Essential Characteristics of an Internet Marketing Applicant or How a Dog Got Me My Job
The vast field of Internet marketing may not necessarily be new, but it certainly has changed from the days of simple email campaigns and standard websites. Now it involves numerous sectors, from SEO to social media and everything in between.
It is rapidly changing and requires someone to have their finger on the pulse of the Internet just to keep up. You have to be able to think three, no, make it nine steps ahead of the rest of the game and prepare for just about anything. Essentially, Internet marketing is the merging of the traditional types of marketing (news, radio, magazines, you know, the boring stuff) and the future of marketing (#Snapfacegram, #iPhone5000!).
In order to be a successful Internet marketer in today’s ever-changing world, an ideal candidate needs to be:
- Agile and flexible with the ever-changing technology
- Prepared for anything, even the worst
- Able to work with a wide variety of people and situations
- A great listener
- Able to think on their feet
- Intellectually Curious
This is where my story begins. I, Madelaine Kellman, have made it to the big leagues, aka Portent, as a Social Media Strategist Extraordinaire. Okay, okay, there may be a “junior” in my title somewhere, but I still feel compelled to explain my story as proof of having what it takes to become an Internet marketer.
I applied for my position at Portent in early June, thinking it was a long shot. I didn’t know if I had the qualifications but I wanted them to understand that I had the drive and wit necessary to learn what I needed to be a social media savant. I even wrote a rap – yes, a rap – for my cover letter. I dug deep for this job. But in today’s economy, you have to. There is so much competition, especially in the rapidly growing field of Internet marketing that someone looking to enter the field has to be willing to reinvent the wheel.
Below are 7 “musts” for the ideal Internet marketing applicant.
By reinventing the wheel, I mean being agile and willing to constantly learn new technologies, tactics, and methods. Being a twenty-something means I have essentially grown up in a tech-infused world so the Internet is nothing new to me. Knowing what goes into Internet marketing is a completely different story.
I even have somewhat of a tech background, formerly working for a giant Internet corporation that shall remain nameless (it rhymes with Shmoogle). But rather than majoring in the Internet in college, I chose to take the route of English Literature. But all that really did was 1) turn me into a grammar fascist and 2) give me the desire to see what else was out there. I did some writing and editing for the aforementioned company but I still wanted something more.
Cue Portent, stage left. I realized that Internet marketing is the future and it was something I wanted to be a part of. But in order to get there I needed to completely switch gears and learn an entirely new skillset. For those who do not have vast marketing experience, understand that this skillset is mandatory. There is no getting around understanding the most basic concepts of SEO, PPC, social, advertising, and content writing. By the time my interview rolled around, I was prepared. I had pumped myself up with a pep talk that Vince Lombardi himself would be proud of. I knew the basics and beyond, and I was ready. That is, until I hit the Thursday morning rush hour aftershock.
All of a sudden, my preparation seemed futile. I had taken everything into account, except traffic. How could I forget traffic?? I thought I was leaving late enough in the morning to happily cruise down the freeway and arrive downtown with plenty of time to spare. But I hadn’t accounted for the traffic aftershock.
All of a sudden, I saw my dreams slipping away; I was going to be late. I flew into a maniacal road rage. I was shouting obscenities and honking and doing everything I could to make everyone else on the road acutely aware of the fact that I had something VERY important to get to. I…was that driver. I’m not proud of the person I became on that freeway, but I did what I had to in order to keep my social media dreams alive.
This is a great lesson in what it takes to make it in Internet marketing. You absolutely must be ready for anything to come your way. Just last week Google completely changed their search game by fully encrypting results. That’s right, SEO as we know it has drastically changed from this one decision. (Learn more about that here.) Things happen with little to no advance notice and we as Internet marketers have no choice but to expect the unexpected. Remember when I said it is beneficial to be nine steps ahead of the game? Yeah, this is where that comes into play. It is in your best interest to not only be aware of what is happening in the field, but also what has happened and what is still to come.
Be able to relate
Here at Portent, we work with a wide range of clients on a daily basis, which means we are required to know a lot about a lot of different things. From consumer bases and demographics to product knowledge and key targets, we have to bring our A-game. A successful Internet marketer will be able to relate to a wide variety of people and situations and be a truly great listener. Each day requires listening to our clients, interpreting their needs, and delivering outstanding results for them.
