Tips to create a Digital Marketing CV that stands out
August 31, 2022
You may have seen that we recently advertised a vacancy for a Junior Content Executive to join our team. After reviewing an incredibly high volume of CVs, the process really got us thinking about what makes a good CV to gain an entry-level position in a digital marketing role.
Digital marketing is a continuously evolving field, one in which the talent pool can often far outweigh the supply of jobs available. This means that when it comes to applying for a job in this highly desired industry, there are likely many, many others in the same position as you who are also applying.
Your CV is your first foot in the door, so it’s important to make a good first impression that will get you noticed for all the right reasons. This has led us to share our top tips to create a CV that will help you land your first role in digital marketing.
1 – Is Digital Marketing right for you?
First of all, we’d encourage you to consider whether this is the right field for you. This is a field that is ever-changing, with new developments, technologies and strategies emerging on a very frequent basis. This means it’s important to stay abreast of any changes, research and learn constantly. At times, it can feel like you’ve just nailed one thing before it changes and you have to learn it all over again. If you’re highly adaptable and thrive on challenges, then it’s likely you’ll be suited to the industry.
Next, it’s important to understand whether working at an agency or in-house would be best for you. At an agency, you’ll be working with several different clients, managing a very varied workload and likely focusing on one channel. In-house enables you to be more broad in your role, as it is often the case that you would manage various channels and responsibilities. To learn more about the differences between agency and in-house roles, take a look at a blog we wrote about moving from client-side to agency.
There are many different areas of digital marketing to consider, see below for a non-exhaustive list of possible areas you could pursue:
- Paid Search Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Creative Design
- Technical SEO
- Content Marketing
- Digital PR
- Social Media Marketing
- Ecommerce Strategy & UX
Before applying, research some of the marketing disciplines that interest you and then consider them alongside the environment you’d like to learn and apply them in, whether that’s in-house or agency side.
2 – Plan your application first
As mentioned above, research is a highly important skill for any digital marketing position and so you have the opportunity to demonstrate this skill within your application. Spend some time researching the channel / area of digital marketing that the job you’re applying for is in, there is a wealth of information out there for you to discover.
Not only should you research the job role, but you should also carry out some research on the employer. This is so you’re able to really accurately describe why it is you want this job in particular. As you carry out this research, make some notes of keywords you could add to your application to make the employer aware that you have well-researched the role.
It’s also a good idea to amend your CV so that it is tailored to each individual role that you’re applying for. This may seem like a time-consuming annoyance, but it is one that can make all the difference. An employer wants to be sure that the job is right for you, so show them exactly why it is.
3 – Read the job description thoroughly
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by the amount of job applications that we receive that focus on elements of digital marketing that aren’t in the job description at all. According to an article by LinkedIn, the average person spends just 14 seconds reading a job description to decide whether or not to apply. We recommend spending far longer than this to ensure your application is as relevant to the role as possible.
We completely understand the desire to break into the industry, but if you have your heart set on landing a job within a particular area of the field, then it’s best to stick it out and wait for an opportunity to become available than to apply for just any digital marketing position within any company or agency.
Of course at Venture Stream, we like to remain flexible, so that if you come to join our team in one role, you’re by no means stuck in that role – we like to see where your skillset gravitates based on the work that you enjoy. However, many jobs are advertised to fill a gap, and so if you’re wanting to adapt and change roles fairly quickly, then you may be better off finding a role that meets your desires in the first instance.
If the role you’re applying for does match your desired area, then ensure you tailor your application to the job description. Highlight how you’re able to meet the skills listed within the role.
4 – Keep your CV brief
As a hiring manager, there is nothing more tedious than being faced with a white page containing walls upon walls of small black text. Chances are, if it’s too long, then your CV will be skim-read and pushed to the bottom of the pile. A good rule of thumb is to ensure your CV is no more than two pages long. If you need to utilise the full two pages, then ensure you lay out the information in an engaging, easy-to-read format. Free tools like Canva can help with this.
