How to Prepare For A Career in Digital Marketing – Erik Harbison

Hey guys! This is Joseph welcoming you to
another Stukent Expert Session. In this Expert Session, we are going to hear from
Erik Harbison. Erik is the lead instructor for GenM School; an exclusive
course designed to get early-stage marketers ready for their first
marketing job and a successful career. Erik has been coaching and mentoring
marketers in leadership and contributor roles over his 25-year career with
positions at award-winning digital agencies, tech startups, and a B2B
software company. He continues to be an active supporter
for marketers at all levels. He’s also an instructor for various
digital marketing courses including both in-class and online environments where
he has handcrafted curricula which are focused on developing a personal brand
and hands-on learning of integrated digital marketing channels and
disciplines. Over his career, Erik has amassed a well-developed active network with leading agencies, brand, ad tech, marketing tech, startup, entrepreneurial,
and academic communities; and continues to connect many
early-stage marketers and career switchers with their next marketing career opportunity. We’re excited to hear from you, Erik!
Take it away! All right, great, thanks for
the introduction. My name is Erik Harbison and my mission throughout my career
has always been to help marketers navigate their career journey no matter
what level they’re at. So, I’m excited today talk about
some thoughts and ideas
on how to help you prepare for your career in digital marketing. So let’s get
started. First, I want to set some context by just dispelling or identifying the difference
between a marketing career and a marketing job. I think a lot of
especially early-stage marketers start getting confused by thinking the job
that they take is going to define their career and just this illustration helps
to showcase that your digital marketing career is something that’s long-term
and it’s something that should be set on certain goals versus your marketing jobs
which are basically the building blocks on how you achieve your career goal. So just remember that the jobs that you take throughout your your digital
marketing career are meant to help you achieve that goal and not one job that
you have defines what your career will end up being. Now, I like to start
with this statement that is something shared by Stephen Covey through “7 Habits
of Highly Effective People,” a great book to read if you’re just
getting started in any career really, but it’s especially important for the context of digital
marketing because beginning with the end in mind especially for your career is so
important because it helps to keep you focused, it’s actually gonna limit your
risk and reduce your risk of getting into a job that you don’t like or into a
job that isn’t going to provide you any long-term value, and it’s going to give
you the clarity that you need to get started before before you start to
expend any energies or effort in a job search or start working your network. So,
it’s important just to remember beginning with the end of mine as it
relates to your career. Now, apply that to what I’ll call
a digital marketing career plan and you can start to see how it starts to make sense if you start
with you begin with the end in mind, and identify: What is your career goal? Where do you want to be in three to five years? And if you can identify that you want to
be digital marketing director at a certain company, or you want to be the
head of a marketing team, or you want to have your own company,
whatever that goal is, establish that now so that you canstart with the second step which is: Take inventory of where you are, identify where you are with
experiences that you have, people that are in your network. And then the next step is to establish,
within one to two years, some milestones or some goals that you can
hit that’s going to help you get to your eventual goal, your three-five-year goal
of leaving that marketing team, starting your own company, etc. So today we’re
going to go deeper into certain frameworks that you can use and
exercises you can do to establish your own career marketing plan. Now, for some context
on the digital marketing landscape, McKinley Marketing Partners
puts out this annual report about marketing roles and recently it
discovered in a most recent report that, you know, almost 2/3 of all companies are
planning to add a digital marketing role in 2019. Good news. Skill set for digital marketing’s in demand. However, you need to keep
in mind that, if it’s in demand, that means that the
