How can you set yourself apart from everyone else? A question most recent graduates face when applying for their first job or internship. In the most recent Career, Tips Podcast Rich Brooks lets recent grads in on some tips and tricks to stand above the other applicants when applying for internships or agency jobs. There are two ways to improve your chances of getting your dream job and they fall under two main categories, essential skills, and concepts that leave a lasting memory in the employers’ mind.
Essential Skills for the Workplace
An often overlooked but not undervalued skill is the mindset you hold when entering a job, especially an entry-level position. When a job is looking for an entry-level position they are hiring based on the attitude of the person and the references, more so than the skills themselves. Jobs are willing to teach the skills you need to know as you’re open to learning and want to learn new things. In any field but especially in a digital marketing position having the right attitude to want to continuously learn and grow is paramount to any other skill. Technical skills are always changing and evolving making them come and go, but the bottom line is you’re going to have to continually stay on top of your learning if you want to stay in digital marketing because it is so different month to month and year to year.
With Communication being the backbone of business it is highly important to convey that you have the skills to properly communicate. Written communication is often more important when applying for a job than actual technical skills. Businesses are always sending emails and often are creating blog posts and social media posts that need to be communicated in a clear and concise way for readers to be able to understand the contents.
The best way to showcase your communication skills is through the cover letter. If you can get the hiring team or person excited to talk to you just from the cover letter then you are one step closer to landing the job.
It may seem like a no-brainer but make sure you have filled out the cover letter and resume with no spelling or grammatical mistakes. Spelling mistakes are almost a universal way to get your changes of a job thrown away.
Alongside making sure everything has correct spelling and proper grammar when writing a resume or cover letter put relevant skills and leave out things that the company doesn’t care about. A lot of people don’t have much experience when applying for a job so list relevant skills and if you can find a way to make a restaurant job apply for a marketing job then go for it but for a lot if you just list retail and restaurant experience with no explanation it hurts your chances.
How to stand out
Resume & Coverletter
So many websites and programs have simple templates for resumes like Word, while using a template is never a bad way to start something simple to instantly stand out are to make sure your resume looks different from a template.
A quick and easy way to spice up a basic resume is to add a photo of yourself at the top to go along with your name. People like to put a face to a name and especially in the world today where social media is more prevalent than ever people already know what you look like or can easily look you up.
Much like how a photo of yourself added to your resume will help you stand out if you create a video of yourself talking about why you are passionate about the job you are applying for and attract it to your cover letter then you can stand out and show off your ability to edit video.
A way that you might not think will make your cover letter stand out is by making sure you do all the research into the company and reference it throughout the cover letter. By taking the time to research will show the employer how much you care about the job.
LinkedIn is a great platform that almost every company is on so you need to make sure that you are on top of your profile as well as the content you post on it.
For some employers reaching out after the application process with a phone call or email can be a good idea but for some, this isn’t helpful and oftentimes can hurt your chances of getting the job. A good alternative to sending an email or calling them is to connect with them on LinkedIn. Connecting is a low-pressure sales tactic that shows the employer that you know the platform.
Being a photographer and/or videographer can always help you in the hiring process even if there hobbies of yours. Companies are always going to need high-quality photos and videos so being able to showcase your work will definitely help in the interview process.
In an interview, you are being asked a lot of questions so the employer can get to know you, but one of the things that many people who are being interviewed overlooks is the questions you ask about the job or the company. Asking questions shows the interviewer that you are interested and people love to talk about themselves so you will stand out even more.