Structure it appropriately, so that the most relevant and eye-catching information is the first thing the hiring manager will see. Avoid including too much detail, there’s no need to list out everything thoroughly. For example, if you went on to do a degree or masters, then for your education section when including things like GCSE’s, you can save space by writing ‘8 GCSE’s grade A-C’, rather than listing the individual subjects. When it comes to any further education however, it’s important to list this as it may be relevant to the role. By using a smaller portion of space for the little details, you have more room to expand upon the most relevant skills and experience that you have.
Another important tip is to make the CV readable and easy-to-digest. Break up the information with headings, key sections, bullet points and a skimmable structure that enables the employer to quickly decipher your skills and experience without having to read weighty paragraphs.
A simple yet effective structure is:
- A one-sentence, introductory summary about the kind of role you desire (and tailor this to the position you are applying for!)
- List of relevant experience – if you have part time work that is outside the field you’re applying for, it’s best to list this minimally
- Education and background
- List of skills and any platforms/programs that you are able to use as well as your proficiency in them – consider relevance to the position you are applying for
- Any key accolades or achievements
- A personal touch, such as a small list of hobbies or interests and perhaps a picture if you feel appropriate
5 – Get creative with your CV
If you feel it is appropriate for the role you’re applying for, then don’t be afraid to get a little creative with your CV. A CV that incorporates colour, eye-catching fonts and an effective design can help employer’s to remember your application. All too often, we’re met with the standard CV template offered by Indeed. A CV that is different to the rest may just make you stand out to the employer.
However, we also recommend that you don’t go overboard. Make sure the information is clear and concise, without cluttering the page or making it too ‘noisy’ for the details to be digested. Also, be mindful that employers may want to print your CV – and so using coloured backgrounds etc. can not always be suitable.
6 – Avoid exaggerating your experience
This tip particularly applies to those seeking an entry-level role. Employers will consider your level of experience, and if it appears too extensive, this may actually be off-putting as employers may be wrongly concerned that you wouldn’t truly be fulfilled in a role which appears more junior than the one you already have. Be completely honest about your amount of experience. For example, if you’ve run your own blog for 3 years, detail this out, rather than keeping it vague such as ‘3 years of copywriting experience’. This ensures that the employer can see specifically what your experience is and how well it can transfer to the role.
If you have got a wealth of experience but are looking for a change of role or would be happier with what appears by title to be a more junior position, then use your cover letter to explain more about this to the employer. For example, you may be in a senior role, but in a very small team, or feeling isolated on your own which is hindering your development. If you explain this, it helps answer the question in the employer’s mind about why you want what could appear to be a bit of a step-change.
7 – Pay attention to detail
Before sending off your application, be sure to check it, more than once. Look for any missing punctuation, missing words, spelling mistakes, typos or errors. Attention to detail is a skill required for just about any job, so demonstrating this by having your application as neat and refined as possible is key. Make use of the spell check tool and make sure you run this after each edit you make. If you’ve spent a lot of time on an application, if time allows, then it’s a good idea to step away from it for at least a few hours and then go back through it with a fresh pair of eyes before sending. Or, send it to someone else for a second look / opinion.
Another small bugbear of potential employers can be vague CV file names. In order to stand out, make sure to name the file of your CV appropriately, for example ‘First Name – Surname – Available Position – CV’ and follow the same format for the cover letter. This makes the employer’s life a lot easier when it comes to finding your CV in their file explorer and shows that you’ve made the effort for that specific job.
8 – Write a cover letter
The final, and in our opinion, the most important part of any job application is the cover letter. We strongly feel that every job application should have a cover letter that is unique and tailored to the position that you’re applying for. This demonstrates conscientiousness, as well as shows how much you want this job in particular.
The cover letter is where you can make the most difference in comparison to your fellow applicants. If someone has the same experience and educational background as you, then your cover letter may be just the thing that sways the employer’s decision.
