By Kate Whitney
Whether you’re at the beginning of your career, looking to enhance your current position, or switching gears, with careers in digital marketing projected to increase at a faster-than-average rate of 8% over the next eight years with a median salary of $132,620, digital marketing can offer the opportunity to leverage skills you’ve learned in school or on the job and apply them to a growing field with incredible earning potential.
Getting your foot in the door, however, requires some planning and consideration.
“A recent search on Indeed yielded over 88,000 marketing jobs in the United States, most of them in digital marketing or with a digital marketing component,” reports Digital Marketing Fundamentals career coach and recruiter Sue Schlom. “With such low unemployment, and so many opportunities, now is a great time to begin a career in Digital Marketing. But you have to be prepared—there is a lot of competition out there.”
“Nothing pleases me more than when we have a student who is really looking to jump start their career, they found a passion in digital marketing, and they want to enter the workforce somewhere,” said Erik Harbison, instructor for UVM’s top-ranked Digital Marketing Fundamentals Certificate. But when it comes to acquiring the skills for career success, Harbison discourages students from thinking about their “hire-ability,” but to instead focus on building on the transferable skills that can help you transition from one role to the next. “I like the term marketability,” Harbison said. “It isn’t just for your next job, it’s for your entire career.”
“So, for example,” Harbison continued. “If you’re in human resources and you want to move to digital marketing, an opportunity for you could be as an account executive at a digital marketing agency. There are a lot of transferable skills from dealing with individuals to dealing with complex organizational and communication issues. That’s not to say that an HR professional can’t be a paid search expert, you want to look at those transferable skills and at what’s the easiest transfer point for their investment in time to a new career in digital marketing.”
According to Harbison, the most in-demand skills needed for a career in digital marketing include:
- Data analysis – The process of using techniques and software to collect and understand information collected from online interactions of your target market
- Writing and editing – Connecting with your audience requires the ability to express what they want and what you offer and convincing them to take the desired action
- SEO/SEM – Adjusting on- and off-page factors to improve your pages ranking in search results
- Listening skills – The ability to hear customer needs and desires over creating and promoting content
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – The strategies you employ to monitor and maximize customer experience
- Social Media Strategy – You game plan to build brand awareness and loyalty using social media and how to manage, monitor, and measure the results
- Email marketing – The use of email to promote products and services
- Media marketing – Engaging customers with a variety of advertising mediums, including display, content, social media, and more
But Harbison insists that you don’t need to master every skill to land your dream job.
“The term is ‘T-shaped,’ and it’s meant to embrace the breadth of knowing multiple channels to the point of understanding how they operate,” Harbison said. “But then having a specialty, which is the vertical of the ‘T’—being an expert or a specialist in a specific channel. I think that design, that framework, for marketers today is what’s coveted by these companies that are looking to hire for these skill sets. But it’s also—if you’re an individual looking to get into this space—it is your way to future-proof your career. You don’t want to be ignorant and just focus on one channel and think that’s the only channel that matters. Successful digital marketers understand the integrated nature of how all these channels work together. This is a definite benefit of our program in terms of how we speak about every channel, but also how we speak to and ensure that everyone is seeing how well they integrate together. The successful digital marketers today understand that relationship.”
“At its core, any digital marketer is going to have two things,” Harbison continued. “A desire to understand data and an element of creativity. All the data, all the information exists so the barrier for entry is quite low. The question is, how do you decipher it and how do you embrace it and make it your own so that you can focus on the elements of understanding data and being creative with it? It’s somebody who’s going to want to think beyond, be curious, push the limits, and really find new ways to solve challenges.”