Finding the right person for a job can be tricky. You have to go through [cover] letters, interviews, offer letters, the process can go on and on. A thing most employers don’t realise, is that they can be making costly mistakes from the first step: the job advertisement (Hrsimple.com, n.d.).
First of all, let me tell you a little more about myself… My name is Elle and I recently graduated from the University of Brighton, receiving a 2:1 in Media studies and Sociology in June 2015. Since then I have been searching for my dream job in Marketing. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure how I made the decision to focus on marketing as a career, but after completing my dissertation focusing on ‘Social Networking Sites and Digital Culture: Reality, Representation and Convergent Audiences’ I realised I had a real passion for communication and social media.
My search for a job started where most people start, on the job boards, and I applied for all sorts of Marketing Assistant roles because I would be assisting the marketing team and learning the skills needed for this sector, right? Well, not necessarily as I was about to discover!
I have seen many job adverts that sounded fantastic for someone in my position, seeking a marketing role to begin a career in the sector. However, once attending the interviews and “observation” days, these jobs ended up being nothing like the originally advertised job; they were so far away they may as well have been in outer space!
So, I had decided that I was interested in a career in marketing and I did my homework and investigated the different aspects of the marketing industry. I am young and inexperienced so I would be starting at the bottom of the ladder and the role of a Marketing assistant appealed to me as I would be working alongside the marketing manager, learning new skills. I imagined that I would be building email databases as part of the companies communication strategy, social media, basic photo editing and content writing amongst other duties, but I was ready to take on new challenges and learn!
So I applied for a few roles…
Marketing Assistant – I don’t want to copy and paste the job descriptions in their entirety for obvious reasons, but they talk about developing and implementing business solutions for clients to increase customer retention and foster new growth and bridging the gap between clients and their customers – all great stuff!
These sounded like great roles for me. I had some previous experience and I had the theory from my degree and the customer service and sales experience from previous employment roles. Oh and not to mention I’m a wonderful person of course!
As many people know Marketing goes hand in hand with Sales and although some skills overlap, I do believe you need specific skills for marketing and specific skills for sales. Anyway, after having two interviews I received phone calls asking me to come to ‘observation days’. I was overwhelmed! I had an interviews for a real marketing jobs! How disappointed I was… the jobs were nothing like the adverts. On one of the observation days I was asked to sit in a coffee shop while writing down the answers to certain questions and scenarios, then stand in a shopping centre selling credit cards dressed in a chicken outfit … ok, I didn’t have to wear the chicken outfit but I did feel like a right turkey! To cut a long story short, both jobs were direct sales roles that meant I would be out in the field, pushing sales for certain products. To me this is more of a face-to-face sales role, not a Marketing Assistant. Although some of you may argue that this is “marketing” a product, the skills required are very different in my opinion. I turned down both jobs as they weren’t what I was looking for.
Looking at the Marketing sector from a broader perspective, is there actually any need for candidates with digital skills like mine? As companies are increasing their use of digital media and digital marketing, to deliver their campaigns and latest updates many would suggest there is a very real skills shortage. Companies are starting to increase their usage of social media to engage with audiences in order to build communities and brand awareness. The digital skills taskforce puts this into perspective stating that ‘our lives have become digital by default. With that the opportunities have multiplied and technology enabled change is now expected as a routine fact of modern day life’ (UK Digital Skills Taskforce, (2014).
So of course companies need savvy digital natives to fit these roles and as Ed Miliband, Ex Leader of the Labour Party mentions in the report, there is ‘[the] frustration that so many young people are missing out on the opportunities available to them in an ever-expanding digital world, in spite of being the most tech-savvy generation we’ve ever had’ UK Digital Skills Taskforce, (2014). How is it then the case that there are loads of graduates like me looking for employment and are unsure whether their skills are needed? Why are employers not pushing for these skills in their recruitment process? An article (Gurney-Read, 2014) in the telegraph discussing the report highlights research by City and Guilds, with the findings that’s 47% of employers in digital and IT sectors argue that the education system doesn’t teach children the skills and needs of business world. ‘It’s time to look again at the skills we are teaching young people, and develop a curriculum that is truly aligned with what employers need’ (Gurney-Read, 2014). People like me are struggling to find work with the skills we have. ‘The report has called on the Government to invest an additional £20 million by 2020 to help embed the new curriculum in schools – further to the £3.5 million already provided; a sum which the report has labelled as "simply not sufficient"’. It looks like these businesses are crying out for people like me but are unaware of the skills we have. It should be made clear to applicants exactly what skills are needed.
My story ends well though, I got into contact with a recruitment agency called HR Go and they offered me a job that was much more suited to me; a genuine marketing role! This role fulfilled the expectation I had originally had of a marketing role. Controlling social media, writing and producing content, communication with clients etc.
I always had a bad view of recruitment companies as I felt they would shove me in a job that I didn’t want, just to fill the role. This wasn’t the case at all! This job was finally a marketing role that was actually marketing! (Or at least what I think marketing is). So here I am now sitting here writing this article to share my experience with employers and other job seekers, It’s from a graduate’s perspective who felt ambushed by the recruitment process of certain companies.
Right, so what needs to happen now? Firstly, for employers out there, my three favorite tips out of a list of dos and don’ts when creating a job advert:
For more of these please look at the article 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Creating More Effective Job Postings on the hiring site (Lorenz, 2013).
Clare Hopping produced a good piece of advice for employers to follow, stating that ‘while vacancies for graduates have increased, filling these vacancies effectively requires targeted efforts. Recruiters must work hand in hand with organisations to ensure that their quotas for university-leavers are filled by applicants that are a strong fit for the company. And to this end, employers must look to new and varied technologies to cast their branding message across as wide a pool as possible’ (Hopping, n.d.). Especially for digital media jobs, employers need to use the resources they have, social media is the best way to get hold of the savvy digital natives they are searching for. But also, for both employers and everyone else out there, maybe it’s time to look at a recruitment company. You can then gain a clear understanding of the needs of your business and also the type of candidate you’re looking for, but also vice versa. Candidates, you can discover what type of role would suit your skills and preferences within your chosen sector.
Just remember the job advert is essential for finding the right candidates!
- Gingell, E. (n.d.). Social Networking Sites and Digital Culture: Reality, Representation and Convergent Audiences. Undergraduate. University of Brighton, Hastings campus.
- Gurney-Read, J. (2014). Britain faces 'growing shortage' of digital skills. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10985961/Britain-faces-growing-shortage-of-digital-skills.html [Accessed 18 Sep. 2015].
-Hopping, C. (n.d.). The Graduate Market is the Most Buoyant it's Been Since 2010. [online] Launchpadrecruits.com. Available at: http://www.launchpadrecruits.com/insight-articles/the-graduate-market-is-the-most-buoyant-its-been-since-2010 [Accessed 18 Sep. 2015].
-Hrsimple.com, (n.d.). Job advertisement do’s and don’ts. [online] Available at: https://hrsimple.com/blog/job-ads [Accessed 18 Sep. 2015].
- Lorenz, M. (2013). 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Creating More Effective Job Postings. [online] Thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com. Available at: http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2013/10/14/10-dos-donts-creating-effective-job-postings/ [Accessed 18 Sep. 2015].
- UK Digital Skills Taskforce, (2014). Digital skills for tomorrow's world. The independent report of the UK Digital Skills Taskforce. [online] UK Digital Skills Taskforce. Available at: http://www.ukdigitalskills.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Binder-9-reduced.pdf [Accessed 18 Sep. 2015].