Expert Advice to Help You Land Your First Job in Digital Marketing

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Expert Advice to Help You Land Your First Job in Digital Marketing

The marketing field is versatile, exciting, and innovative due to its inherent need for flexibility. The rise of digital marketing means that agencies need to adapt to rapid changes in trends, emerging platforms, and forms of media.

People of various talents find their niche in marketing, and you could certainly be one of them. If you want to start your marketing career at a digital marketing agency but don’t know where to start, we’ve got some great tips to keep you informed, have your CV up to scratch and land the perfect job.

Investigate Different Digital Marketing Career Paths

Marketing is a multi-faceted field, with many different roles to consider for your digital marketing career. 

Email marketing, brand management, account management, copywriting and social media marketing are just a few of the many entry-level jobs that could be available to you.

Here’s what some entry-level marketing jobs entail:


A copywriter is different from a content writer in that they write for marketing purposes, whereas content writers often just intend to be amusing or informative. 

A copywriter can be employed by a digital marketing agency or freelance for themselves. Copywriters use tried and tested methods and formulas to encourage people to buy certain products or services. Copywriters can create anything from short-form content in social media posts to long-form long content such as blog posts and website articles.

Account Manager

An account manager is a key component of any digital marketing agency and ensures that the needs of clients and customers are met timeously. Account managers deal with customer complaints, find solutions to issues and coordinate digital marketing agency departments. Skills necessary for this line of work include strong interpersonal communication, problem-solving and organisational skills.

Social Media Assistant

A social media assistant delivers marketing campaigns across various social media platforms and is responsible for tracking their progress, interacting with followers, and making every effort to grow their digital marketing agency’s client base. A large portion of the job comprises administrative and clerical support.

Sales Associate

In this role, you would be responsible for making direct sales for a digital marketing agency by approaching companies and customers with information and incentives to buy products or services. This requires confidence in phone calls and face-to-face interactions. As with any other client-facing job, this role necessitates top-notch social skills.

Various other roles may be accessible to you as well, such as PR, web development and SEO. However, suppose you aren’t sure which aspect of marketing intrigues you the most. In that case, you can always approach companies and express an interest in a hybrid or generalist role to help determine where you’d like to go next. 

This can be a plus for any digital marketing agency looking to hire, as marketing is rapidly changing. Someone interested in a flexible job role is more likely to be adaptable as the marketing world shifts and the company expands.

Keep Up With Digital Marketing Trends

Keep an eye on marketing trends and what successful businesses want to do with their latest marketing campaigns. This will help you differentiate between marketing do’s and don’ts, decide what you’re drawn to, and give you valuable insight into which companies you’d prefer to work for. 

Plus, demonstrating to a digital marketing agency that you are knowledgeable about marketing strategies and campaigns will give you an edge that other applicants might not have.  

If you’re interested in digital marketing, follow Google closely, and pay attention to algorithm updates or SEO changes. Changes in the industry can be sudden, and businesses with employees who know how to adapt accordingly are more likely to thrive. For regular, relevant updates on other aspects of the marketing world, use Google Alerts and be notified about new publications on any topic you flag. Read ShiftONE’s blog for relevant updates on digital marketing, social media trends, and other marketing-related news.

Networking In the Digital Marketing Space

Digital marketing is a rapidly expanding field, and actively connecting with people in the industry will help you understand more about what you’re getting yourself into and how to prepare for job interviews. Nobody knows the pros and cons of digital marketing better than someone already in it. There may be downsides to working with certain companies or in roles not suited to you. Filter out other employees’ experiences at each digital marketing agency to make well-informed decisions and avoid any unpleasant surprises. 

This may require you to use your social skills and enquire about your best friend’s dad’s job as a UX designer or your aunt’s experiences as a copy editor. These conversations can be formal or informal and don’t always have to be extensive – the slightest bit of reliable intel can make all the difference. Along the way, you may even encounter someone who can offer you the perfect job.

Top Tip: Practice your Elevator Pitch

An ‘elevator pitch’ is a concise, persuasive summary of what you do, what your values are and what makes you different from everyone else and could help you immensely in your marketing career.

It’s called an ‘elevator pitch’ because it is meant to be brief enough that you can recite it during a 30-second elevator ride. The goal is to spark interest and start a conversation that could help you network and open doors to new opportunities. 

If you’ve got a bold idea for a marketing campaign and a company you’ve been dreaming of working for, there’s no shame in practising your elevator pitch. 

You might end up in a room with someone of interest to you at a digital marketing agency, and having your thoughts in order may help you grab their attention.

Research Your Digital Marketing Career Path

Alongside your social sleuthing, investigate companies you may be interested in starting a marketing career with online. 

As an aspiring employee, the positive indicators you’re looking for are similar to that of a client. If a digital marketing agency has a good reputation, a satisfied client base and a great brand image, they will likely be worthwhile working with. 

Here are some steps to help you determine which digital marketing agency fits you:

  • Check out their website. Is it well-built and user-friendly? Does it make a great first impression? If the digital marketing agency you’re looking at is an integrated digital marketing agency, one of the services they likely offer is web design. Their website can be a good way to gauge their work’s quality.
  • Seek out testimonials and reviews from clients and prior employees. Customer feedback will help you see whether the digital marketing agency is reliable, which can indicate how organised or disorganised they are and how stressful your job may be. Furthermore, look for online feedback from employees who have worked at the company for insider information.
  • If you choose to apply for a position, gauge their interest in you throughout the interview process. A large, reputable digital marketing agency may be more dismissive and less interested in your personal needs. In contrast, smaller agencies still establishing themselves are likely to pay more attention to you as an individual. However, this is not necessarily a rule of thumb. Pay careful attention to how you are treated from the get-go, as this can set the tone for your working relationship.

