Most graduated college students, at one point or another, have encountered the following scenario; you’re applying to jobs, and your level of frustration steadily increases with each and every passing job listing. Why? Because regardless of whether the job you want is on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed, or any number of other job sites, it always seems like your dream entry-level job (if such a thing even exists) requires experience.
It’s a total Catch 22. You need internships and experience to get jobs, but a lot of internships and part-time jobs that would help get you that experience which you need, also require – you guessed it – experience.
This is truer in some industries more than others, and digital marketing isn’t by any means immune to the (at times arbitrary) requirements that employers subject their applicants to. Sometimes, you just flat out won’t have the experience necessary for that desired position.
In digital marketing, though, there are ways to demonstrate to your potential employer that you understand data analysis, different marketing channels, and ways you might integrate those into a very basic strategy. Not only does this show your aptitude for the field, but also your potential in it. This will help you stand out from other applicants and, in some cases, actually act as a small supplement for some of that tangible internship-type “experience” you may be lacking on your actual resume.
Specifically, I’m talking about three certification tests that every aspiring digital marketer should have under their belt: Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and HubSpot. Respectively, they act together to demonstrate a base-level aptitude for some of the most crucial aspects of digital marketing: your ability to manipulate data, think analytically, and formulate strategies.
Google AdWords Certification
Google offers an AdWords Fundamentals exam that essentially tests your basic knowledge of the AdWords platform, as well as more advanced exams through their Google Partners program for each of the different networks that marketers advertise on. This includes exams for:
- AdWords Fundamentals
- Advanced Search Advertising
- Advanced Display Advertising
- Video Advertising
- Shopping Advertising
- Mobile Advertising
In order to become “certified”, all a user needs to do is take the AdWords fundamentals exam, along with one other exam testing their knowledge of a network of their choosing, scoring higher than 80% on each. To make things easier, Google offers online study modules in the form of PDFs and video trainings, so that even if someone isn’t unbelievably familiar with the nature of AdWords, they have the opportunity to become at least familiar enough with the material to pass the exams.
A word to the wise – make sure that you are as prepared as possible for these tests before taking them. Read through the modules, do practice questions, and review your notes. I know this is test-taking 101, but Google’s tests are a bit tricky in the sense that if you achieve a score lower than 80%, you aren’t permitted to re-take the exam again for 7 days.
Why would they do this? The same reason professors in college give different versions of tests to their classes each semester – to prevent people from studying the exact answers to questions they know will be on the test. In the same way, to prevent test-takers from getting too familiar with the questions, Google swaps out the questions they use for each test every 7 days.
I personally would recommend taking the Fundamentals exam and the Advanced Search Advertising exam to get your certification, since the majority of the material that is covered on the Advanced Search exam is also covered on the Fundamentals exam.
Google Analytics Individual Certification
Google Analytics, if you aren’t familiar with it already, is tool that links directly to the back-end of a website, and offers extremely accurate and in-depth insights as to the nature of who is using the site, on what device, and where they came from. Creepy right? There is an absolute myriad of data segments and different types of analyses you can conduct with all this information – so naturally, Google created a certification test for it.
The Google Analytics Individual Qualification – or GAIQ – tests your knowledge of not only the technical nature of navigating the interface, but how to think analytically about the data you need, and how to interpret it.
This might be the most universally applicable certification to try and obtain. In digital marketing, it isn’t only important to demonstrate how effective your marketing channel of expertise is, but it is also important to have a firm understanding of how that channel is affecting site traffic and usership in other areas as well. Google Analytics is the best tool to highlight this, because it tracks every source of site traffic, and accentuates how those sources are cooperating with one another towards a client’s over-arching business goals.
I can’t stress it enough – learn Google Analytics if nothing else. It sets you apart from other applicants in an increasingly data-driven and insights-oriented industry.
HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketer Certification
HubSpot is an inbound marketing software platform. Inbound marketing is the exact opposite of traditional marketing methodologies that advocate for you to reach out to your prospects. With inbound marketing, you attract your prospects – hence the name “inbound marketing”.
HubSpot helps achieves this, among other things, by integrating SEO, Blogging, Marketing Automation, Social Media, Landing Pages, Analytics, Email marketing, and Websites to create an inbound marketing funnel designed to turn leads into clients.
The Inbound Marketer certification that is offered through the HubSpot academy helps you, as a job applicant and prospective digital marketer, think strategically about how to integrate your marketing efforts. This is a train of thought that is essential for success in the digital marketing industry. Digital is an industry that is getting more complex and innovative by the day, so the strategies and efforts that go along with it must as well.
Just like Analytics and AdWords, HubSpot has an entire course dedicated to teaching you the ins and outs of developing a basic inbound marketing strategy, as well as giving you a basic understanding of the efforts that go into it.
Getting this certification would not only showcase your work ethic and desire to learn about marketing strategy, but your versatility and holistic understanding of the digital landscape as well. Get on it!
While nothing ever speaks to your capabilities quite like job experience, taking these certifications can really make you stand out from the rest of an applicant pool for a job in digital. Hunting for a job is always an intimidating prospect to say the least, and when you start you’re going to want every possible tool in your belt at your disposal, especially in a field as technically oriented and analytical as digital marketing. Don’t be subject to the competition of a growing industry, take action to make yourself stand out!