How to land your first role in digital

Original post by Lachlan Kirkwood

First times are always memorable and they’re always a great learning curve.

If you’re currently a university student looking to embark on a journey into the digital industry, there’s truly no better time than now to start preparing yourself for your post-graduation job hunt. With Brisbane’s digital industry booming, there’s plenty of fantastic opportunities for new talent. If you’re looking to gain a competitive edge as a future job seeker, here are some top tips to help you along the way.

Build a personal brand

A personal brand helps you establish a voice in the industry, building awareness and developing a connection with your peers and potential employers. Some hot tips include creating a blog, engaging with your industry on LinkedIn and attending local networking events. All of these methods help contribute to your overall public image. Personal branding is a brilliant way of showcasing your ability to create and market your greatest asset … yourself!

Create a blog

Having a blog isn’t a must-have when looking to score your first job, but you’ll benefit from it in more ways than you could imagine. A blog is a fantastic way to develop some real world digital skills as it provides you with a platform to experiment with.

Stuck on what to write about? WRITE ABOUT ANYTHING! Love the beach? Create a series about top tips for beach goers. Love a meal or two? Start writing reviews of experiences at your favourite restaurants. There’s always SOMETHING that you can write about.

You’ll pick up on some useful content creation and development techniques, as well as develop an understanding for the importance of keywords and search optimisation. Creating a blog showcases your real life skills and commitment to a project. It’s a lethal asset for your job hunt.

Understand the industry

Like any profession, it’s important to be knowledgeable in your field of expertise. If you’re a student preparing to enter the digital job market, you need to be aware of the latest industry trends. When you take the time to research industry news and events, you’ll soon begin to pick up on hot trends and emerging fields relevant to your work. Let’s say you’re aiming to enter a role in social media marketing. Each day, you should aim to educate yourself on the latest social news. In doing this, you can soon learn when Instagram is rolling out new account features for brands, or that Facebook has new ad restrictions.

It’s also important to understand common jargon used within your industry. For aspiring digital marketers, you need to have a sound understanding of what terms like PPC and SEM stand for, and how they’re used in practice. When you begin to understand your industry, you’ll soon be able to engage with like-minded peers and drive some enticing discussions. This is also helpful throughout the interviewing process as it shows you’re proactive and knowledgeable.

Befriend a recruiter

Building a relationship with a recruiter could start with something as simple as; sending a connection request on LinkedIn, sending them a DM on Twitter, or even emailing them directly. If you’re going to make an attempt at this, it should be noted that your main objective is to build meaningful relationships over time, so try and partner with someone who shares similar interests with yourself.

Although recruiters probably won’t have specific roles for students, they do have hundreds of industry leads. If you’re lucky enough to spark a partnership with a recruiter, they can have substantial value by providing feedback on your resume, tips for job interviews or useful insights into industry expectations.

Work experience

Voluntary work experience is about going above and beyond your student duties and partaking in real-world work in your field of study. Work experience can be as simple as devoting a week out of your holidays, or even participating in a one-day-a-week internship program throughout a semester. By leveraging your family and friends network, or better yet, your recruiters’ network, you can find potential opportunities for student work experience.

 Work experience teaches you some valuable skills and serves as a bonus on your resume. If you’re doing work experience, why not write a blog post about it and build on that personal brand of yours?

Forget about salary expectations

As a student you need to remember that even though you have several years of study behind you, you may not possess any actual real-world experience. It’s almost as if your experience clock resets itself after university and you’re forced to start over again. When you begin applying for jobs, you’ll soon realise that roles offering an appealing salary are are for skilled candidates who house years of field experience. Applying for jobs can be a long process, and you can waste a whole lot of time if you persist on applying for unrealistic roles.

Obviously you’ll need to earn enough to keep a roof over your head, but it’s important that you always view your first role as an investment in yourself. You’re not going to advance your career if you don’t start somewhere. As I’m sure your parents told you time and time again, the most important thing that you can do is to get your foot in the door.

Be genuine

After graduation finally arrives, you’re likely to dive right into your job hunt. Although your glowing qualification is a valuable addition to your resume, unfortunately it still doesn’t guarantee you a full-time job. Applying for jobs online can be a strenuous process. Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself mass applying for any role in the hope that at least one application will be successful.

Instead of mass applying for jobs, it’s important to have a long think about where exactly your dream job would be. What would the company look like? What industry would you work in? What would your job entail? Once you’ve identified areas of interest, take the time to study organisations within that particular industry. Study their work, their clients and their culture. Then begin crafting a personalised cover letter to each organisation introducing yourself and explain how you can provide value. By taking the time to personally reach out to these companies, you’re able to easily attract attention and properly introduce yourself. Company founders appreciate it when candidates already understand their dynamic. Although they may not have any jobs currently advertised, there’s always the possibility that they’re planning on hiring in the near future, and will often prioritise you as the first consideration.

When looking for your first job, it’s crucial to try and physically put yourself in front of the right people. By meeting them face-to-face, you build a personal connection and you have an opportunity to identify how you might fit within their organisation.

So if you’re currently a student who’s graduating in the near future, there’s no better time than now to start preparing for your job hunt. By all means, my suggestions in this post aren’t for everyone, but if you can go out and put at least one of these ideas in motion, future you will be extremely thankful!


Lachlan Kirkwood

I’m a digital marketing and conversions specialist with a love for all things digital. Outside of work I produce the weekly Digital Talk podcast, publish the Brisbane Digital Spotlight blog series, and post regular content about my personal experiences in digital.