Watch The Full Show Below
okay rich brooks thank you so much for joining me on the career chips podcast show since we’re going to start multi-streaming um and yeah i’m really excited to have you here as an agency owner of flight in um in portland maine and super excited because you’ve just hired two new people onto your team how many people it’s fresh all the ones are fresh when it comes to hiring so i’m ready to talk about it perfect yeah well and and how long have you on the agency so we’re coming up on 24 years so it’s been quite some time yeah we’re starting to actually get okay on the higher over the years we haven’t had so much turnover i mean if i haven’t counted up the total number of employees we’ve had over the years but i guess it’s probably around 20 to 25. yeah all right yeah and now you’re up to 10. and now we’re up to 10. this is the biggest we’ve ever been that’s exciting yeah absolutely and you have brand new or recently renovated space for everybody to settle in after covid yeah exactly we uh we were month to month on our lease for like six years and then i said you know what we really need an upgrade and talk to the landlord and he’s like yeah i’ll do all the things you’ve asked for uh just give me 10 year lease i said no problem this is you know we’re going to be here forever and then kovitz struck you know halfway through construction so i have been into the new office it looks cool albeit empty and i look forward to actually using it i mean it’s right on the waterfront it’s a historic building they took out all those drop ceilings so now you see the actual beams that they used to hang banana bunches when they came off of the boats it’s crazy so yeah looking forward to nice that’s awesome and portland’s downtown that area is spectacular it’s really great i love it yeah great energy great energy around yeah well and i think maine is one of those places that is a little bit undiscovered sort of like rhode island so if you can if you like the outdoors if you like to ski if you like to hike flight would be a great spot absolutely three years ago we were undiscovered but then all of a sudden i guess the word got out because it gets packed in the summertime but uh even even in the off season there’s still a lot more people than when i first moved up here in 99 but you know it’s still manageable compared to you know some bigger cities for sure yeah and where are you from originally i grew up outside of boston i grew up in a town called needham mass oh all right i know needham good um so tell us a little bit about your trajectory um and your background as an agency owner for 24 years that’s really um exciting what what what what led to that yeah there certainly wasn’t the plan that i would be doing this nearly a quarter of a century later i can tell you that i was doing medical sales for another company which was incredibly important in my growth because it taught me how to do sales and i was reading articles about the internet and i was really frustrated that the journalists at the boston globe seemed to know more about computers than i did because i’d always thought of myself as kind of like a computer guy and so i just you know bought an old computer and i started fooling around on the computer and i found the internet and i built a website for my company that i was working for at the time and they liked it so much that they took me off the road and they put me in the office which was the beginning of the end of me working for that company because that was not really where i wanted to be but i just decided that i would try to be on my own for a little while i’d build some websites and have some laughs and not work for anybody for a couple years and then at some point the programmers would learn how to design or the designers would learn how to program and i’d be out of a job but as i’ve discovered over the years you can just hire talented people and they will work with you to build something so that’s kind of the way that it all started and then over the years i just continued to add more people to the team people who were much better designers much better coders much better i hate to say this marketers than me and uh it’s it’s been a really fun interesting ride uh building this company yeah it’s fantastic and so your background is sales and that’s one well my background is being an english major with the idea that i was going to be a professor one day uh but yeah having and i am right and having a sales background it was definitely instrumental because i think when i first started a lot of people were building websites using rudimentary tools like me uh but they were introverts like they didn’t know how to sell or anything and i felt comfortable going and doing cold calls and talking to people about you know the importance of getting a website up and running and uh that definitely helped me along the way in terms of building up the agency that’s fantastic so um your most recent hires can tell me a little bit about them about this yeah so sure so the two roles that we just hired for were both kind of like entry level or maybe a step up after entry level positions uh one was the assistant project manager we have a project manager great project manager and lindsey babian and about a year and a half two years ago i elevated her to become our director of operations which she was more or less doing anyways but it was time to really acknowledge that and so she’s taken on a bigger role at the company i felt more comfortable giving everything i didn’t want to do off to her to either do or delegate and at a certain point you know it just gets too much so we knew that she needed help so basically she’s got an assistant assistant project manager and that was one role and then the newest hire which she hasn’t yet come on yet but we just she just accepted the job yesterday of the day before was for what we call a junior marketer on the team or junior digital marketer and she is going to be we talk about having majors and minors just to keep up with the school of things so her major is going to be in seo we really need some more support because our seo business is growing so rapidly and i’m a huge seo fan much more than social media and so we really want to grow the seo business and then her minor will probably be in social ads because that’s another area that we just continue to get more and more requests for and we