Evidently, I presented myself as capable of connecting with people during my interview. From small talking with the elevator operator about the weather to the not one, not two, but FIVE people that I met and spoke with throughout, I had a genuine desire to listen and learn from everyone I encountered.
Be a good listener
I met with Sara Lingafelter, the senior to my junior, and she singlehandedly solidified my need to work at Portent. I listened and intuited what she needed to hear from me and got a deeper understanding of the job at hand. I connected what was expected of me to what I was able to offer and found common ground with Sara. This was just a foreshadowing of what each and every day would be like once I landed the job.
After meeting with Sara, she introduced me to both her director and her director’s director. I knew I had to bring it. I sat down on the brightly colored couch in the office of the boss lady, Elizabeth Marsten, and made sure to not let my confidence falter too much. All of the usual interview things occurred, of course, but this one was different. I needed this job.
My brain felt like a dancing monkey as I sat and tried to answer Elizabeth’s questions while simultaneously reminding myself to breathe and laugh (but not that horrible, awkward laugh that happens when you’re uncomfortable) while trying to come off as if I knew what I was doing. Her first words were, “You had the most creative cover letter I think I have ever seen.” I remember just smiling, both out of smugness and a bit of embarrassment. Yes, my ridiculous rap tactic had paid off!
I realized that I wasn’t actually uncomfortable at all and that I felt quite at ease talking with Elizabeth about everything from the company’s goals to how she had gotten to where she is today. Looking back now, I realized that this was a key trait within itself, the fact that I was able to juggle so much in such a short period. A true Internet marketer is able to balance multiple clients, with multiple projects, with multiple deadlines. It requires you to be able to think on your feet and take whatever is handed to you and make it all look easy (most of the time).
Be a leader
While chatting with our senior content strategist, Isla McKetta, about our mutual love of writing and nerding out over literature, I got so caught up in talking with her about everything an English major only dreams of that I nearly forgot I was even in an interview. Out of excitement, I began to dominate the conversation and only after remembering I was, in fact, being interviewed, was I able to control myself and slow down.
After being hired, however, I realized that being intellectually curious and leading the conversation may not necessarily have been a bad thing. I have learned that in order to be successful, you must know when to stop following and take the lead. You have to be able to look just far enough ahead and trust yourself to really take the reins to get the job done. Although this tactic can be risky – especially if it is on a big project – it can pay off with incredible results. In my case, it resulted in landing my dream job.
Oftentimes though, what it really comes down to is a little bit of luck. Yes, the hard work and the drive and the preparation and the knowledge all have to be there, but sometimes just being in the right place at the right time is what it takes to get the job done.
Our clients want to achieve the virality equal to that of Grumpy Cat and while we can do everything possible to facilitate that, we can’t always guarantee success. Sometimes we need a little bit of luck from the Internet gods. This is evident in that yes, I may have had ten freshly printed copies of my resume (because you never know when you will need eight extras), and I met the necessary requirements for the position and worked hard as hell to get there, but I truly think I owe getting my job here to a wonderful pup named Space.
After being passed to the content team, content strategist Rebecca Bridge casually mentioned something about Space as we walked down the hall. “Space? As in THE Shiba-Inu that inspired my sister and her husband to get their own, that Space??” I asked as I trailed behind her and Isla to the conference room. “Um, yeah that’s my dog…” Rebecca replied.
I had failed to make this connection previously but I had already fallen in love with Space long before I ever arrived for my interview that day. My brother-in-law happened to work with Rebecca’s boyfriend and as a result, had been called upon for dog-sitting duty when they were out of town for the weekend. It was this one seemingly minor detail that played a pivotal role in not only getting my interview, but probably also for ultimately getting the job. This small bit of luck sealed the deal and combined with all of my awkward laughing, question-answering and hoop-jumping, paid off in a big way.
So thanks, Space. Without you, I wouldn’t be here at Portent to share my self-proclaimed “wise words” about what it takes to be an Internet Marketer with the World Wide Web. I couldn’t have done it without ya, buddy!
Madelaine is a Junior Social Strategist at Portent, Inc. A recent graduate from the University of Washington, Madelaine helps establish and maintain client social platforms while tracking and analyzing their social marketing as a whole. She likes puppies.