So you want to work for a digital agency? – Tips on how to get there

Written by Neisha Glen - June 2, 2020

Have you always had your heart set on working at a digital agency? Whether it be a design, development, project management or admin role, there are lots of ways to get into, and work your way up in this fantastic sector. 

Applying for a job is a time consuming process, regardless of the amount of effort you put into your application. So why not check out some tips from the person who reviews applications here at Wholegrain Digital, to help you make yours really stand out.

laptop, resumè and pen on desk

Laptop, pen and clipboard. The perfect set up to ensure you submit a great application.

Essentials of a good application:

1. Check the agency’s website for open positions

There’s nothing worse than reviewing an application where someone has sent a generic CV and cover letter, that has been used to apply for hundreds of different positions. This type of standardised cover letter generally explains how much the applicant wants to work for a digital agency and details their skills, only to finish with the question that seals their fate… Do you have any open positions? 

If you are genuinely interested in working for a digital agency and have been following them for some time, it may be beneficial to sign up to their newsletter (if they have one), follow their social media accounts, or at the very least check out their careers page before applying for a role. If the role you’re interested in is currently advertised then of course, go ahead and submit an application. If you haven’t seen a particular role but really would like to work for the agency, then it is always worth mentioning that you’ve looked at the website and seen that there aren’t currently any vacancies, but you’re still super keen to work with them and you’re submitting an application anyway. You never know, HR might be right in the middle of drafting up a new job description.

2. Do your research

Reading the job description in full goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people only read the job title and then get caught out when I ask simple questions like, “have you worked with WordPress before?” We’re a WordPress agency, so for most of our roles, you would need to have experience of WordPress. Of course we are always happy to offer further training to those who want to learn more, but as a start you should at least know what WordPress is.

Look up the company values, what’s important to them? What type of clients do they work with? Can you see yourself working in a remote team when you really like an office environment? If you can’t honestly see yourself working there, you may want to consider whether it’s worth the effort of applying. Equally, if you’ve done your research and thought to yourself, “yes! I have to work here”, then make sure you’ve done your research on who to address your application to. In most cases, the Managing Director isn’t the person that’s reviewing your application. Which leads me nicely onto tailoring your application.

3. Tailor your application

Sometimes, you can’t find all the information you need on the company website to be able to tailor your application well. What better way to find out what you need to know than by giving them a call? You’ll be able to find out exactly who you need to send your application to, and they’ll know who you are when you actually submit your application. You may even find you make a good first impression on the phone when you call. Win, win!

If you do know who to address your application to, ensure that you have read the job description and are addressing the company’s key criteria in your cover letter. Demonstrate how you fit the company values, or better yet how you live the values in your day-to-day life. This helps to inject some personality into your application, and a little humour can go a long way.

4. Go above and beyond

Step one of achieving this is to ensure that you have included everything the agency has asked for in your application. If they’ve asked for a CV, cover letter and portfolio, make sure you submit these as part of your application at the very least. I’m often reviewing quite a few applications for any given job, so applications that are visually appealing really do stand out from the crowd. If you’re applying for a design position, why not demonstrate some of your design skills through your typography choice on your CV? My favourite application that I’ve reviewed to date is one from our current Project Coordinator. Nicole submitted a PDF booklet about herself that was presented like a story that highlighted her achievements in a visually appealing way. You could see just how much effort went into her application, and that went a long way. She even brought us in bound versions for her in person interview!

If you happen to have been working in the digital industry for a while, you’ll probably already have a solid online presence. Do use this, and ensure it is up to date. It’s also always helpful to link to some of your work that may not necessarily be in your portfolio, such as talks you’ve given at events such as WordCamps, any relevant volunteering you’ve done in the industry along with any training that you may have facilitated. This is a great way to demonstrate your interest in the digital sector.

5. Have a solid online presence

It’s pretty common these days for companies to ‘Google’ you. Especially being in the digital industry, you could say that I’ve become somewhat of a Googling expert. It’s essential that you have a solid online presence if you’re trying to apply for a role in the digital field.

Keeping this short and sweet, here are a few essentials:

  • Have a LinkedIn profile and keep it up to date. It’s essentially the Facebook of the careers world!
  • Make sure all of your public social media accounts have a professional picture and bio. If there’s anything you don’t want your prospective employer to see, make sure it’s private
  • If you have a personal website, make sure it’s up to date, live and doesn’t have any bugs
  • Make sure your website design and build is up-to-date with industry standards
  • Make sure you have an online portfolio that demonstrates your work to date
  • If you don’t have an online presence, it will be a good idea to change this, and rather quickly!

6. Proofread your application

I don’t know how to emphasise this enough! Proofread, proofread, proofread! Running your application through a general spell check is a great place to start. Once you’ve done that, it’s also really helpful if you can have someone else read over your application too. Often, you’ve been staring at it for so long that you may have missed a minor mistake, which could cost you.

7. Follow up!

Agency life is all about ebbs and flows and that also transfers over to the recruitment side of things. If you haven’t heard anything back in a little while, then do follow up. Your application may have been lost in a sea of other emails. Better yet, if you give the agency a call and remind them how keen you are to work at the company, I’m sure you’ll get a response in no time.

Are you looking for a role in a Digital Agency?

I hope this post has given you some simple tips to help improve and tailor your application to a digital agency specific role. If you’re looking for a role, we have a few opportunities open over on our careers page. We look forward to seeing some of your original applications soon.