You’re probably miserable, uninspired and frustrated at your current career as a digital marketer either due to unmatched salary expectations or poor working conditions.
I get it because I was once a digital marketer and quickly got burnt out from clients who weren’t willing to pay me my worth.
I had enough and changed my career to become a Business Analyst. Now, I earn 100% more than what I earned as a Digital Marketer and I am much happier.
In this article, I discuss seven practical steps you can take to help you successfully transition from a digital marketing career.
The steps are:
- Research alternate careers for Digital Marketers and select one
- Speak to other professionals with a similar background
- Acquire foundational knowledge and get qualified
- Identify and package your transferrable skills
- Evaluate and reframe your work experience
- Acquire new work experience
- Update your professional assets
I explain each one of these steps in further detail below:
#1. Research Alternate Careers for A Digital Marketer and Select One.
If you’ve decided that you want to change careers the first thing you need to do is look for other career opportunities that you may be interested in.
But before looking at other career options it’s important to ask yourself what it is you would really like to do?
A helpful way to answer this question is by asking yourself why you want to leave digital marketing.
Are you feeling burnt out? Do you hate having to constantly hit targets? Your answer will help you figure out what it is you’re looking for in a new career.
Highlighting your interests, wants and needs will help you narrow down your list when you’re researching other career paths.
You can even take a career quiz or personality test to help narrow down your list of options.
But as a Digital Marketer, you have multiple career options available to you and each of the ones listed below are skills that you have experience in as a Digital Marketer;
- Business Analyst: This is my favourite. As a Business Analyst, you’re responsible for translating requirements between the business and technology and vice-versa.
When I discovered this and saw how much they got paid, I had a lightbulb moment! Why? Because as you know, this is exactly what you do as a Digital Marketer in various capacities.
Here I document my transition journey to becoming a Business Analyst and share practical steps that can help you.
- Product Manager: Product Managers are responsible for understanding customer problems and creating products and solutions to solve the problems.
They work with cross-functional teams from Data, to design, to developers to build and test solutions to customer problems.
- Campaign Management: These professionals are responsible for supervising the execution of marketing campaigns to ensure their success.
- Copywriting: Copywriters use text to advertise the products or services of an organization.
- Data Analyst: These are people who gather, clean, and study data sets to help solve problems. They work in many industries, including business, finance, criminal justice, science, medicine, and government.
- Social Media Manager: Social media managers are in charge of a company’s social media marketing and advertising.
A lot of social media managers already utilize digital marketing when planning and executing campaigns, meaning this is yet another role an experienced digital marketer can thrive.
- Marketing Analyst: These researchers use market data to help businesses make informed decisions about the market.
- Brand Strategists: They analyze data concerning market trends and help to develop marketing plans and enhance a brands message.
#2. Speak to other Professionals With Similar Backgrounds.
When changing careers, it’s important to take advantage of any networking opportunities available to you.
Speaking to other professionals with a similar background to yours is a great way to network.
Learning about how other professionals in the industry you’re hoping to work in were able to get in will help you to know what the right steps to take are.
Finding other previous marketers who have successfully transitioned to entirely new careers will also be very helpful.
Finding these professionals may not be easy for everybody, but here are some good places to start;
- Facebook groups: You can use Facebook’s search function to find groups of people in your industry.
Once you’ve joined one of the groups, begin participating by asking questions. Group members are usually willing to share advice.
- LinkedIn: Millions of professionals use LinkedIn and just like Facebook the platform has a search option that makes it easier to find said professionals effortlessly.
You can search according to job titles, positions, industries and even particular companies.
Once you’ve found a professional with a similar background to yours you can try connecting with them and politely sending them a message explaining your intentions.
- Forums: There are many professional communities on forums like Quora and Reddit that are filled with people willing to answer any questions you may have.
Try posting a question and reaching out to anyone that replies.
#3. Build Foundational Knowledge and Get Qualified
Building foundational knowledge on the skills and traits you’ll need to be successful in your new career should be the next step in your action plan.
For example, working as a campaign manager requires a lot of research and trend analysis.
A person that’s interested in pursuing that career should ask themselves if they are any good at either of those things, and if they’re not they need to learn these skills fast.
How does this apply to you and a career change?
The odds that you’ll find a new career with requirements and experiences that exactly match those that you’re bringing from marketing is low.
This is where building your foundational knowledge and getting qualified comes in.
This may be through acquiring more work experience in that particular field, enrolling on classes or taking professional certification courses.
Building your foundational knowledge on the field you hope to get into and aligning your skills, experience and qualification with what is required will bring you up to date for your new career.
#4. Identify and Package your Transferrable Skills
The next tip I have for you is to take a moment to identify the transferrable skills you have and can easily bring with you to a new career.
These transferrable skills will show you as a fully rounded individual who will add value to an organization apart from just carrying out your job description to the tee.
These talents and skills of yours can easily act as selling points for other careers and can easily increase your value to potential employers as well.
Let’s look at easily transferrable skills that Digital marketers of all kind can use in other professions;
- Communication skills: Marketers use verbal instructions and persuasiveness to network. Communication is a core skill that is needed in every industry and will give you a good foundation for your new career.
