Many people aim too low when planning the next steps for their careers says Paolo Pironi, founder of Digital Careers Hub, as they mentally rule themselves out of jobs which they’re perfectly qualified for. In this piece, Pironi gives five tips for identifying the best next steps for your career and navigating the changing job market. Digital Careers Hub is a London-based career mentoring program through which aims to help clients get more senior roles in the tech sector.
2020 promises to be a year of continued disruption and consolidation, providing opportunities for some and challenges for others in the job market. However, with video and OTT advertising poised for further growth in 2020, this could be the perfect year for you to take your career to the next level in this space. If you have mastered your craft and have become very skilled at managing client relations and technical solutions, you may want to become a manager. Or if you’ve been a successful manager for a long time, perhaps you’re ready for your first directorship.
Whatever career move you’re eyeing next, here are my five steps for identifying and landing your ideal role in 2020.
1. Identify what type of role you’re ready for (it’s probably more senior than you think!)
When browsing job boards, it’s sometimes difficult to identify which roles are suitable for you and which are out of your reach. One way to do this is “scorecarding”, where you give yourself a simple “pass” or “fail” mark for each of the role’s requirements.
You don’t need a perfect score to apply for a role. Some requirements are of course non-negotiable, such as previous sales experience for a sales director role. But don’t assume that the people who penned the job description meant everything they wrote. Sometimes they will find themselves with a pool of candidates who tick just seven out of ten boxes on the job description, and they will happily hire one of those. So if you don’t apply for jobs where you score eight or nine out of ten, you’ll miss out on positions you could have landed.
Interestingly, when my clients do this exercise, they frequently realise that they had been selling themselves short and that they can aspire for more senior roles than they believed possible. As Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
2. Select the right company
Alongside the role itself, the company that you join can make or break your career ambitions. With the video and OTT markets consolidating, it’ll be the companies with the best tech who are well placed to thrive, so you should look for companies who are investing in the most promising technology.
At the moment, look for companies investing in connected TV, contextual and other targeting solutions that don’t depend on cookies, S2S mediation, social and online-centric video creative, and other trends that Adtech CEOs predict will shape the year ahead. Companies at the forefront of innovation will both be stable enough for you to build your career within them, and will look better on your CV when you decide you’d like to move on.
3. Get your “store front” in order
To maximise the number of job applications that lead to interviews, you must make sure that your CV, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile are consistent with one another and tailored to the roles for which you apply. It sounds simple, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do the basics in order to make a strong first impression.
And make sure to highlight relevant experience in video and OTT across your CV, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. Or if you’re looking for a first role in video and OTT, make sure that your CV highlights how your skills and past accomplishments could be applied to video or OTT, and also explain it in more detail in your cover letter.
4. Network online and in real life (even if you’re not a social animal)
In this industry, you can spend every night out at events if you want to, but I know from my clients that relentless networking isn’t everyone’s thing. Nonetheless, networking undoubtedly remains a key tool for progressing your career. The classic paper by Mark S. Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties”, highlighted this, and was confirmed by research published last year by recruitment firm Sphere, who found that only seven percent of jobs in the UK within the online sector were filled via job boards. The good news is that quality of interactions trumps quantity, and if you maximise the efficacy of your network, you’ll still be able to spend most of the upcoming cold winter nights on your couch with a hot chocolate and a movie.
5. Perfect your interview technique
Job interviews, like all contests and performances, reward the prepared. Professional singers won’t go on stage without rehearsing. Professional footballers don’t walk into a match without having trained for it. And yet, when it comes to interviews, so many people just “wing it” and hope for the best on the day. Even if it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform their career. Don’t let that be you. As Benjamin Franklin asserted, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.
Come to the interview with relevant examples and past accomplishments that relate to video and OTT specifically. And make sure you’re able to talk about the big current trends in video and OTT too. Read articles about the employer’s technology and competition and prepare strategic questions for the interviewers – this often overlooked part of preparation will help you stand out. And do as many mock interviews as you can: train like a pro would!
Video and OTT advertising are set to continue growing at speed, and its constant evolution makes it a very exciting field to work in. Following the above steps will give you a great shot at progressing within the sector and setting yourself up for a long and successful career in the field. Get out there and seize the day – good luck!