With a tremendous shortage in digital skills compared to the growth of the digital marketing industry, there is no better time than to gain the edge you need to excel in a digital marketing career. If you are part of the emerging digital industry in South Africa, it may be of some motivation to know that a total of 47% of the South African population are internet users, and to add to this, it has been estimated that by 2017 South African consumers will be spending a total of R59 billion on internet access which is a huge leap from the R19.8 billion spent in 2014 (source). According to Rob Stokes, the Founder and Group CEO of Quirk, the growth in the digital industry has been so rapid (an annual growth of 30-50%) that is has been impossible for skills development to keep up. If you turn to Google you will surely be met with thousands of articles on how to change your career, skills, networking and much more, however, this week I decided to take more of a holistic approach to career enhancement, I’ll be discussing some statistics, the psychology behind success, skill enhancement and more. Here are some facts and tips to help you enhance your career, and even more so in the digital industry.
The Importance of Practise
The importance of the process we implement in order to better ourselves is often completely overlooked when we try to engineer the path to our success.
I came across a fascinating article published on Medium by Srinivas Rao where it has been brought to my attention, that the majority of us rely on our performance on projects to be the driver of our success rather than the process. What this comes down to is the fact that in your career, as with many other things in your life, you will practice much more than you perform. Rao uses the example of a musician in his article by demonstrating that a musician will spend hundreds of hours practicing for a single performance, and when we look at his statement from this point of view, it is undeniable that practice is just as important, if not more important, than performance.
In order to improve not only your career but also your daily life at the office, you need to find happiness within the process leading to performance. In the situation of a digital marketer, for example, the process can include things such as market research, keyword research, studying, reading articles, practising the use of your daily tools such as Google Analytics, WordPress, social media, etc. Since your practice is what fuels your performance, it is in your practice where you need to expend all your effort and your performance will be a mirror image of this. When you start to see the importance of practice over performance, you will be set apart from those who only rely on performance and save their energy for when they are in the spotlight instead of when they are in the process.
Keeping your skills sharp by practising them daily, will aid you when you are faced with new challenges or projects because you will be the one set apart from the rest by continuing as if it is business as usual for you.
Build your own ladder
In the year 2016, it’s evident that the workplace is a vastly different place from what it was 20 years ago. Millennials find themselves in a workforce that is the polar opposite of what parents, teachers and dusty textbooks made them believe. However, being the largest generation on the planet with a highly overcrowded and competitive talent pool, millennials have quickly adapted to the new order of things in order to “make it”. Kathleen Murphy, president of Personal Investing, a Fidelity Investments company, says in her post on The Muse that millennials are more focused on enhancing their skills than their titles due to how rapidly the world is changing. Millennials understand that promotion plans and tenure have become much less prevalent and it has become a necessity to develop a broader skill-set to be more valuable and to enjoy a successful career. Along with their skills, millennials have also changed the very environments which they work in to be more accommodating to free thinkers. In many work environments there used to be a strong sense of bureaucracy where ideas and conversations were limited to scheduled meetings which took time and occurred at times where staff are least likely to be inspired. Millennials have started questioning authority, in corporations as well, by asking for more flexibility and an environment where unscheduled discussions can take place and ideas are able to flow naturally.
In the world of digital marketing, this is no different from Kathleen’s experience in the investment industry. We need to develop more varied skills to adapt in this fast-paced industry, especially when considering that the digital marketing industry is annually increasing at a much higher rate than skills resources. I am by no means saying that we will no longer be specialising in our chosen fields, may it be SEO, PPC, Content Management or whichever you would consider your niche, but we need to view the industry we work in as a Venn diagram where we need at least a basic working knowledge of all things relating to our industry.
There is no corporate ladder left to climb, each one of us builds our own ladder and how high it goes depends on the strength and diversity of the skills we practice.
In the digital age that we live in, we have an endless amount of resources at our disposal when it comes to career enhancement ranging from online courses at reputable institutions such as Udemy, Coursera, Shaw Academy and of course iMod Education which all offer affordable courses to boost your career, to millions of blogs which we can follow to gain insight to building professional relationships, networking and leadership skills.
Keep up with your industry
As I am sure you have gathered from my previous point, in order for you to diversify your skills while still remaining relevant, is by keeping up with the trends in your industry and news from reputable leaders within that industry. By staying in the know, you place yourself at a great advantage to keep your skills up to date and valuable to your work while outperforming the greater majority of your peers.
As the world and the internet changes, we need to mould our capabilities to use the resources available to us fully.