the competition is going to be fierce, so how are you gonna set yourself apart and
things will learn today will help you do that. Secondly, you think about the jobs that exists. Okay, so you want to find your
first job. Know that when you do a job search in LinkedIn or Career Builder or
Glass Door, the jobs you see there represent about 20 percent of the roles
that are available. That means there’s an abundance of opportunities that exists that aren’t necessarily found
in a job search board. So, we’ll talk about ways
you can actually explore other opportunities to find those 80% of the
jobs that are not listed. So, you know, at a high level. What’s the challenge for
marketers? It sounds like where, it feels like, you
know, you talk to any company today and they’re willing to hire anybody who
knows how to set up an Instagram Story. However, that’s not the case because, you
know, based on conversations that I’ve had in the teaching roles that I’ve
had in the marketing leadership roles that I’ve had, there are
some true challenges that do exist. And when you think about them, you know, some
of them are, you know, just identifying, you know, the uncertainty that exists
with marketers today. “I don’t know what I want to do when
I grow up,” is kind of a statement that we always hear or challenge people to
answer, but take about a step further and think about what do you want to do in
marketing when you get establishing your career. A lot of people don’t know that
yet, so if you have uncertainty then you’re not really gonna be driven to do
much and you’re just gonna kind of live in this… you’re just gonna be stuck. So, today, we’re going to talk about ways to identify that challenge, but also there’s
this challenge of the old catch-22. I wish I could hire you but I wish you had
more experience. Well. I need to get experience but
I need to get a job in
order to get the experience. So, this catch-22 is especially important
for digital marketing because it’s hard to get your first shot at a job,
oftentimes internships, or that entry-level job always looking for
experience that you know it’s hard trying to find how to get that
experience. So, we’re going to tackle that today as well. So, the solution I want to
cover today just is three simple parts of a framework that’s
gonna help you get ready in preparing for your digital marketing career
focusing on you, focusing on how to get motivated, and then focusing on how to
market yourself. Now this this three-step solution or framework is going to give you the clarity you need, it’s gonna identify how you can get job ready, it’s
going to give you clarity on a path so that you can develop a true digital
marketing career plan, and there’s going to be some suggestions on how to debunk
that myth of the catch-22 of “how do you get experience without a job?” So, remember
from the beginning you talked about beginning with the end in mind and, in
the context of a digital marketing career, let’s do this: let’s start from
the inside out. It’s why the first part of this framework is focusing on you and by doing that take inventory where you are and that’s going to help you
identify not just what your 3-to-5 year goal could be, but what sorts of
things you need to look at along the way. So. when I talk about me it’s really
about taking inventory of yourself and there’s three areas I want us to focus
on today: one is gonna be your career profile, one is going to be about, what I
call, the Personal Brand Pillars, and then the other is gonna be about what you can
do to quickly set some actionable goals for yourself. Now, the career profile
again based off of conversations and, just, experiencing marketing careers for
25 years, your career profile’s really influenced by two main points that
intersect. And there’s always that famous saying if it’s not what you know it’s who you know, well, I like to believe that for your digital marketing career, it’s
about both. It’s about what you know. It’s about who you know. So under the
experience side this is really focusing in on what you know, what are your
experiences and education inputs and influences. And then in terms of who you
know, it really focuses on your network: who do you know from previous jobs, from
college, from your family connections, from clients or vendors that you’ve had,
alumni groups and associations? If you think about it, there’s a lot of
influence that exists in these two ecosystems that, when
that when they converge and overlap, that basically is you. That is the you that
you present as part of your digital marketing career. Think about it. So, at
the intersection it’s, let’s say you got a certification from HubSpot or Google.
