Apr 26, 2016

The 5-Step Formula to An Outstanding Digital Marketing CV

by Digital Marketing Institute

You’ve found the perfect digital marketing job opportunity. It’s an ideal match for your skills and interests, with an excellent salary and lots of room to advance. It’s even at a unique, interesting company with a culture and values you admire.

The only problem is your CV is years out of date and doesn’t accurately reflect your knowledge, skills and experience as a digital marketer. What can you do to make it stand out from the others and help you get the job?

The key is simple: sell yourself. When you stop thinking of your CV as a list of your past jobs or an inventory of every skill you have to offer and instead view it as your own personal sales pitch, you’ll go from “just another application” to the clear choice for almost any position.

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Below, we’ve also listed a simple and highly effective five-step formula that you can use to stand out from the crowd and market yourself to agencies, brands and other digital marketing employers.

Step 1: Create more than one CV

The key to getting the attention of recruiters and employers is to view each job opportunity from their perspective.

You view a job listing as an opportunity to find work, earn a salary and put your skills to use for a new employer. They view a job listing as an opportunity to fill a gap in their current team, solve a problem and achieve their goals as a business.

Put yourself in the shoes of your prospective employer. You’ve created a job listing for a digital marketing associate with the following key skills:

  • WordPress design/customization skills
  • Content marketing experience
  • Extensive understanding of SEO

You’ve received 200 applications, complete with CVs and cover letters. Most are generic CVs aimed at every digital marketing job available, with no mentions of the specific skills you need for your open position.

Of these 200 applications, five specifically discuss their WordPress, content marketing and SEO experience. One person even provides specific examples of how they’ve helped previous clients and employers with their SEO efforts as a freelancer, and later as part of an agency.

Which application are you most likely to respond to? Of the 200, most will be skimmed (typically for just over six seconds) and discarded, while the five that mention their key skills and the one that provides real, concrete examples will get special attention.

Your goal, as someone applying for a job, is to be the one applicant that’s such a perfect fit that you get all the attention. As Seth Godin says, your job is to be the Purple Cow -- the unique and interesting option that immediately stands out from the crowd.

Sending out a single generic CV to every employer is a great way to fit into the crowd, especially in an industry like digital marketing where specialization is everything.

Instead of creating one CV that’s a good enough fit for every job, create two, three or even five digital marketing CVs, each of which emphasizes a different aspect of your skillset:

  • One that focuses on your SEO knowledge
  • One that focuses on your content marketing experience
  • One that highlights your analytics skills
  • One that lists your CRO achievements

Understand the key skills that digital marketing employers seek and you’ll find it easier to create a specific, highly targeted CV for each opportunity you discover.

Specialization isn’t just something you should discuss in your cover letter. Take a laser focused approach to every CV you send and you’ll stand out as a the perfect fit for every job you apply for instead of blending into the crowd of unsuccessful applicants.

Step 2: Study your target audience

Winning a job isn’t just about demonstrating your skills and experience - it’s also about showing that you’re a great fit for the company you want to work for.

Before you send in your CV, take a few moments to study the company that you could work with if your application is successful.

Google them and look around their website. Study their core values and goals, if they’re publicly listed online. Use Glassdoor to view feedback from past and current employees and learn what it’s like to work for them. Learn as much as you can before you start to customize your CV.

While you’re studying the employer, make note of key points and values that differentiate them from other companies. Note their values and unique characteristics, especially if you think they could help you earn their attention as a prospective employee.

Study their competitors and gain an understanding of the market they operate in. Learn as much as you can as early as you can.

Most people leave the research phase of applying to a job for right before their first interview. If you study the employer before you even send in your CV, you’ll be able to stand out right when it counts: the moment they open your application and start reading about you.

Step 3: Create your value proposition

For a business, the goal of any hire is to create value. If you can clearly state the value you offer in your CV, you'll stand out as the best solution to solve specific problems, reach specific targets and achieve specific goals.

Two marketing concepts are key to communicating this value:

Most CVs have no value proposition and little or no differentiation. They list skills and past jobs as items in an inventory without ever explaining how these factors make the applicant unique or expressing any specific value.

Before you list your job experience or key skills, think of your value proposition. What unique or special value can you offer? What can you provide for the prospective employer that few or no other candidates can match?

Pretend that you’re an analytics expert applying for a new job at a conversion rate optimization agency. Of the two statements below, which is most likely to attract the employer’s attention and communicate your value?

  • “I’m an experienced analytics expert.”
  • “My analytics and optimization skills have helped my previous clients and employers increase sales by 30% or more and generate a 43% improvement in return on ad spend.”

Be specific, and never be afraid to make concrete statements that communicate how you’ve helped previous employers or clients. Your value proposition is a personal mission statement - use it to set yourself apart from the crowd and emphasize how you can help the employer.

Step 4: Demonstrate your enthusiasm

On average, more than 250 CVs are received for every corporate job opening. Fewer than two percent of applicants are interviewed. As a job seeker, the numbers are very much against you, and enthusiasm is the key to turning the odds in your favor.

Studies show that most applicants spend about 80 seconds reading a job posting before they send in their CV. The results are predictable:

  • Employers receive a huge amount of CV spam, especially from applicants that aren’t a good fit for the position.
  • Since most applicants only skim the details of each job and don’t customize their CV or cover letter, only a select few are worth considering.
  • Many of the applicants that are a good match on paper don’t seem enthusiastic about the job, and seem to view it as just another opportunity.

You can avoid problem one by studying the employer, as we explained in step two. Problem two is avoided by customizing your CV, as we recommended in step one, and by having a clear and specific value proposition, as we recommended in step three.

Avoid problem three by being genuinely enthusiastic about the job opening and expressing this enthusiasm in your cover letter.

Talk about their goals and how you can help them achieve them. Mention their past successes and noteworthy events. Make it as clear as possible that you’re not just familiar with them, but that you’re a natural fit with real enthusiasm about doing the best job possible.

When an employer compares three seemingly equal candidates, enthusiasm is what gets you noticed. Demonstrate your interest and energy and you’ll stand out as the candidate that has a clear motivation to help the employer achieve their goals.

Step 5: Before you send anything, proofread

It only takes a single typo to ruin your CV and destroy your chances of earning the job. Before you send anything to anyone, proofread it thoroughly and double check that you haven’t made any spelling or grammatical errors.

Data from executive surveys shows that 76% of recruiters and HR staff will remove an applicant from consideration if their CV has one or two typos. 40% of the executives surveyed said that a single typo or error is all it takes for a job application to end up in the waste disposal bin.

In the digital marketing world, communication is key. Imagine if you delivered a page of copy to an important client with numerous typos. Or if you launched an advertising campaign with major grammatical errors in the creative.

Making a small spelling or grammatical error every now and then in emails or internal messages is forgivable. However, your CV is an important document that markets your personal brand. If it has typos and grammatical errors, it sends a very bad message to your prospective employer.

Before you send anything to anyone, proofread. Take a short break after writing your CV to clear your mind and get out of “work” mode, then return to it and double check for spelling or grammar errors. Only when you’re totally confident should you submit it to the recruiter or employer.

Does your CV help you stand out from the pack?

The digital marketing industry is fiercely competitive, and standing out with an engaging CV is one of the best ways to get noticed as a job seeker. Does your CV help you stand out from the pack and appeal to employers, or does it make you just another applicant?

If you’re searching for a digital marketing job and haven’t had any success, use the five steps above to rewrite, improve and optimize your CV. With the right value proposition, experience, skills and marketing savvy, you could earn the attention of an incredible employer.

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