really are honing that part of the business and we’re getting some great results for the client so it’s important that we get two and even three deep in all those categories fantastic and what are some of the qualities that you look for when you’re hiring well for these roles especially which i think is going to be great for your audience because these are junior level positions or entry level positions and i do believe that you know in most cases you’re hiring based on the attitude of the person and and the references more so than the skills themselves because any nobody knows seo intrinsically it’s something that you learn and as long as you’re open to learning and you can learn new things you should be fine as long as there’s an interest there for me a couple things that i’m interested in i don’t know if this is universal but i care more about your cover letter than i do about your resume because one of the most important things for an agency is to be able to communicate i mean that’s probably true with every business not just agencies but the ability for you to communicate via the written word because even with everybody doing zoom these days we’re still sending so many emails every day plus blog posts social media posts all these sort of things then you need to be able to communicate in a clear concise and understandable way so that’s a critical thing and so making sure that that cover letter really gets me excited to talk to this person in an initial interview that’s absolutely key and so i’m less worried about their actual skill set but obviously if i’m looking at two people who write a really who can craft a really good cover letter then i’m also uh then if if that’s equal then yeah if one person has experience running seo or google ads that’s definitely going to give them the boost or the benefit nice well that’s good to know that you know you would place the communication skills over let’s say some technical skills and i think it’s important because technical skills can change a lot more quickly than teaching communication skills is a whole different ball of wax well if you knew facebook ads three years ago but you didn’t touch them in the last three years you’d brought basically be starting from scratch right and same thing with with seo things change so rapidly in the industry and yeah the more things you know within the industry the easier it is to adapt to changes but the bottom line is you’re going to have to continually stay on top of your learning if you want to stay in digital marketing because it is so uh different uh month to month and year to year yeah i would say that’s probably the number one thing about digital marketing is that you have to be a lifelong learning lifelong learner absolutely otherwise uh yeah you just get outpaced i was just uh at a virtual conference for the past two days this morning and um it was interesting talking to people who have been in the industry for 10 or 12 years like well you know it was more confirmation of what i knew and and you know it’s just interesting to get a couple of snippets there and i think you’re the person who told me you know after a while suzanne you’re going to go to conferences you’re not really going to learn too much it’s absolutely true and i think it’s even more true not just because you and i have been doing this for a little while but also just because blogs and podcasts and youtube videos everything you can learn at a conference is readily available on your on your tablet or your computer screen so there’s that element of it but i still strongly recommend that people go to live events when they do come back because the networking aspect alone is invaluable and the connections i make i mean the last event i went to it was just about a year ago in fact it was exactly a year ago with social media marketing world and even though i mean i picked up one or two new things because there were a couple things going on in the industry i was curious about i went to go but i was mostly going to see who’s a good speaker who could come on my podcast you know for me that was kind of the biggest thing and also just because i wanted to be seen have agents of change be a presence have flight immediately a presence but it’s a lot different than the earlier days when all of a sudden i’d go into a room and they were talking about youtube and i’m like oh my god i never realized what youtube can do like those days are behind me maybe i mean there’s probably still a few things that i learned but i think after a while you’re just going because you want to network people find those right connections and grow the business yeah it’s it’s super key can you um maybe give us some ideas on how you found the people who you just hired recently we uh obviously post things to our website uh a number of us have strong social media activity and strong social media following so we share that on our social media we usually use indeed and zip recruiter although i want to say the last two jobs were only indeed i’m not sure if we actually use zip recorder it’s not the element that i’m in i kind of again director of operations thank you taking that off my lap or my plate um and we used to use a service here in maine but i just am not which makes sense because this is an in-office position you will be in an office position we want you to live in greater portland or be willing to commute long distances so uh we were using some local based services but they just had less and less of an impact and indeed had more and more of an impact we also do a little bit of advertising on linkedin i will say that the next time we hire i’m going to tweak things a little bit because one of my frustrations with i mean i love indeed it puts us in front of so many more people in linkedin also but the bottom line is when they go through those services one of the things is people only upload their uh their resume and they rarely upload that cover letter which i tell them is essential so then i’m going through all the resumes and i have to reach out to people and be like i need a cover letter if you want to be considered if i think that their resume is all that so we’ll probably use those tools to funnel everybody to our website where we do require that that uh upload of the cover letter along with the resume yeah that makes a lot of sense um and interesting so when i when i do my intern hiring because it’s