MIMA held the first of its semi-annual career development series May 4. Modern Career Development, at Horizontal Integration covered the burgeoning career possibilities in digital marketing. The panel explored the options while Horizontal Integration provided headshots, resume feedback and refreshment.
Arik Hanson, Principal of ACH Communications
Arik spoke about his transition to freelancing from his career on the agency side.
- 35% of workforce are freelancers now, it is expected to be 50% by 2020.
What do you need to consider before you make the leap to consulting?
- Everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing. It is ok to hear them out, however you are a unique blend of talents. You need to make the final decision on what is right for you.
- No need to spend lots of time on a complicated business plan. Arik used a simple one-page business plan and found it worked just as well as the more complicated options.
- You need to be a people person – a network of 500 quality contacts is the minimum number you’ll need to generate word-of-mouth referrals.
- Passion for all things business is a requirement. You’ll be doing most tasks yourself. Blog posts, podcasts, masterminds, public speaking and consistent networking, as well as bookkeeping and other mundane tasks, are all part of the mix of going solo.
- Going solo is going SOLO. It is a lonely existence, most often you’ll find yourself working from a kitchen table while everyone else is at a day job.
- Fame and other high-profile recognition is probably out of reach. Most entrepreneurs are not eligible for the big industry awards. You’ll need to be comfortable in your own skin.
Holly Spaeth, Director, Digital Marketing, Polaris Industries
Holly worked at agencies until she made the move to corporate at Polaris Industries. Holly believes the questions you ask in the job hunt are critical to your career success. A lot of job seekers think if they go for an agency, they can drink on the job and wear jeans. Meanwhile, if they pick corporate, their hours will be better. Holly has known of some straight-laced agencies with work-life balance and corporations which require long hours. Instead ask these questions:
- What is the culture I am seeking?
- What is the size of the company where I’d be comfortable?
- What am I going to be doing day in and day out?
- Will this job be a short-term gig for a learning experience or a longer term one?
In addition to asking great questions of yourself, make sure you network wisely. Invite people to coffee, ask them why they are staying at the company you want to work for, ask about the culture and what it is like. Dig deeper.
One last piece of advice – don’t get title hungry or scared off by years of experience requirements. If the job description and research leaves you wanting to work for the company, apply. HR departments and hiring managers don’t always know what they want until they see who applies.
Danny Olson, Senior Vice President, Digital, Weber Shandwick NA
Danny started in corporate and recently moved to agency side. He agreed with Holly that agency and corporate is not enough of an indicator of culture. Weber Shandwick is a global company with a big reach. These are the questions you might want to ask yourself when looking at the traditional agency culture:
- Am I ready to be challenged? The agency and client are solving problems at every moment so this is not a regular 9-5. If the client is working, so are you.
- Are you comfortable with drinking, jeans and being invited to “optional” happy hours or events that aren’t truly optional? Are you OK with not having a choice in that?
- Are you OK with the job after the job? You’ll have your client service with billable hours and then you’ll need to secure new business and lead a team. This is non-billable but you still need to be available.
- You’ll be living your life in 15-minute increments – client projects are billable in increments of time and you’ll need to keep detailed records for time sheets of every detail of your day.
- You are tasked with thinking three years ahead for clients. You work on projects that are in front of you and you’ll need to be in touch with future planning by being on the forefront of latest industry developments.
Crystal Grobe, Brand Consultant & Talent Connector
Crystal shared with attendees what it takes to build a modern career in digital marketing. A career today can be anything you want. Crystal develops content for her job during the day, and in the evening, she does social media for small businesses and writes a food blog. Right now, unemployment is low in Minnesota. Companies are competing for talent and there are plenty of opportunities for freelancing. The top suggestions Crystal has for job seekers:
- Update all your profiles – LinkedIn, portfolios, social media.
- Grow your network.
- Go to events and gatherings (like MIMAs workshops and events). Have coffee with key contacts and learn as much as you can about companies and the industry.
- Build your skills and listen to what companies need — what are the business problems? Plan to fill those needs.
- Five Minute Favors – if a networking contact needs your time, and you can give them five-minutes – do it. Build those relationships and become indispensable to others.
Crystal suggests job seekers really think about what they want their future to look like. If they dislike their job now, are there any changes they could make to get what they want in their current company? Make considered choices if you decide to move on for career advancement. Negotiate – vacation days, flexibility and ask for new projects that build your career.