That’s great, but how did you apply that? Well, you apply that because you had a
chance to do it at an internship or for your friend’s pizza place. So, that’s a
true experience that you take into that intersection there which is what shows
up on your resume. It’s what influences the person that gives the
interview, like how do you perform in that interview. It also influences how do
you carry yourself in a networking situation. So the “what” experience that’s an
example of that. When it comes to the “who” from your network you know think of that professor or that old boss you had. The person that inspired you to go pick up that book, to read that book “Start with Why” or read that book “Linchpin.” Those books that kind of gave you some
influence and ideas on maybe how to handle yourself differently or how to look for other things, you know. So that inspired you on how to be ready for, again,
the intersection of presenting yourself. So, it prepared you for, maybe, answering that question in the
interview about, you know, why should we hire you. So, as you can tell, there’s
eight elements that are impacting this entire profile that I think is important
that you take inventory of understanding what exists today that you have in all
these different elements. So take time after this presentation, maybe this week,
document the eight elements, you know, list out exactly all the things you know
that fall within each of these categories. Because what will help do is
identify maybe some gaps that you have meaning you don’t have any
certifications, or maybe you know what I probably should reach out to my Alumni Association because I know they have a pretty active network. So, take those steps. Again, it’s kind of an easy first step on
taking inventory for yourself. Now one way to apply your career profile
and kind of gut check your “what you know”
and “who you know” is to start having some exploratory conversations.
Now, they don’t need to be in person, they can be virtual, they can be phone calls. But are there
three people that you can contact that can help? Three people you got contact to do a couple things? One is start getting
feedback on your your LinkedIn profile, your resume. Start getting feedback on
your career trajectory, maybe you start talking about what you think you want to
do. Maybe there’s someone that can help you set your goals, but who those three
people you can talk to for those things? Now, it’s important to do this because two things going to happen when you have these conversations. You’re gonna start developing your network. People gonna start remembering
their conversation and you’re gonna get on their radar for when
opportunities come up in the future. It gives you an opportunity
also to start identifying new points of inspiration because the more people you
talk to the more chances you have of getting the new idea around a book, an
app, a podcast, some inspirational resource that’s gonna help push you in another direction and help you navigate your digital marketing career plan. Now, how do you have these conversations? What do you talk about? Well, I’ve included in
here a couple of questions that could be part of conversation starters or part of
the conversation, again, looking for feedback, insights on you your, your
footprint, but maybe it’s an opportunity for you to get experience. Maybe there’s
a friend that has a website, a church. Somebody local that has something
that you can provide some help on to get those hands-on experience opportunities.
Second part of me is about to take an inventory. Sorry, second part about taking inventory and looking at yourself here
as part of this framework is your brand pillars. Now, this all starts by googling your name:
when’s the last time you did it and what did you see? Did you like it? Did anything show up? Maybe it’s a blog post you had done, it’s
pictures from a conference. You know, the good news is here that, you can take
control and establishing a deeper presence of what shows up when someone
searches your name. And it’s important because it’s probably the first place a
hiring manager is going to go when they get access to your name, your resume, or
your LinkedIn profile. They’re gonna start googling your name so get ahead of
it and see what shows up because here’s one thing to note. Research done by
LinkedIn shows that 3/4 of all hiring managers are gonna want to look at
your profile to take a look to see where have you been, what have you done, maybe
see that there’s more examples you can give about your experience, but you gotta make sure you have a LinkedIn profile
but also, are you putting your best foot forward what
you have on on that page? Because if you still have that background behind your
headshot of the default, you know, blue screen of connected dots, it’s time to upgrade.
Maybe think about choosing a picture that represents your hobbies,
more about your personality, you know, definitely use an image for that that
real estate, do not use the default. So when it comes to brand pillars there’s really
three main brand pillars you should be considerate about. If you’re thinking about a career in social media or something like that, maybe an Instagram
profile or YouTube channel, you want to have those fleshed out as well.
But by and large, the three main pillars you want to have ready to go your resume,
your LinkedIn profile, and a personal website. These are, kind of, must-haves
when it comes to presenting yourself into the digital marketing landscape.
