Nowadays, everyone has their fingers in the digital marketing pie and rightly so. In an increasingly internet and mobile enabled world, a strong online marketing strategy is absolutely essential to success in a busy marketplace.
Whether it’s huge agencies providing for the biggest brands, or in-house teams working at the smallest start-ups, companies are constantly looking to expand their teams and deliver better and better brand coverage online.
Naturally, many companies are looking to graduates to fit many of these roles. Having grown up in the beginning of the digital age, graduates are ideal to fill many of these positions. Whether it’s their natural tech-savvy or intuitive understanding of the platforms, getting your millennial hires is maybe more important than ever in the marketing industry. So where do you start?
Identify your gaps…
Of course, the chances of you hiring your new CMO or Head of Digital straight from university are pretty small. However, there are hiring gaps across the whole spectrum that can be filled by able graduates.
Whether content creation is your key need, you’re after a top-notch community manager or a technical whizz, the most important thing is to identify the gap or else you’re wasting your time. Many millions are wasted each year by companies hiring people without a clear idea of what they’ll be doing and how they’re going to benefit the company.
Even if you have a smaller team looking to invest in a more general marketing executive, create a hierarchy of needs. Perhaps you need a content creator who can spend time on SEO and social media. Maybe you need a coder who can help out with web development and analytics. Either way, create a list of the skills you need and their importance, and you’ll be able to get someone in who will start adding value straight away.
…and the skills they need
Now that you know what you need, how do you find it in a graduate? Well across the spectrum there’s a few key indicators.
Regardless of the role, you want to look for someone with enthusiasm. You need someone prepared to knuckle down and make an impact straight away. In a constantly-changing industry, you can’t afford to have an un-motivated downtrodden member of your team.
Here we have another key tenant of a great digital marketing hire; adaptability. The world of digital can swing wildly with one change of the google algorithm, or a new social media platform emerging.
You need to look for someone used to juggling a number of tasks, who will be flexible and work in a reactive way. A good way of testing this is by giving them a task on something you’re sure they know nothing about; you’ll get to see their raw ability to problem solve and adapt to new information.
You also want to look to test them on their engagement with the industry at large. Are they up on key developments and engaging with news, publications, blogs and podcasts? This is a great indication that you’ve got an enthusiastic learner. You hire graduates knowing that they’re unlikely to be the finished product, and their desire to learn is the big separator.
Now, time to get specific…
Content truly is king at the moment, with 77% of brands intending to increase their content marketing in 2016, and the biggest companies setting up whole studios to maximise their content.
What are you looking for in a graduate hire? It goes without saying you want an exemplary writer and you should absolutely have a task prepared to test their research ability, tone and flair. But you also need to test their ability to listen. Content marketing is all about talking to people in their own language, about things they’re interested in, in spaces that they actively engage with.
Ask your graduates to characterise your customers, or analyse what other competitors are doing badly or well. You’ll test both their ability to prepare and write to an audience, and their understanding of what works and doesn’t. Look for those already engaged with personal blogs, magazines and news too, and you get to assess them early on.
SEO & PPC
When it comes to search engine marketing, analytics is absolutely vital. People with backgrounds in data, science, maths and statistics will be great hires, with a natural aptitude for analytics and numbers.
Having said this, don’t be afraid to look for more creative souls. If you’re implementing a content-heavy SEO strategy for example, you might want to look for a writer who still has that analytical mind-set. You also need to find someone who can create clear, concise reports and communicate internally with ease.
Again, you need to look for research and understanding of the basic principles, but with an instinct for problem solving and all things analytical. These core soft skills may well be more important than deep understanding of the specifics which can be taught as you go along.
Web Development & Graphic Design
Not all companies will lump these skills together, but when looking for a graduate, you might want to consider someone capable of working across both areas. With the increasing importance of online and mobile, it’s worth considering hiring an entry-level member of staff who can work across teams.
You want someone who can help design creative for the content, PR or social media team, as well as working closely with the web and mobile team.
Look for a graduate with a broad portfolio and you’ll have someone who can work picking up all the jobs occupying too much of your lead designer’s time. They’ll also appreciate the varied work and opportunity to gain experience across a variety of fields.
Any digital team needs their engine room. The technical team keep everything on track and luckily many of today’s graduates are well versed in all things to do with code.
Solving problems and developing innovative code is a hugely important skill in digital marketing. As a result, it’s worth setting your potential recruits a few challenges, present them with a problem, and give them a timeline and you’ll learn a lot about both what they produce and how they work.
Identify the languages you need to prioritise and set a list of must-haves. Bear in mind whether extra languages will be necessary immediately or whether you can look for them to learn on the job.
Looking for a new addition to your social media team? You want someone that lives and breathes it.
Start with their own profiles and see if their tone is similar to what you want. Also, investigate their knowledge of emerging social media platforms; you want someone who is up on the latest trends and ready to adapt to whatever is thrown their way. They need to be a big consumer of news, and prepared to research and promote the best content in the most effective way possible.
Much the same as the addition to your content creation team, you need someone who is great at listening, so ask them to characterise the kind of people who you’re trying to reach out on social media.
Get them to analyse a competitor’s social media and ask them what they like and what they’d improve. This way you’ll get an insight not only into how they’d manage the page, but whether they understand the importance of your social media strategy. Are you converting leads, building your brand or simply trying to open up paths of communication to your existing customers? You need them to know!
Matt Arnerich is a content writer for the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, Inspiring Interns. Check out their website if you’re looking to hire a graduate, or on the search for internships and graduate jobs in London and beyond.