If you’re looking for your first marketing job, you may wonder what skills digital marketing companies are looking for in entry-level candidates.
To help you know what companies want in up-and-coming marketers, Stukent asked talent acquisition experts, HR representatives, and other business leaders for their insights. From digital proficiency to communication skills, creativity, and more, developing these 12 skills will not only help you land your first job but excel at it, too!
- Digital Proficiency
- Communication Skills
- Writing Skills
- Collaboration and Adaptability
- Data Analytics Skills
- Search Engine Optimization
- Writing Down Observations
- Eagerness to Learn
1. Digital Proficiency
Consumers are savvier than ever, and they appreciate it when marketing campaigns engage them directly. From social media engagement to interactive ads in apps or on websites, marketing is leaning more and more into the digital world. It is essential to understand not only how social media engagement works but also what drives an audience to and away from trends. Marketing professionals need to understand the digital world to be truly interactive.
Stephen Skeel, 7 Wonders
2. Communication Skills
One of the most lucrative skills that most companies are looking for in candidates is communication. Since all business is now tied to the internet, and because social media is such a huge tool for marketing these days, it is imperative that a business have clear and effective brand messaging. All content that any business produces should relate back to and reinforce brand messaging, which is why having someone who is a strong communicator is paramount. A communicator not only serves as a helpful writer and editor of content across all sectors but can also be instrumental in creating in-house communications to employees, thus making company practices and standards more accessible.
Guna Kakulapati, CureSkin
A person’s ability to take responsibility for their actions can be far more valuable than their other skills or education. A person who is not afraid of admitting failures and challenges will help you to solve problems before they destroy your business. By contrast, someone who always sugarcoats their experience will likely hide things from you when it matters most.
Ask candidates about times when things didn’t go well. Listen carefully for language that indicates that they were communicative with other people on their team about the problems they faced. If they use a lot of “I” language and not much “we” language, it could be a red flag. If they blame others for their failures, it’s also a red flag. But if they give credit to their team for success, and talk about consulting with their manager to solve problems, it’s a good indicator that they would be a valuable new hire.
Dennis Consorte, Snackable Solutions
4. Writing Skills
It isn’t uncommon to take a writing test during an interview. That’s because it’s important to know whether a marketing professional can communicate using the written word. So much of the job, particularly an entry-level job, requires writing emails, press releases, and other literature related to selling a brand. Writing is the most fundamental skill that a marketing professional should have. Even if so much of it is centered on social media, you need to show you have the ability to write. Sloppy writing is sure to sink you.
Chris Riley, USA Rx
Look for creativity and imagination. When a young marketing graduate has that natural spark of creativity and is open to learning new ideas, they’re going to add incredible value to the company. Creativity and imagination are imperative for a successful career in marketing, and unlike technical skills, they are two skills you cannot teach. Hire an entry-level marketing graduate with creativity and imagination, and you’ll hire someone who will naturally think outside the box and help grow the company’s success.
Karim Hachem, Sunshine79
6. Collaboration and Adaptability
Workers have shifted their priorities in life, and work-life balance is the key. The pandemic and The Great Resignation have proven remote or hybrid workplaces are crucial factors right now. A remote or hybrid workforce is growing, and eventually, companies will have to manage on-site and hybrid/remote teams. Collaboration is a powerful tool that can help or improve employee engagement across multiple fields and keep talents in companies softening impacts on retention rates. Collaborative people are a real and essential demand in industries worldwide.
Since maintaining collaborative teams is not that easy in times of high innovation, look for the ability to maintain a positive outlook on change, even for entry-level. It is crucial and helps implement a culture where changes are normal and guarantees the team’s highest performance.
Ricardo von Groll, Talentify
7. Data Analytics Skills
Data analytics are at the center of every successful marketing strategy. Therefore, an entry-level marketer’s ability to identify trends in audience behavior will either make or break their campaign’s performance. Empathy and communication are good skills to have, but the data from readers’ reactions will tell them whether they need to improve the content we’re publishing. Without proper data analysis, no campaign will ever be as effective as it could be, because marketers won’t know when or where they should optimize. This is the skill that will help entry-level graduates the most in developing their overall marketing skills.
Brian Nagele, Restaurant Clicks
An entry-level marketing graduate must at least possess the skill of being a rhetorical speaker. This means that they are able to deliver words with concision and in a way that hooks the other person to the message. Shreds of knowledge from books are learnable, but having a persuasive way of speaking as a skill will help the candidate jumpstart his/her career and, in turn, provide something valuable to the company’s table.
Ultimately, persuasion abilities can help you perform better in the marketing field. If you work in sales, you may be asked to persuade customers to buy a particular service or product. Persuasion may be used to inspire and motivate your team members, therefore contributing to the company’s overall viability.
Sam Browne, HARO SEO
9. Search Engine Optimization
SEO is one of the most prominent facets of digital marketing. As the internet continues to evolve and many of us spend the majority of our lives online, understanding the inner workings of SEO is vital for new marketers. On-page SEO such as meta descriptions, updated content, image alt text, and mobile-friendliness all contribute to the success of a website. Off-page SEO such as social media promotion, reviews, and influencer marketing contribute just as much to the backend. Finally, technical SEO such as sitemaps and navigation acts as a foundation for SEO marketing efforts.
Even for nontechnical marketing roles, I would say that having a basic understanding of SEO will improve a new graduate’s career prospects and make them incredibly valuable not just to tech marketing companies but also to smaller agencies as well. Digital marketing companies need talented SEOs now more than ever, and that need is expected to grow in the future.
Dustin Ray, Inc File
One of the top skills many entry-level marketers lack is clarity about which specific marketing field they would like to pursue. The concepts behind marketing efforts like SEO, PPC, and email marketing are similar, and recent graduates always overburden themselves by trying to be a superman. But at the end of the day, you’re one person, and you must dedicate efforts in one direction to succeed.
Therefore, delegating other (related) marketing efforts to your subordinates or colleagues is essential to get efforts in a single line. Focusing on a single marketing sphere gives you time to research more about that specific field rather than letting your mind run in 10 different directions. I advise recent marketing graduates to explore various marketing concepts during their education and sell themselves for one single skill in their interviews!
Jibran Qazi, MCPD
11. Writing Down Observations
The most important skill anyone who wants to start a marketing career should have is the ability to write their observations. Marketing is all about understanding consumers and communicating with them in ways that will make them want to buy what you have to offer. And that’s not just about collecting data and crunching numbers — it’s also about being able to take those numbers and turn them into effective strategies for your business. And that means being able to communicate clearly and effectively with whoever needs to hear your message: other marketers, product managers, clients, customers … even yourself!
Divyank Jain, The Wise Idiot
12. Eagerness to Learn
An entry-level graduate’s experience or expertise will not be the main focus of an interview, but I always look for one important quality — an eagerness to learn. As a marketer, what works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow. Being eager to learn and having curiosity will help them continue to thrive, test out new solutions, always be on top of the latest trends, be eager to understand consumer behavior, come up with new ideas, and always be innovative in their approach.
Daniel Apke, Land Investing Online
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