paid visit position you get a lot of applicants and so we have a fairly extensive process and it was interesting because i just gave a rough reference for my intern from a year ago so she started with me in january and then by march everything had gone crazy right so basically the internship kind of ended and yet i still had to give a reference for this person who was good but then even just trying to think about what in particular she was good at a year later was a little bit of a challenge normally my interns stay with me for a year um in my student to employment program that i’ve been running uh it’s a little bit different with roi and u which is which is concentrated but uh i had to say well you know let me tell you a little bit about the hiring process for this internship and how we vet people and all the different gateways that they have to go through we had 20 applicants we had two who completed all the steps and we hired both of them we normally only hire one and so this person was one of them and uh it was interesting because the woman who i was speaking to the hiring manager said wow okay yeah that’s that’s impressive you know the fact that you’ve gone through all that and they’ve gone through all that really says a lot and i said well yeah because i don’t have time to um you know i want somebody who’s who is really into it you know he’s not just going to show up and say like well i did i did an okay job i want somebody who really is willing to go the extra mile and um and yeah that the whole piece can be really important um in terms of betting people so following the instructions as you’re going through the application process is key absolutely anything you can do to stand out within reason i think is always a good idea you know in the old days they used to say you know send it in on special paper or something like that you know these days everything is almost everything is done digitally uh but uh there’s still ways to stand out i know you know i had to create my own resume about a year ago to apply for a leadership training session and i realized i don’t think i’d ever put together my resume in all my years so i had a you know i used a template from word and then i’m like oh well now i know why so many of the resumes look exactly like this because people are just using the template from word i would say try and get creative one of the other things is i don’t see too many people that include their photos on resumes right now and with social media and everybody knowing what everybody looks like i almost think that that might be a really good thing to do just whatever you can do that’s relevant to help your resume and your cover letter and just your application stand out it’s it’s not going to hurt yeah is there anything uh particularly creative that you would find inviting or that you’ve seen people do um i had a few people and this is kind of like a double-edged sword because one of the things is i can’t stand when people start following up with me via phone calls and emails when it specifically says you know once we’ve received you’ll you’ll get a recognition that you we received it you know please don’t hound us with with calls because usually we keep it up for two or three weeks and it’s just too much to handle and then you get the people who are just obviously ignoring that because they’re anxious they want a job i understand that um but i did have a few people who were applying for the job who connected with me on linkedin and i thought that was kind of a low pressure sales tactic that i respected like they were showing me that they knew the platform i could see what they were up to what they were doing and i thought that was kind of a a little bit of a a plus in their category yeah excellent well i think that makes sense right and then they you know they’ve researched you um that they’ve looked looked at your company page maybe do you have any linkedin tips that might be good for um emerging professionals oh how much time do we have i love linkedin i mean i’ll be honest uh for social media and because we’re in a b2b space i just find linkedin to be really important and not every hiring person is going to be like at me but yeah i think you know the typical things like make sure that you have a professional looking profile pick and i’m not saying you have to go hire a professional photographer to take it but don’t take a photo where your friend’s arm is still around your shoulders and you just cropped him or her out like that doesn’t look good um let people like you have all these different places where you can kind of put things in so if you’re looking for a job you know let people know that you’re you know a recent graduate you’re looking for open to digital marketing jobs build up your resume section your about section as much as you can within uh linkedin make connections with people that seem relevant for from the industry and follow the right kind of people like i want to see kids who maybe are a little bit above their years in terms of that they know where they’re going that they’re passionate about marketing or digital marketing or seo whatever it may be and that can easily be reflected in the kind of content that you share in your profile that’s up there recommendations from professors all that sort of stuff like anything you know if you don’t have a lot of job experience those are all good things to include as well and there’s opportunities for multimedia so you know if you did a class presentation that uh showed how you built up a local company’s email list you know and you you have a recording of that do that or or just sit in front of a zoom camera right and just record that and upload it so people can get a sense of your level of professionalism and your commitment to the industry those are all really great tips yeah so uploading multimedia onto onto linkedin would be really great have you um just a side note have you done anything with linkedin live i have not but only because i don’t do a lot with live regardless i think this is my first time on on facebook live in about 11 months so uh it’s it’s just not live is not my milieu so i don’t tend to use it all that much um i think that there’s a lot of opportunity there it’s just not a place you know it always comes down to how many places can you be and how much can you commit to any platform and live is not as intriguing to me and my business