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October 05, 2015
By Kelly Cooper Niles


We’ve all been there. You submit your resume for a job you’re absolutely sure you’re absolutely perfect for … and you never get a call for an interview. Or you walk out of an interview thinking, “Nailed it!”… and you don’t get an offer.

Not getting a job you really want, well, stinks. What’s worse? Not knowing why. Every week TEKsystems Digital and Creative account managers and recruiters talk with hundreds of hiring managers across the country. Through these conversations, they’ve gained insight into what employers want and why seemingly qualified candidates don’t get the job in the digital marketing and creative field. We hope this insight will help you be more self-aware, educated and prepared during your job search.

Cultural fit

“Most of the time, I hear the candidate isn’t a cultural fit,” says NYC Account Manager Jacob Reeves. Compared to more traditional technical roles, the digital marketing industry requires a more outgoing personality. Reeves says, “You can’t be a head-down doer. You need to be an active participant, bringing ideas and different experiences to the projects.”

Also, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Kansas City Account Manager Jonathon Sharlow says employers want “someone who plays well with others, loves to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other, and who they could see grabbing a beer with after work.” In a collaborative field where colleagues work closely together, having an easy-to-get-along-with personality goes far. Charlotte Recruiter Calli Trice concurs: “Personality is huge, especially for functional and strategic roles (e.g., online product manager, UX designer). [They] have to interface with several types of people, adapt to different personalities and be open-minded.”

Aligned experience

Seattle Account Manager Robby Vetter says, “The people that are getting hired are industry-specific.” Candidates with greater technical talent or experience are getting passed over for candidates who have worked in the same industry (e.g., ecommerce, finance, healthcare) as the hiring company, especially experience at a competitor. A shorter learning curve for industry jargon, compliance and landscape directly correlates to faster speed to productivity for a new hire.

Also, candidates from a different working environment than the hiring company sometimes have a harder time. Trice, who recruits for a lot of financial services clients, says her clients are looking for enterprise experience. She adds, “Particularly with UX positions, [my clients] don’t want someone from a small shop. They think the candidate might not be able to handle a large corporate company.”

Openness to learning

The digital landscape is ever-changing. What was a hot topic last year might not be a blip on the radar this year. The fluidity of the industry can both help and hurt candidates. It can help because digital and creative hiring managers are often more open to hiring candidates who don’t have experience in newer technologies. However, if you’re not open to (continually) learning on the job it can hurt your prospects.

Sharlow notes, “Companies have to—and want to—keep up; their people need to as well.” He advises, “Continue to be hungry and learn new things. Research the newest frameworks; look at blogs and what’s coming next. Companies love that.” Make sure you’re prepared and enthusiastic in discussing trends and emerging technologies. Even if you aren’t yet proficient in the technology, hiring managers appreciate that you keep current with the industry and are interested in testing and playing with new technologies.

Want more tips to improve your digital and creative job search? Read recruiters’ top tops for job hunters.

Learn more about how working with a digital and creative services recruiter can help you in your job search.

As a writer in TEKsystems’ marketing department, Kelly Cooper Niles develops content for brochures, presentations, and more recently, videos and blogs. When she’s not brainstorming puns, Kelly enjoys playing tennis and being by or on the water.

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