Now, I’ve given links to some some tools and resources that can help you shape or
improve or even establish one of these three things that you may or may not
have established yet but they are critical. Now, when it comes to what do
you do or how do you improve these brand pillars, you know, a couple do’s and
don’ts here, right? When it comes to the do’s, right. You should be
summarizing accomplishments on all three of these pillars but do not copy and
paste the same stuff from one to the other to the other. Each vehicle serves
its own purpose. So, think about the resume is a key place to summarize your
key accomplishments on things you’ve done in roles that you’ve had. Your
LinkedIn profile is a great place to, kind of, elaborate more about what you’ve
done, bring in some testimonials, capture some endorsements from a professor,
someone you’ve worked with, you know, someone that you that may be able to
give you that testimony on your profile, but also take advantage of the
opportunity to include media-like links to a project you had done in your senior
year or links to a blog article you’ve written. Definitely take advantage of
that landscape inside of LinkedIn. Third, your personal brand site. These are so
easy to set up now and, when I say easy, I mean, you know, just include the material
that matters but also the value someone can get from setting up a
personal brand website to use as a testing bed for understanding Google
Analytics, email marketing funnels, that is invaluable and will position you well
when it comes to an interview question about how you executed what you learned
through your certifications. So, definitely keep that in mind the do’s and don’ts when it comes to your brand pillars. Lastly for the Me section on taking inventory is
starting with goal setting. And it’s simple as the illustration we looked at
in the beginning its start by identifying, “what’s the marketing role
that you want?” And it could be three years, could be two years. By what time in the future you want to have what role or which role?
Is it a marketing director, start your own company, work for a start-up? Identify
something and start somewhere. Then, by identifying two time increments
of setting some micro goals for yourself, you start to feel that you’re
accomplishing things by checking off these quick hit little projects you can
do to get you to that initial goal set. So, I like to think of it as what can you
do in the next three weeks. So, have some urgency around what you can do, but
then what can you do in the next three months? So maybe the longer-term projects like setting up your website or networking
with certain associations or groups in your area. Start to define what these
things are because you’ll then give yourself a good starting point on
where you can start putting your effort towards your digital marketing career. So,
the second part is about motivation when it comes to the framework and the only
reason I speak about motivation is we all need it because it helps us to stay
focused. Now prioritizing our focus can actually help us think clearly
about how we want to, kind of, execute our energies and our efforts but when you
can think clearly you’re actually able to make better decisions and you’re
making informed decisions and you’re wasting or eliminating any risk to wasted time
and effort. So, the one exercise that I think is interesting when it
comes to prioritization is specific to your career is around the career factors.
Now, I share this based off of, you know, kind of, being in it for 25 years,
talking to other hiring managers for marketing roles, I
started to identify some trends when I started to see team members join a
company or leave a company. Usually the themes that were coming true were
these six things. So, it makes sense if you’re going to be starting your career to started prioritizing these six things right now. Which of these are most important to you?
Rank these from one to six and you think about it, you know,
there are certain influences tied to your career and tied to marketing roles and companies that
you will look for. And just quickly, just to summarize, you know,
company or title, you know,
if you’re just starting out title’s probably not important to you but
some people that have been managers for a while may have a director level or a
higher level as a focus for them.
Is that important to you? When it comes to a company, is a certain type of company like an agency or a software company? Or is a certain characteristic of a company like a non-profit or a company that’s mission driven?
Define what that is for the company and then where does that factor
in your ranking. Location. Is it a remote only role you’re looking for? Is it based
on a geographic location? Are you moving to a certain city? This will help you
only look for companies that may be hiring in those certain contexts so,
location is key. If you’re looking for a remote-only role
then location would probably be your number-one priority. Salary. Again, money
matters at certain levels but if you’re just getting started,
challenge is probably more interesting than salary, not that you’re looking at
work for free but you’re starting looking to be compensated. But salary can
be number one or two if it’s somebody who desperately needs the finances.
Maybe have a life situation going on, but but salary is definitely something that
could be a factor as you start to grow your career. Challenge, the most important,
probably the most popular for those that are early stage marketers. You’ll want
challenges, number one, if you want to gain as much knowledge as possible, you
want to be challenged, pushed outside your comfort zone, you want to learn a
new skill, or just kind of learn how business is run, or you just want to be
challenged. I mean that’s basically it. And if that’s your number
one priority then it’s going to influence the types of roles you look
for. Last is balance, which is specific to
work-life balance. If you want to, you have a life event that you need to have
flexibility, maybe this means you’re only looking for a part-time role.