as it might be to somebody else sure yeah i think that’s good and then do you expect any new hires to have any specific um i guess what are some other things that might set them apart sure well if uh we’re really portland has a lot of great photographers and videographers and we even have some hobbyists on our team who do great work but the ability to create video or to create or to take photos that i think is one of those really extra things that you could do i mean obviously you can be going after a photography job or videography job but i’m just saying if you’re going after you want to be a digital marketer and you can take high quality professional photos or videos it just adds a whole lot um to what’s going on another thing is you could actually be already have developed your own audience and so if you’ve got a following of people because you have a blog or because you regularly post on linkedin or you have a heavily followed medium account or whatever it may be those can all be beneficial things too and again it really depends on the type of agency where you want to work so when i went through we got probably 100 applications for this most recent junior marketing position and i knew the kind of role that it was going to be and we described it like it’s going to be you know heavy in seo heavy on analytics heavy on ads like that’s what it’s going to be we’re not looking for instagram influencers but yet we got a whole bunch of people who talked about how good they were on instagram and how many followers they had and all this sort of stuff and i’m like great that’s a that’s a plus but it’s not really what i’m interested in because it’s not the kind of work we do with our clients so this is also another really important thing and it takes time but if you are going to be applying to different types of agencies and if you’re open to any type of agency just to get your foot in the door you got to recognize the type of work that that agency does and so if they’re all in b2b then don’t have a resume that talks about all of your b2c and if you don’t know these terms business to business versus business to consumers so if i’m talking about analytics and seo and linkedin and your resume is all about tick tock and snapchat and influencer marketing i’m not interested because it’s not really good for me it may be great for the other agency down the street that does beauty products or has a lot of restaurants or that’s what so you have to know your audience and this is just as true when you’re in the agency world it’s about pitching yourself in a way that resonates with your with your desired client so if you’re looking to get into business with an agency you need to spend a little bit of time taking a look at their website taking a look at who their clients are trying to find out who they’re connected to so that you can really hone that resume and that um and that cover letter or whatever else you’re doing for that audience and yes it will take you five to ten times as long to do that but you’re gonna stand out because i’ve seen those people who would publish and just send out the resume to every single business and it’s just completely irrelevant and it’s not tied into a location or anything like that and i ignore those like as soon as i recognize that this person didn’t read the job description i’m not going to go any further even if they’re the perfect fit so i think it’s really important it’s better to do a few applications really well than to try and think that you just can succeed by putting up your uh your application or your resume on every single place well it’s the same in marketing right we would call that spray and pray yeah exactly so that’s what you need to avoid because unless people are really desperate and who wants to work for a really desperate company right those people are really desperate they’re not going to hire you because they’re going to be like oh here’s somebody who you know paid and sprayed and then here’s another person who found my name and connected with me on linkedin and uh custom you know maybe even pulled a quote from my website like i really like how you’re working with small companies like x y and z like yes i know these are tactics but they showed that you at least did the homework and you’re going to immediately rise to the top in my eyes and i’m not like maybe i’m not a typical hirer but i know what i want and i know the kind of agency i want and the people i want to work with and it’s the people who do that extra work even if they don’t know that the outcome is going to be positive that’s critical for me because that’s what we do every day in the agency no i think that this this directly correlates to what i hear from other agency owners right it’s you need to or as i describe it to a lot of my students is tell me how you’re going to make my life better right like that’s really i want to come away with yes this is someone that i cannot live without and so what is it going to take to let me know that you a care that you b can follow directions that you see are going to make your best effort um and and so this is this these are the the tools and the channels that you have to work with so how do you do that and by following the instructions and uh and customizing and doing a good job is huge absolutely and a good cover letter right and i’d say i certainly understand that a lot of people are coming to us and for these jobs in particular there’s not going to be a lot of experience you have i do like if somebody has some office experience because sometimes people go out and start office work and they’re like oh this isn’t for me and i don’t want to spend a lot of energy and time to find somebody who leaves like a month later because it wasn’t the right fit so i like to see that you had at least one job that was in an office setting but that could certainly be an internship you know that’s totally fine the other piece of advice i might give is i saw a lot of resumes in the last month or two of people who listed every job they ever had and the majority of the jobs were in restaurants or in bars and i’m like i mean i get it that’s a hey listen i bartended for a while and i waited table i know how stressful and balancing everything but unless you can literally give me a reason why that matters to your resume i would leave it off i certainly wouldn’t have two pages of it i might mention that i