A cover letter is also the perfect opportunity to expand on anything that the employer may question in your CV. For example, if the experience on your CV isn’t entirely relevant to the job role, it’s important to explain why you wish to make a career change and why this particular position appeals, as well as how your skills can be transferred. The same can be said for any gaps in your CV, or any particularly short periods of employment – use the cover letter to explain why this is the case.
The job application process is also very much a two-way street, so don’t be afraid to write in the cover letter what you hope to get from the job. This is especially important if you already have a similar role, within a similar company. Be sure to explain what is and isn’t working for you in your current role and what you seek from the new employer in order to improve this. This helps the employer to understand how well you will fit within the role. Even if this information leads the employer to feel that you’re not suitable for the position, this is a worthwhile exercise as it can help to ensure that you don’t land in a role that isn’t going to fulfill you for the same reasons.
9 – If you make it to the interview stage, then ask lots of questions
As mentioned above, the job application process is not just for the employer to assess you. It is also the time for you to find out whether the job is actually the right fit for you. The best way to do this if you reach the interview stage is to make sure to ask lots and lots of questions. In our opinion, you can’t ask too many questions, particularly about the role itself. This shows your interest clearly and lets the employer know that you have the initiative to check you’ll be satisfied with the job too. Here are some examples of questions we’d recommend asking:
- What would be the highs and lows of this role?
- What would be my key responsibilities?
- What are your ambitions as a department / company?
- How would you describe your management style?
- How would you describe the team dynamic?
- Where would my role sit within the team?
- Who would I report to?
- Will I receive training? – How regularly and on what topics?
- Is this a new role or is this to replace an existing team member?
- Is there room for progression in time with this role?
- What would you expect of me in the first, second and third months?
- Can you describe the working culture of your company?
- What are your favourite things about your job / working here?
- What career path did you follow to get to where you are?
- What are the particular pain points that have led you to hire for this role? (If it is a new role)
- Can you give me any examples of tasks/projects I’d be working on?
- What skills are necessary to make a real success of this position?
- How does this role contribute to the company overall?
These are just a few examples. There are many more questions that could be asked, so make sure you use the time you have in the interview wisely by asking plenty about the things that would matter to you most.
10) Take notes with you
Another tip should you make it to the interview stage, is to take some notes of any key information you want to get across. Employers don’t expect you to have everything memorised and as a job interview is a nerve-wracking experience for many, having notes on hand to keep you focused is absolutely fine. Make notes of any questions you’d like to ask, as well as any key points you want to elaborate on from your CV and the skills you want to showcase.
Tips from the Venture Stream team
In addition to our top seven tips for creating a stand-out digital marketing CV, we also asked some of our team members to share the things they put in a CV to get them noticed.
“I know it’s not for everyone, but I think including a picture in your CV can be a really nice touch. It can help to break up all the heavy text. Formatting it nicely by using some colour and different fonts for headers is also a good way to make it stand out.” Eliza Fielding – SEO & Content Executive
“’It may seem obvious, but many forget – use spell check on everything before you send. If you make any edits, spell check again. Attention to detail is important.” Ruth Ayling – Senior Creative Designer
“Within your cover letter, it can be useful to take the opportunity to add narrative to your CV – particularly if anything on there could be open to interpretation. Essentially the cover letter can be a chance for the reviewer to get to know you better and how you came to apply for the role.” Jade Brodie, Marketing Director
“List software and tools that you’re proficient in (Tag Manager, SEM Rush, etc.), as this can be insightful to an interviewer. To add more value, you could also enclose testimonials from clients to reflect your results, if you have past experience.” Olly Shiach – Senior Paid Search Consultant
“Networking can be intimidating for newcomers to the industry, but employers don’t expect the world – any level of interest and activity you can show will make a difference. When you’re looking for jobs, I’d try to follow and interact with companies you’re interested in working for on LinkedIn – any knowledge you gain from that can be easily included in CVs, cover letters and interviews to help you stand out from the crowd!” Helen Scott, Content Executive
Hopefully this blog has been useful to help you form an application to land your first job in the industry. Interested in a career at Venture Stream? Check out our vacancies page, as we regularly add new roles here!