Written by: Jennifer Carlevatti // Aug 7, 2020
Last updated: Dec 17, 2020
Are you a social media maven who lives for likes, comments, and follows? Do you dream of getting paid to spend the day on Facebook and Instagram? Do you possess both an analytical mind AND creative flair? You could be a natural for a career in digital marketing! Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a career change, we’ll show you how to get into digital marketing without a degree.
Digital marketing is not only an exciting career path, it's lucrative as well. The 2019 median pay for an advertising, promotions or marketing manager was $135,900, and demand for marketing professionals is projected to grow faster than the average for other professions. As a newbie or career changer, you’ll likely start at a more modest salary, but the income potential over the course of your career is excellent. Let’s dive into what you’ll need to get started.
What Skills are Required to Get a Digital Marketing Job?
According to Digital Doughnut, some of the skills you’ll need to become a rock star in this multi-faceted field include:
- Data analysis
- Writing and editing
- SEO and SEM
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Social media advertising
- Basic design
- Mobile marketing
If you already have a solid foundation in these 10 areas, bravo! If not, you’ll need to become proficient in at least a few of these before embarking on the job hunt. Not sure how to make that happen? Read on!
Lay the Groundwork for a Successful Job Search
As a pretty successful guy named Louis Pasteur once said, “fortune favors the prepared mind.” This is especially true when trying to break into a new field. Fortunately (no pun intended), there are ample ways to upskill and show your value to potential employers without earning a degree.
Build Your Credibility With Free Certifications
You can earn a variety of certifications that will look great on your résumé. Best of all, they’re FREE! These highly prized credentials are often preferred over a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate your knowledge in key skill areas.
Google Ads Certifications: With this free training, you’ll learn all about search, display, video, and shopping ads, plus measurement of results. Many entry-level digital marketing jobs require this certification.
Google Analytics Academy: This free training teaches beginners and experienced users how to grow an online presence through data tracking and web analytics tools.
Hootsuite Academy: Through Hootsuite, you can earn industry-recognized social media certifications that will help you stand out from the crowd when applying for social media marketing jobs.
HubSpot Academy: This free course covers the basics of inbound marketing, including drawing in customers, attracting leads, crafting engaging landing pages, writing strong calls-to-action, and growing an audience.
Microsoft Advertising Certified Professional: Learn the fundamentals of search engine marketing in this free course, from starting your first search advertising campaign to optimization and managing your budget.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but these courses can help you obtain valuable certifications that will impress hiring managers.
Prove You Can Do the Work
You can tell future employers all about your digital marketing skills, but it’s much more powerful to show them. If you don’t already have a website, blog, or social media channel, they’re great ways to start building your reputation with a solid work product. Alternatively, if you’d rather not toot your own horn, offer to help friends or family members with small businesses who need assistance raising their web or social media game.
To showcase your writing and SEO skills, try creating a writing sample and get it to rank high on Google for a particular keyword. You can publish it on a platform like Medium without the need to create your own blog or website. If you’re invited to an interview, you could even write a spec blog post for the company and share it with the hiring manager for evaluation.
While all of these ideas involve some extra effort, they can prove to employers that you know what you’re doing.
Follow the Digital Marketing Leaders and Trends
In a field that changes as often as the weather, what works today may not work tomorrow. To stay in the know on the latest trends, follow digital marketing thought leaders like Seth Godin or Neil Patel and sites like The Moz Blog.
Once you progress to the interview round of your job search, hiring managers will often ask which influencers you admire or follow online. Our advice? Become a fan of the big names. Follow them on social media, listen to their podcasts, and watch their videos so you can speak intelligently about industry leaders (and learn a thing or two).
Work Your Network
When it’s time to start applying for jobs, never underestimate the power of existing contacts in your quest to become America’s Next Top Digital Marketer. Your network has built up a level of trust and confidence in your work – use it! Request referrals and recommendations. Ask about un-advertised positions or internships. Offer your services on a freelance basis. One small opportunity is all you need to help get your foot in the door and land your first digital marketing job.
The Bottom Rung Is a Good Place to Be
Wouldn’t it be great if you could throw yourself at the career ladder and land directly on top? It’s not an impossible feat, but to break into digital marketing, chances are you’ll need to get some experience further down the ladder.
For best results, start your search by applying for entry-level positions like a marketing specialist or marketing coordinator. Apply even if you aren’t a perfect fit! Because you’re trying to break into a new field, use your cover letter to highlight your blog/website/social channels and any freelance work you’ve done pro bono. Including results (like a top Google ranking for a particular keyword) can prove to hiring managers that you have the chops to handle the position.
Another idea to consider: Offer to work for free for a limited time, or apply for an internship position. By doing this, you can add to your resume, earn a recommendation for a job well done, make connections, and work with larger clients than you’d be able to land on your own.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to optimize your social media profiles before starting the job hunt (update LinkedIn, remove sketchy pictures from Instagram, etc.). They’ll be under additional scrutiny when applying to digital marketing positions.
Enhance Your Résumé With a Digital Marketing Certificate From USF
For an affordable way to give your job search an extra boost, explore USF's new Marketing in the Digital World for the Small Business certificate program. In just eight weeks, you’ll learn the foundations of digital marketing, including search, social, video, display, and email marketing, and earn a credential that helps you stand out as a candidate. Contact the Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education online or at 813-974-0950 for more information.