worked in the restaurant industry so i know how to deal with all types of individuals and just leave it at that i don’t need to know exactly what you did or that you walked people from the hostess station to their table like i literally saw that on four resumes i’m like that is such filler material you know this is a portfolio and the portfolio isn’t everything you did it’s the most relevant and best things you’ve done so find a way to position it in that way and if you don’t have any experience you know one thing i might recommend is find out if there’s a non-profit or a cause-based organization near you and say look i just graduated from college and here’s all the things i know how to do and i just like something i’d like to do some work for you for free just so i can get my feet wet let me set up your mailchimp let me build your email list let me fix up your website whatever it may be and then that you have something that you can point to and they’ll probably be so happy they’ll write you the nicest reference letter ever and you can just talk about how you improve their website and increase their conversion rate by 50 percent or whatever it is that you help them do raise donations you know got the word out built up their social media presence all those things took you a few hours to do and now you actually have some real world experience that you can point to yeah absolutely and i think also tracking metrics is really important to say they had this many people on their email list or you know this was their bounce rate and i was able to stem the tide of unsubscribes there’s a lot of different ways and if you can note those at the beginning right then you have a metric that you can show here’s how i helped here’s how i improved and that’s objective right no one like if they really wanted to you know when you’re checking the references you can say can you just take a look at your you know email marketing um that that is going to show a sense of maturity and a sense of objectivity that i think is really important yeah absolutely and i think it like we talked about before it’s about reading the tea leaves so if you go through their website and their blog and their podcast and you find out that one agency is all about e-commerce or another agency is all about branding or another agency is all about serving nonprofits then you need to speak in that language when i get an rfp that i want to go after from a client a request for proposal i use the exact same words they put in the rfp in my proposal so they know that i read it and they know that we’re on the same page and really you should be treating every job you apply for as if they posted the rfp which was the job description and you’re applying for that so your proposal to work for them and try and really create something special for them i think that would be great and i’ll just throw this idea out nobody did this for me and i don’t know how i’d feel if i actually saw it but when we send out proposals these days we we actually embed a video for me where i kind of walk through the proposal everybody out there has a cell phone everybody out there’s got a video camera everybody out there can record themselves what if you included in a cover letter a little video of you explaining why you’re so passionate about the job that would definitely be something that would separate you from the competition i was wondering if you were going to go there and say you know that there’s there should be some type of multimedia component um it doesn’t have to be anything to yeah i mean everybody’s making videos all the time so it wouldn’t be that difficult for you to do something and again if video is part of the job then to show that you know how to edit and and put together a video that would be obviously showing off your talents right there yeah fantastic what about um because we’re just about out of time but any any soft skills that you would recommend
well i think we’re talking about kids in my mind right out of college and so some of these just end up you develop over time but obviously the ability to listen especially during these interviews you’re going to have one or two interviews probably during the course of getting a new job listening is incredibly important and one of the things that i think is under appreciated is the questions you ask about the job or the company when people come and we’ve had a good interview and i’m like so a question you have for us and like oh nothing or what’s the parking like it’s like such a letdown like here’s the secret people love talking about themselves so ask the interviewer like what you know how did you start the company if that’s their role if they actually started the company or why did you want to work here what’s your favorite type of client like who out of your current clients are your favorite and why are they your favorite you know those kind of questions where somebody’s like oh my god they’re really taking an interest in this like i want them on my team that right there is is gold so i would definitely really think about what questions do you have and i’m sure you can google a list just to get your brain started but bottom line is you want to show that you’re as interested in working there as possible and asking the right questions is a key component yeah the question i asked that uh i asked marty baron when he was interviewing me at the globe was well if you’re offering buyouts why are you hiring you know oh you know and really i wanted to know because i was like am i going to get laid off right it’s a very legitimate question so those kind of questions um definitely uh are important because again it’s just about how do you separate yourself from all the other eager people who are looking to fill that role all right well fantastic this was super i really appreciate your time rich and uh if if anybody wants to reach out to you what’s the best way to find you well i’m v rich brooks on every social media platform so that’s very easy you can check out our website at takeflightflyte.com and if you like podcasts be sure to check out the agents of change podcasts weekly podcasts where i interview digital marketing experts on a wide range of topics and certainly it’s going to give you some ideas of what to talk about when you are on your next job interview awesome thank you that’s fantastic and agents of change is definitely one of my favorites