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Turning your side project into a new digital marketing career

April 18, 2017 | By Lisa Dare, TEKsystems Digital Content Strategist

young casual female writing on laptop in coffee shop

Thinking about changing careers? With digital marketing branching out into new directions quickly—from the growing popularity of UX design to newer roles like SEM analyst or bot developer—marketers have many alluring career paths.

But what if your job doesn’t offer you the chance to try new things? “Contract jobs can be a great way to turn your passion project into a marketable skill,” says Ellen Cleary, a digital recruiter for TEKsystems.

If you don’t have a robust portfolio that shows you have hands-on experience in your desired career, side projects can be a great way to build one. That might mean volunteering, taking freelance gigs or finding contract positions, says Cleary.

However, even if you’ve learned a new skill on your own time, most employers won’t hire someone who doesn’t have work experience in that domain. “Contract hiring tends to be a bit more flexible, so if you’re a visual designer looking to transition into UX design, for instance, a contract position can validate that skill,” says Cleary.

Kelly Sivright, a mobile recruiter, agrees. “We support clients who only want to see iOS developers with professional Swift experience. Lots of developers may have learned Swift but only have experience with it in independent projects. Employers strongly prefer to see professional hands-on experience, and contract positions can provide that.”

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Trying on new careers

If you’re not sure exactly where you belong, contracting can also help you decide on a new career path. “A lot of contractors end up being offered full-time positions after six months or so,” says Cleary. At that point, you can decide whether you’re interested in committing to that role or trying something else—without looking like a job hopper.

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