Tips for digital graduates

OPINION / 30th August 2016

Keith Nation, Managing Director of ORM presents his top tips for every graduate to kickstart a career in digital.

Digital impacts everything, from the choices we make as individuals, to the way businesses are run. For those that fail to understand the power of digital, you’re going to miss the boat. That’s why ORM’s Managing Director, Keith Nation gave a lecture to Westminster University students on how to kickstart a career in digital.

Understand that a career isn’t for life

Many graduates worry how they can choose a career path that’s right for them, but in digital, it’s about choosing a direction and making considered decisions at every stage. The decisions you make along the way will ultimately dictate where you end up.

Select a growing sector

At the beginning of any career, the ideal is to get a junior job in a good sector, one that has growth potential. Don’t be concerned if it’s not 100% your dream job or area; you can always sidestep later once you know more about what you want.

Iterate yourself

In the same way that we launch a website or app, then create a programme of work to enhance a product, so too should you be prepared to optimise your career every few years – changing company, discipline, location or even industry. Keep an eye on the market. We saw the market for Flash developers killed off the instant Steve Jobs announced the launch of an iPhone with no Flash support. Expect digital to change.

Know your values vs. your skills

At entry level, an individual’s qualities are more important to an employer than their skills. So imagine yourself in their shoes. What values might they look for in a potential employee? Is it being proactive? Organised? Smart? Easy to get along with? Polite? Punchy? Write down 5 values you consider yourself to possess. Think about how these values might change according to differing job requirements. Research a potential employers values, so you can see if they align to yours. They will be impressed if you know theirs. Small companies offer training, and employers are people at the end of the day - they’d rather work with someone nice and ambitious than a lazy know-it-all.

The best interview technique tip

You may have asked yourself, “How do I overcome the ‘lack of experience’ barrier?”. Get some - good sources are internships, hobby projects, starting your own company, hackathons and Meet Ups. Many of these are free to attend, and the contacts you might meet there could prove valuable. If all else fails don’t brand yourself as a graduate or undergraduate, and don’t do the same to your work – you’re in the industry now so present yourself as you are (a designer, developer, marketer).
We encourage the next wave of digital marketers but they have a tough road ahead of them in an increasingly competitive job market. So ask yourself this question…If you could give advice to a digital graduate based on the experience you’ve had in your career so far – what would it be?

Read. Watch. Listen.

Finally, we’ve all heard the phrase, “I’m passionate about digital”. This is a classic flouting of the ‘Show don’t tell’ rule. Show that you’re passionate by being able to speak fluidly about the top trends that have had an effect on the industry in which you’re going for a job in.  It’s simple, know your stuff. Read everything around the subject. Tweet about it. Get it on your LinkedIn. No recruiter will fail to see your knowledge as making a positive difference to their team.

Good luck!

Keith Nation Keith Nation Managing Director & CTO Keith Nation