If you’re having doubts about a digital marketing agency, remember that there are other ways to start marketing besides finding a job immediately. These include freelancing, finding an internship and offering your services to reputable companies and start-ups pro bono, but more on this later!

Expand your Digital Marketing Skillset.

Taking the right classes online can prepare you for the workplace without investing in an expensive college degree to bridge your knowledge gap. Marketing-specific courses on sites like Udemy and Domestika are easily accessible with a reliable internet connection. 

Courses are usually a few hundred rands each; however, many of them are available for free. These educational resources can vastly improve your knowledge, prepare you for your future job and help you demonstrate a passion for marketing in an interview. ShiftONE is a South African digital marketing agency offering free digital marketing courses to get you started. Different courses are accessible on YouTube, Facebook or Google Garage. These YouTube courses are ideal for helping you get started at a digital marketing agency:

Sign up to Google Garage for free access to in-depth courses with modules, exercises and official certificates provided upon completion. Some of the free courses provided by ShiftONE and Google Garage include the following:

The value of being proactive and educating yourself about your marketing role of choice cannot be emphasised enough. 

An autodidactic and driven employee is an invaluable asset to any company, and proving yourself knowledgeable and interested in learning further will set you apart from other applicants.

Gain Digital Marketing Experience

Digital marketing experience can provide you with diverse skills and open up opportunities in various industries. It can also help you stand out as a job candidate and develop valuable skills in high demand.


Look for freelance opportunities and internships to help you gain experience, and don’t be afraid to create your digital marketing content. You can understand what successful marketing entails by marketing your creations online, creating a blog and hosting and advertising events. If you’re an aspiring copywriter, freelance opportunities can be difficult to find unless you already have a reputation for your work. If you’re a new writer looking to freelance, you can bid online on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or PeoplePerHour. Send out pitches daily and remain determined – success seldom happens overnight.

Become an Intern

Being an intern at a digital marketing agency can be a good start to getting hands-on experience. The experience can be invaluable, contribute to an outstanding resume and pave the way for future opportunities.If you prove to be an asset to the company you’re interning for, they may even hire you full-time. Look out for opportunities to get your foot in the door on LinkedIn, Indeed and Careers24.

Top Tip: Exercise Caution on Gumtree

Many employers who underpay or have questionable start-up business models tend to put listings on sites like Gumtree. While you may find great opportunities on this site, it is best to exercise caution.

Volunteer Your Digital Marketing Work

Finding the right opportunities to gain experience at a digital marketing agency is challenging. Searching for internships and freelance opportunities is a minefield and can take several months. With South Africa’s unemployment rate expected to reach  35.6% in 2023, trying to get your foot in the door and land the perfect job isn’t necessarily the best strategy.

Consider This:

Approach several top brands and ask if you can work for them for free. Ask the top marketing agency to brief you or create your social posts or content and offer up your work to them, free of charge. This will get you noticed and help you build a reputation beyond your portfolio. 

Instead of going to a creative director and simply asking for a job at a digital marketing agency, this is an assertive way for you to prove your worth by demonstrating the quality of your work. 

This is especially useful if you’re more introverted or have more confidence in your work than yourself during interpersonal interactions.

Although working for free for a digital marketing agency might seem like a waste of time, gifting your work to reputable brands ultimately gives you the upper hand. Instead of exclusively having a portfolio to show to digital marketing agencies during interviews, you would have real work with your name to reinforce your value. Harnessing the power of successful brands in this manner could help you climb the corporate ladder faster, landing a job that pays you better than any internship.

Therefore, pro-bono work for large, well-established companies stands to benefit you the most in the long run.

Benefit from Your Generosity

While reaching out to big brands reinforces your worth as an employee, gifting your work to smaller businesses, NPOs, and start-ups can be rewarding in an entirely different way. After the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, which has only recently begun to subside, many businesses are struggling due to a lull in demand for their products and services. 

Giving to a struggling digital marketing agency can be emotionally and spiritually rewarding and serves as a good reminder that there are actual people behind these businesses with goals and challenges of their own.Rather than becoming lost in the corporate world and consumed exclusively by the desire for financial gain, consider the importance of generosity and its impact on those around you.

The versatility of marketing makes it an exciting field to go into. Starting at a digital marketing agency doesn’t have to be an uphill battle for you or anyone else. 

There are various marketing career paths to consider. By thoroughly researching different companies and the particulars of different roles, you can better determine what you want to gain from your work experience. 

However, if you’re uncertain of the direction you want to go, marketing is ideal due to its ever-changing nature. Numerous companies often offer more flexible general positions and hybrid roles. 

By researching, networking, and actively expanding your skillset, you stand a better chance of landing your ideal job at a digital marketing agency off the bat. But don’t be afraid to offer up your work pro-bono to large successful companies and smaller start-ups because having your work out there is more admirable than any portfolio. 

Your generosity with your work ultimately benefits you the most, strengthening your reputation and giving you the advantage of knowing you have experience.

ShiftONE A World-class Digital Marketing Agency

To learn more about the marketing world and perhaps land your ideal job at a digital marketing agency, see which career opportunities are available via our website or contact ShiftONE today. We have a passionate, close-knit team of employees, and we’d love for you to join us.


Ready to start innovating your brand with us?

Get in touch now.