Many college students approach us looking for advice on what they can do to make themselves more marketable to future employers as well as new grads approaching us to get their first job. This is the advice we give them, and in many instances we wish they had known when embarking on their college career.
College is about learning and preparing for your future (as much as it is going to parties and enjoying yourself).
When you graduate and you’re looking to land your first job, doing any of the below things to put on your resume will impress interviewers and help you stand out among the crowd.
You’re a fool if you don’t do these things
- Learn Social Media Marketing
A lot of companies don’t understand social media and need serious help in that arena. They assume that younger people understand this more – take advantage of that. There are plenty of resources online and blogs giving information. Read through them to understand the basics, then put together a campaign of your own to troll your roommate.
- Join LinkedIn
I know, it’s a really “unfun” social network, but it’s actually an invaluable networking tool. Many employers and job seekers use this tool, and once you have a job it’s a great way to connect with others in your industry. Even as a student you can start building up your network with your friends and family; showing a future employer that even right out of college you have a network of 100+ will be a step above someone applying for the same job that doesn’t.You can also join groups in the marketing field (or other fields) that you find interesting. Follow the conversations to give you insight in to real-world marketing. When looking for a job it will impress companies when you tell them that you’ve been active on LinkedIn and have followed and participated in X groups. This shows initiative and an understanding of how “the real world” works.
- Learn Search Marketing.
So maybe we’re a bit biased as we’re a digital agency, but search marketing is an easy thing to learn and hard to master. It involves placing ads in search engine results pages as well as display ads throughout the web. Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on these ads and need someone to manage that. Google offers free courses on how to do this and has a certification for AdWords. Take the training and become certified. In addition, learn Analytics, Google also provides training and a certification for this.
- Join Twitter
Honestly, you’re probably already on it, but you’ll be surprised by how many professionals use Twitter to share content and follow top industry professionals. Feel free to set-up a separate handle to keep your professional and regular identities different.
- Build a website for yourself
Use it as a way to tell future employers why you rock and what makes you stand out from others. Showing that simple initiative will make you stand out above 99% of your competition. You can use a site like weebly to create one very cheap. Check out Hirejosh.com for inspiration. (And yes, at one point I did hire Josh, so it works!)
This shows a bit more effort
- Get a subscription to Lynda.com
Lynda is a great way to learn nearly everything. If you want to learn some HTML – Lynda.com. Social Media Marketing – Lynda.com. Photography, Design, Animation – Lynda.com. Learn as many of the marketing programs you can on there. Don’t just take the fun classes though, a lot of companies use Marketing software like Hubspot, Pardot, Marketo and others – learn those and truly impress hiring managers.
Not only try and get internships, but try and learn as much as possible from them. Don’t just get one with a marketing firm that has you sit in a room staring at the wall (I had one of those) but rather one where you’ll be hands on and doing real work. It may be grunt-work (like stuffing 20,000 envelopes, yep – I did that) but it will teach you a lot and be extremely valuable when looking for future employment. Well, that, and somebody’s gotta do it, and it’s usually the intern.
You’ll really WOW them if you do these
- Join an Industry Group
Many groups like the AAF, PRSA, and the AMA have student discounts. Join one of these groups and become active with it, go to events and meet people. I usually see one or two students at these events, and for some reason they always seem to get internships and great jobs, there must be some connection there.
- Go to Conferences & watch Webinars
Many companies put on free webinars to educate people on different parts of marketing. Watch them. You can just do a search for them online and join some email lists to learn when new ones are coming up. In terms of conferences, if there are any in your city, see if they have free passes or discounts for students. Go to them and talk to people, get on their radar. Putting down that you went to AdWeek or SMX can help you stand out in a crowd – plus you might meet someone there that is looking for interns or knows someone who is. (Networking at its finest)
- Volunteer with a Charity
Help them out with their marketing; charities are usually looking for cheap or free labor. This is a great way to learn on the job – make sure that you aren’t the only one there doing their marketing, you need to work with a charity that has someone already doing the marketing that you can work alongside and learn from.
At the end of the day don’t forget you’re only young once and as soon as you get a “real job” it’s much more difficult to go back and do a cross country trip or travel Europe. So don’t forget to take some time for yourself to enjoy life.