- Problem Solving Skills: A big part of marketing also involves handling the complaints and queries that customers may have in line with products, quality, or even delivery. Problem-solving is a skill that can be transferred to any other profession.
- Negotiation Skills: Marketers always use their negotiation skills in order to close deals. An example of another profession that will value this skill is real estate.
- Team work, creativity, innovation, relationship building, thinking on your feet, and interpersonal skills are also transferrable skills that can be utilized in a lot of other professions.
- Stakeholder management skills: As a Digital Marketer, you have skills that involve managing and maintaining good relationships with multiple stakeholders. This is a very valuable skill for any career.
#5. Evaluate and Reframe Your Work Experience
Reframing your work experience highlights those relevant experiences to your new chosen career path.
It is important to stress that this isn’t falsifying your experience. It highlights relevant experience in your current or previous roles and reframing them to fit your new chosen industry position.
Reframing your work experience helps justify and amplify your skills to make you the best fit for the position.
For example, if an employer is looking for a real estate agent, you may never have worked as one but as a marketer you will have had experience negotiating with people in order to close deals.
You can point out how your experience is similar to that of a real estate agent and show how valuable this experience will be for the role.
#6. Acquire New Work Experience.
In tip 3 I talked about building on your foundational knowledge and how it is very necessary when transitioning to a new career.
A great way to build on your foundational knowledge is by acquiring new work experience in the new field you hope to work in.
After all reframing, your work experience can only do so much without actually having any relevant work experience to even reframe.
Some ways to acquire new work experience include;
- Volunteering: You can ask for permission to shadow professionals and help in any minor tasks they may have.
You will be able to build your network, pad up your resume, and shadowing a professional in the field you’ve chosen will give you an inside look into the industry.
- Working on other company projects: For example, if you’re hoping to transition to a human resource role, you can volunteer to assist in projects the HR department of your organization may have.
This will help you develop your skills and may even open an opportunity for you in the company you already work at.
- Work on side projects: Working on side projects can help you build up a work portfolio. It could be a business idea you’ve always had or a family member’s project. It could be something as simple a website for a hubby.
#7. Update Your Professional Brand Assets.
At this point, you have all the ingredients required to build and update your professional brand assets.`
Your professional brand assets are your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and your personal website.
I call them professional brand assets because they are resources that you own and control that are able to provide you with a future economic benefit i.e. a salary.
Building and polishing these professional assets will position you and make you attractive to recruiters and hiring managers.
- Your CV/Resume: Take all your newly acquired knowledge, skills, and experience and include them in your resume in a way that fits the requirements of a computer programmer.
Analyse at least ten job descriptions of your chosen career path. Review the section that says ‘your responsibilities’ or says ‘in this role, we are looking for….’
This is essentially the business telling you what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. Analysing 10-15 vacancies will uncover some patterns and keywords.
Ensure these keywords are featured on your CV/Resume.
Pro tip: Matching your CV/resume to actual job roles is a great way to get through the ATS (Application Tracking System) system.
Your CV is an effective way to show employers how you will be a great asset for the position you’re applying for.
- Your LinkedIn Profile: Most recruiters and hiring managers use Linkedin to fill job positions. Actually, Over 90% of them do this!
At the very minimum, make sure the information on your Linkedin profile matches what is on your CV.
Connect with recruiters and follow mentors and new colleagues on Linkedin.
Optimise the headline section of your profile by listing major skills that will be required in your new profession.
Also, optimise the summary section of your profile by highlighting your work experience, certifications, technical skills, and expertise.
- Your Personal Websites: Your personal website gives you the opportunity to show your work rather than just talk about it.
In today’s competitive employment market, job searchers must do all they can to differentiate themselves from the competition, and having a personal website is one of the most effective methods to do so.
I believe in the philosophy of showing, not telling. As a programmer, you should have a portfolio where anybody can experience your work.
I suggest you include your website or portfolio link in your CV.
Bonus Tip: Take Action.
Now that you’ve drafted out an amazing action plan and gotten the planning part out of the way, the only thing left for you to do is to actually start putting in the action in action plan.
Put your plan into motion, but also be patient with yourself. It’s important to know that no shortcuts exist, take small steps even if they are imperfect ones.
And although talking to other professionals with similar backgrounds may yield a lot of help and advice, remember that your journey is unique to you and does not need to go exactly like it went for other people.
Changing careers can be a difficult thing to do, but with the right tools and attitude, you can make it happen! The eight tips in this article are tested and proven when making the action plan that’ll you’ll need to make this career change a successful one for you.
Do some research into what careers best fit your experience, skills, personal needs and wants. Network with professionals who have a similar background as you, and build on your foundational knowledge by acquiring more work experience, skills and qualifications you’ll need for your new role.
Update your professional brand assets to align with the new career you’ve decided to pursue and market yourself as a perfect candidate for roles in your new career path.
There are many opportunities out there open to people with backgrounds in marketing, the key is finding these opportunities and equipping yourself with all the experience, skills and qualifications that are sure to make you a perfect “shoe in” for the role.