This is an article by Sophie Chadwick.
In February 2016, the digital sector in the United Kingdom grew 32% faster than the wider economy.
For graduates with the right skills and a will to succeed, this means there’s more opportunity than ever before to start a career in this rapidly developing sector.
Clearly, the opportunities are there for aspiring digital professionals who want to be part of this innovative industry. In particular, those sentiments ring true within app or software development, which are the two fastest-growing niches – or in cities such as Leeds, Newcastle and Sunderland, which saw the largest increases in digital salaries.
You might be in the middle of studying for a qualification in public relations, advertising or copywriting. That’s great, but now, in the increasingly integrated digital age, a strong knowledge of what ties all of these things together is important for your career progression.
You must have a good understanding of social media, how traditional and digital media fits into our daily lives and how search engine optimisation (SEO) can help you achieve results. These are crucial to your success in the digital sector.
Here are the main attributes that digital recruiters look for:
It’s no good to simply make assumptions anymore. The rise of ’big data’, where information can be segmented and analysed thoroughly in order to improve creative output, means you must have facts and statistics to back up everything you do in a digital environment.
Young professionals must be willing to delve deeper than simply assuming that what they think will work. They must discover what will actually work. They must demonstrate that they understand how to proactively make improvements to integrated campaigns.
This means that professionals – copywriters, for instance – who were once required to show creative flair and just write words, are now required to display more intuition. Writers must be in tune with the performance of their work and must provide ongoing analysis over monthly or yearly periods.
The rise of digital and its integration into everyday life now means that many employers are looking for more than people who simply work the 9-5 and leave work at their desks when they go home.
Professionals must be more switched on. They must think about how digital fits into the wider ecosystem, how their work (whatever their specialism) sits within the wider sphere of marketing and how it affects their audience.
Professionals must be hungry to learn and pick up new trends. Self-motivation is key here, as is a desire to self-educate and a willingness to look for new opportunities, figure out how to solve problems and constantly improve.
Digital is moving quicker than a Japanese bullet train. Professionals, therefore, need to prepare for these increasingly regular changes if they want to keep up and for new career opportunities to present themselves.
Adaptability is about being open to change and keeping up to date with evolving trends in your specialism, whether that’s new social media platforms, algorithm updates, or improved strategies that would provide better results.
Digital is all about communications – so from blogs to social media posts, paid adverts or press releases, you need to be able to communicate your message(s) concisely and clearly. For that reason, strong grammar is a must.
There’s more though: communication is not limited to the written word. Digital professionals must be able to verbally communicate what they mean to an audience. They must be able to do so persuasively and factually, whether that means standing up in front of them or in front of clients and presenting their ideas and strategy.
Naturally, today’s graduating students – yourself included – will be proficient with different devices, the internet and social media. And, if you’re all flooding the job market with your own personal experience of being connected 24/7, how do you demonstrate that you’re a cut above your contemporaries who have had the very same experience?
It might seem like a tough proposition, but there are ways to do so.
It’s 2016, so it’s a given that we’ve all used social media – unless you’ve been living under a rock that is. But, in addition to googling things and sending the odd tweet, graduates should develop more skills to help them in the digital jobs market.
First and foremost, it’s important to learn about Google Analytics and how Google’s algorithm works in regards to online visibility – this might sound very technical, but plenty of PR jobs now require professionals to have good knowledge of SEO and in some cases, it is entirely defining PR roles.
It’s also in your interest to learn about Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics and to pick up some working knowledge of scheduling platforms such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.
Because digital, at its core, is a creative sector, a resourceful brain and a vibrant imagination is a must – whether that’s for ideas-generation or figuring out different ways to tap into the target audience.
Learning how to use Adobe Creative Suite programmes like Photoshop and Illustrator also sets graduates apart. The latter, in essence, is what it boils down to: displaying your very own USPs and selling yourself as best you can. It’s then about growing and learning as much as possible in a role to forge your own digital career.
Sophie Chadwick is an Account Director at Peppermint Soda
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