Earlier this year Mashable published an article where they had asked 15 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) what skills and qualities they look for when hiring digital marketers. Their answers ranged from technical skills such as SEO, SEM, to social media advertising and a likeable sales personality all the way to objective, analytical and creative thinking. While this article proves very insightful when trying to gauge what industry leaders are currently looking for, I wanted to find a more tangible list of skills.
Search Engine Journal and the Digital Marketing Institute covered this topic in their blogs earlier this year and after a thorough reading, I have compiled a list of the top “must-have” skills in Digital Marketing today:
- SEO/Inbound Marketing
- PPC – Pay Per Click Advertising
- Writing and Copywriting
- Design and Photo Editing
- Paid Social Media Advertising. More specifically, Facebook Advertising
- Social Media Marketing
- Conversion Rate Optimisation
There is no way of getting around having these vital skills or continually adding to your arsenal as the industry changes. The point here is that you need to be at the forefront of the latest news in your industry, know which developments are underway, know which breakthroughs have been made and understand them in order to immediately update your skills to match what your industry demands at that point in time.
The truth about job-hunting in 2016
I am quite sure that by now all of us have seen the large increase in articles written about millennials, how they work, how they succeed, how they learn, and what sets them apart. Now, while this may become slightly excessive if you follow the same social media pages and blogs as I do, we have to consider that there is an important reason for this. Millennials, for those of you that have not been bombarded with these articles, are individuals born between 1980 and the early 2000’s. The reason I bring this up is because not only are millennials the largest living generation, with the oldest millennials being 36 and moving into more managerial roles, our co-workers and bosses will most likely both be part of the millennial generation so it’s time to pay attention to the business world that they are sculpting and how to find your feet in it.
The process of looking for a job has never been more diverse. From going place to place or responding to newspaper advertisements and classifieds in the past, to today being able to find employment through social media. Gone are the days of your simple Word resumes too. There seem to be a few major mistakes that we all tend to make in today’s job market. According to an article by Huffington Post, millennials are still, regardless of their driven, entrepreneurial natures, settling and taking what they get instead of mapping out what it is they want to achieve and formulating a plan to get there. Currently, a massive 12.8% of American millennials are unemployed which only fuels the generation’s fear of finding worthy employment after studying (source).
I did some further research on what leaders in various industries view as the most valuable job hunting advice, read countless articles of regurgitated information and in all of this I found very few that showed understanding and compassion. After being in the recruitment industry and also having been through this myself during such a competitive time for young people in the job market, I have opted to put together my own list of true and tested tips for when you are looking for your next job which comes from a place of experience and understanding of the struggles out there:
- Instead of focusing on articulating your speech more than you normally do, trying to sound impressive and hoping your interview outfit is as crisp as the fancy boardroom you’re sitting in, tell the interviewers your story. Each one of us has our unique story that brings us to that very moment where we are in a chair in front of people way more successful than us in whose hands our very futures are placed. Of all the things you could tell your interviewers, humanity and attitude are the main things that they will remember and showing them the road you took to earn that seat, will allow them to see much further than the “tech speech” and pressed jackets.
- Find a company where you will be mentored instead of managed. As I mentioned earlier, millennials seek experience and skills over titles. Do your research and approach a company where employee growth and skills development are nurtured.
- Educate yourself with short, specialised courses and reading material. You will quickly find this type of learning so much more valuable than you would ever have thought or even more valuable than years of studying a single subject. With courses and certifications such as these, you start to specialise and become an expert. I believe that in the near future more companies will also start catching up to the recognition of short courses during their recruitment process, especially after one of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters, Ernst & Young, have removed the degree classification from their entry criteria as they have found that having a university degree does not equal later success (source). A great way to commit to the mindset of continuous learning is by setting smaller goals for yourself. I personally challenge myself to find and read at least 2 articles a day that could teach me something new.
- Take back control over your job search and do it yourself by creating a unique resume, applying for less popular jobs where there is a greater chance of standing out, and only apply to companies which you are able to research instead of generic job ads.
Clear the clutter – go digital
As professionals in the digital industry it only makes sense to move our desk to the digital space too, right? There are fantastic (and free) online applications that we can use to organise our desks, calendars, lives and devices. By integrating these apps into your daily life, you will shave hours off mundane tasks and get back the time to do the things that really matter.
For some great insight on where to start with your new digital desk, stay tuned for next week’s blog post where I’ll share with you the apps we use in our office on a daily basis to streamline our to-do lists.
The world out there is tough and highly competitive, stay unique, stay relevant, stay true to yourself and don’t get caught in the mainstream’s strong current.
Until next week!
Yours in digital,
Images credit: Freepik