career having a hunger to do well, and clarity around your career direction reassures us you’ll also try hard in this role. After all, when you start, the agency will be investing time and effort in to you, and they are looking for reassurance that this risk will not be in vain!
3. What are your main achievements and experience?
List out the skills you have using points of reference (use of software like Photoshop, Adwords) and any marketing experience you have had (and if you don’t have any, consider volunteering at an agency or charity to get some). Again, an agency wants reassurance that their risk will pay off, so having base line skills that are up front and clear is key.
What should you do when you don’t get a response?
If you don’t get a response, don’t despair. After all, you are asking someone to invest thousands of pounds in you, so it is not an impulse decision. In many cases, the key is contacting the target agency as/when they advertise an appropriate role.
Consider following it up, but don’t nag. After all, you are again demonstrating business skills and a willingness to make something happen. Agencies succeed as their staff make things happen.
I’d advise you not to use the phone out of the blue though, unless it is to find the appropriate email address. What is important to you (a role) may not be important to them at that point (consider that they may be in the middle of a project deadline).
After this initial approach what is likely to happen, and what are you looking for?
You’re likely to be invited to an interview either face-to-face or on the telephone. The key here is to remember to be articulate, truthful, clear and do not oversell your abilities. As an agency, we’re looking for people who are quick to learn, eager, honest and hard working – after all, as you start your journey in digital marketing you will have a lot to take on initially, and it comes back to mitigating that risk again!
Any other considerations?
An agency wants to be reassured that you can represent them in the right way if you join them. So, as well as your CV, be aware that your public facing social media profiles are likely to be reviewed. In an agency, ‘company fit’ is an important consideration and if you share inappropriate views on Twitter in your spare time, that may be a cause for concern. After all, if the agency in the recruitment phase can find these things, clients are likely to find them as well!
Thanks Paul, really helpful advice for anyone looking to get into a digital marketing agency.
No problem – for anyone looking for a role at Velo, we advertise all roles on our site – www.velomarketing.co.uk and we’d be glad to hear from anyone following the guidance in this article.