Or maybe this means you’re looking for a company that isn’t one that’s working hard and
playing hard. So, that could influence the types of companies that, if
balance is your number one priority then you’re probably not looking to go work
for a start-up. We’re not looking to go work for an agency because those things,
those environments aren’t necessarily supporting balances as the number one priority. So, you get the idea. Start to get familiar with these factors, but then
take the exercise. Rank them for yourself. What are the top three? When you define those top three, you’ll be amazed at how clear your vision becomes on the types
of companies you should be looking at. Then, that’ll lead you to certain
resources and certain individuals and certain influencers and certain content sources.
So, go through this exercise, you know. Bonus if you get somebody that you
know or knows you to gut-check and rank the same six factors for you because
that’s a good way to make sure that you’re being honest with yourself.
But make sure and think about re-evaluating your priorities
the way you have ranked every three months or so because priorities do tend
to shift. And then, lastly, is the market. I talked about market being about:
How do you connect yourself with the market? How do you market yourself as it relates to
taking maybe the first step into executing your digital
marketing career plan? And think of it in two ways: there’s an active approach and
there’s a passive approach. Active is really focused on taking action. Do
things that generate an immediate result. Now, that could be things like attending
webinars, taking courses, gaining immediate experience around a certain
topic that you want to become more fluent in, and really just doing things
to just soak up as much information as possible. Whereas your passive actions
are going to be things that are setting you up for the long term. They’re their
actions, yes, but they’re done so that they set you up for a possible
opportunity down the road. Now that could be getting more involved in networking,
meeting people and telling them your story, having those exploratory
conversations, posting your resume on places where it takes your resume in and
then notifies you when something relevant comes up. Consider a combination
of both of these approaches and these will help get you job ready as you start
to advance your plan. Now, diving deeper into one of the active examples is, you
know, getting hands-on experience. Probably the best way to position
yourself be: job ready for any digital marketing career. Now, GenM, a place that
I work with, happens to position or happens to provide a market place
designed just for that. So, you basically join as a student. You have access to
free online courses. You then have access to businesses that are looking for
marketers to help them with their true real world needs. You get connected with those businesses.
You get the hands-on experience. The business gets the help
and the cost to you is just your time. So, if you got a couple months to get some
hands-on experience that can equip you for that first conversation of
explaining your accomplishments and why you’re relevant for a full-time role, is a place to check out. When it comes to passive experiences,
I talked about making connections through networking. A great passive action you
can take is go to Look in your zip code, maybe
a 10-25 mile radius. I can guarantee that there’s probably a digital marketing
event happening in your area in the next week that you can just attend to learn
more about. Or see who shows up and start making connections that way. Of course,
there’s other networks like your alumni network, marketing associations, and Slack,
Reddit, Linkedin. Again, you have your factors prioritized, you now know what
types of networks and groups to look at. So, in summary, this is again just summary
bullet points on some of the key steps you can take to start defining and
preparing for your career in digital marketing and just by following these
steps, like we talked about, you know, you look to gain more clarity get more focus
and focus on how can you impact the first couple of steps in preparing for
your digital marketing career. So, that’s it. I want to thank you for
your time today, you know. Definitely some actions to take here if you want to get
started in preparing for your career but if you have any
questions along the way, you get stuck, you want to know how to use some of
these profiles or some of these frameworks, shoot me an email.
Definitely connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s stay in touch. But if you’re
looking for a printout of that career profiles, the Eight Elements, go to this
URL here. There’s some bonus resources there: the printable guide there that you
can use for yourself. But also, some resources in terms of tools, other
sources for education. Just, again, my gift to you as you start your journey on your
digital marketing career. So, best of luck in your preparation pursuit. Reach out if
have any questions and have a great day!

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