The digital marketing field can be tricky to navigate for somebody new to the workforce. There are seemingly endless entry level digital marketing positions, from social media coordinators to email marketing specialists. I took a look at 100 of these positions on LinkedIn in the Detroit area to see if I could pinpoint any trends.
At any given time, there are between 200 and 300 entry level digital marketing jobs listed on reputable sites like LinkedIn. Some positions are simply thinly veiled sales positions, while others read like a director-level position. Most positions were also split into two sections: responsibilities and qualifications. Between both sections, the most common string I found was ambiguous yet obvious:
“Strong communication skills”
This seems like a no-brainer, and something that you cannot really quantify through experience. But it is a standard bullet point in almost all marketing roles in general – the need to clearly express yourself and the business to others via multiple mediums.
Note: We don’t talk too much about salaries in this article, but check out these insights into some entry level digital marketing jobs.
Entry Level Digital Marketing Job Responsibilities
If you look past the generic and most common lingo you will come across some interesting position responsibilities:
- Create or utilize analytics and/or reporting KPIs
- Develop or implement social media strategy
- Manage social media accounts
- Manage company website
- Lead relationships with vendors or other external partners
Of the five responsibilities listed above, it was rare to see all five together in a single job description. But it was common to see three or four bunched together, despite many being completely different functions and skill sets. Social media was the most common “focus” area of the job descriptions I reviewed, with website management coming in a close second. And while search engine optimization (SEO) is all the rage on growing digital marketing teams, the term was much more uncommon than I expected. The term “SEO” ranked fifth when I counted the six most common digital marketing focus areas.
The full list, in order of most often seen to least often:
- Social media
- Website or UX/UI
- Email marketing
- Digital advertising
I know there are other focus areas many relate to each other. But it is surprising how many jobs isolated one focus (especially social media) without any mention of anything else. The list does not even include what I believe to be the single most important responsibility.
“Digital marketing strategy”
Maybe a more senior individual manages the digital marketing strategy, but I would have expected to see some mention of this in some of the roles. In fact, the phrase “digital marketing strategy” only appeared nine times out of 100.
So what can we learn from this?
- A holistic understanding of the entire digital marketing environment is not expected in an entry level role; companies prefer a specialization. This is not to say you should focus your time specializing in a single focus area, but a “jack of all trades, master of none” is going out of style in entry level jobs.
- Data is becoming more important and should be a part of any strategy. Making digital marketing decisions on a hunch is no longer a valid move. Rather, you need to make data-driven decisions every day when spending company money on mass online marketing techniques.
Entry Level Digital Marketing Job Qualifications
Recall the “strong communication skills” I mentioned earlier. This is a core part of the qualifications section, either at the very beginning or end of the list.
When it comes to having the proper experience and qualifications for a role, students have always been quick to tell me that entry level positions ask for unreasonable experience. If a role is entry level, then the candidate should be just that. However, many companies select “entry level” for roles that require up to four or five years experience.
Of the 100 jobs I reviewed, more than half required at least two years’ experience. That experience is not specified (i.e. college internships or related work could pass) but it is the first item on the list after the education requirements, which is almost always a bachelor’s degree or a work equivalent.
15 jobs required at least four years of experience, which I immediately discredited as being truly “entry level.”
Approximately half of the roles asked for experience in the company’s field, which can be difficult for students entering the workforce straight out of college. It essentially pigeonholes a student based on past internships and likely will force them into that field for their immediate professional future.
But I understand the business side, too. Companies were in a diverse set of industries including manufacturing, insurance, and cannabis. These are not industries you can learn from a marketing and sales point of view in a few days – they require a certain degree of familiarity to avoid a prolonged training process.
Finally, the skills and software knowledge were somewhat standardized. As long as you know the basics of Microsoft, can maneuver around the Google Suite (especially Google Analytics), and have dealt with some sort of social media aggregator (for those in the social media world) you will be fine. But if not, I highly recommend becoming familiar with those three sides of the digital world.
So what can we learn from this?
- The “years experience” should never be the sole thing stopping you from applying to a position. I am not convinced companies know what they want when it comes to a certain number of years’ experience.
- Industries do matter. Spend some time thinking about the industry where you are applying and make sure you will be comfortable in that environment. Some professionals never waver from the industry in which they first started after college. It is a big choice.
- Learn the basics of the most popular digital marketing programs. Sites like Hootsuite, Hubspot, Adobe, and Salesforce all appeared many times in the qualifications section. This is not to say you must become an expert, but you should be able to speak intelligently about them in an interview and at least be able to navigate them. Watch YouTube tutorial videos or read message boards. There are endless resources available.
Entry level digital marketing positions are readily available and should be applied to at your own discretion. I purposely did not dig into some of the specifics like agency roles, hiring firms, or position titles – I prefer to focus on the merits of the descriptions and qualifications.
When I graduated from undergrad, I applied to close to 200 companies before I received a single interview. I did not truly understand the meanings behind some of the terminology or roles that were out there nor did I understand that I had to be proactive if I wanted to get a job. Luckily for me, that one interview turned into a job which eventually led to where I am today. If you follow the learning steps above together with my eight steps for working in digital marketing, you will be on your way to becoming a strong digital marketing.
What do you think about this review? If you are a hiring manager, what do you look for in an ideal entry-level candidate?