How I Overcame My Challenges and Became a Successful Digital Marketer, Today I will share my story.
My name is Ariunaa Enkhamgalan. Many of you haven’t seen such a name. I’m from Mongolia. I have been living in Singapore for last 6 years, first learning English, then studying at University and now working in the digital marketing industry. You can find out more about me on my LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ariunaaenkhamgalan
How was your University time?
My first experience with higher education was leaving Mongolia at the age of 18 to come to Singapore to learn English. At that time, I didn’t understand a word of English and I had no hope of getting into any University, despite having good grades in High School in Ulaanbaatar.
So I spent the next two years learning English. It was tough. Later, without really knowing what I wanted to do in my future career, I entered a Diploma of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
Honestly, it came down to two things – the fees for this Diploma were affordable and I had been told that it was easier for a foreigner to get a job in Singapore in the hotel and hospitality industry.
But it wasn’t my passion. As I completed the Diploma, I knew I had to make a decision about my future and I was increasingly aware that I didn’t want to work in Hospitality. I found out more about business and I was attracted to marketing. It seemed like a cool and fun industry to work in. So I enrolled in a Bachelor of Business & Marketing honours program, which I completed in 2017.
Sadly, I also realised that just a Bachelor degree isn’t enough for most employers now. So I also did an online executive education course, a Certificate in Digital Marketing at Columbia Business School and have completed practical certification with Google (for analytics, advertising and search marketing).
Why did you choose a career in Digital Marketing?
I was a poor student struggling to learn English and then going through a Diploma in Hospitality & Tourism Management, which was really difficult. I needed money just to survive.
I was encouraged to start a side-business to earn money. I decided on setting up an online-only e-commerce storefront, which I named TengeriinBeleg (a Mongolian phrase that loosely translates as “gift from the sky”). It brought together my passion for sharing Mongolian culture, as well as my love for fashion and jewellery.
In setting up the site I had to develop a lot of new skills – web development, merchandise management, analytics and of course, digital marketing. While the business hasn’t ever really taken off, the process of developing it made me look at marketing as a serious career choice.
I found it interesting, and still do. I am learning more about digital marketing every day and I can see myself developing further for many years in this field.
What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you to get to where you are today?
While I was completing my online digital marketing Certificate from Columbia Business School, I met Damien Cummings who is a former Chief Marketing Officer and experienced digital marketer. He had just set up a new HR software start-up, Peoplewave.
I don’t know how, but he was impressed enough with my skills that I was offered a role as a Digital Marketing Executive at the company. It was a great experience, with highs and lows, as I was involved in setting everything up from scratch.
I was setting up and running search and digital marketing campaigns, reviewing analytics, creating and sharing content, developing marketing collateral and running events. It was lucky to have this as my first job after finishing University. My experience at Peoplewave, along with what I learned setting up TengeriinBeleg (my e-commerce business), gave me the right foundation of strong marketing skills.
My weakness still remained my English and communications skills though. Despite being approached by many high profile brands, it was difficult landing the next role. However, fate was kind. I was approached by the team running community management for the world’s largest social network.
They wanted Singapore-based Mongolian speakers, with a background in digital marketing. This has led me to the job I have today.
How did you prepare for an interview?
I really hate job interviews. Whenever I’m approached to do a job interview, I immediate feel tense and stressed about saying yes. The problem is that it seems that I’m judged for my weaknesses, rather than if I can do the job well.
I have struggled not just with communicating in English, but also with getting my ideas out of my head and into understandable answers. Worse, if I can’t translate my thoughts into verbal answers,
I tend to freeze. I don’t know how to answer some things spontaneously and shut down. I realise this is the worst thing to do, but the pressure of interviews and the expectation of immediate, spontaneous and articulate answers is occasionally overwhelming.
My preparation for interviews is really about overcoming my fears and preparing my answers. I have a set of answers to common questions that I’m now comfortable discussing in detail. I research the company and the manager (LinkedIn is a very good resource for this). I try to rehearse my story and how to talk well before the interview itself. However, it’s never easy. I don’t think I’ll ever be great at doing job interviews.
Books that helped you?
I’m not an avid reader of books, but I’ve read Lean Startup, which is very useful to understand how to get a new business going. I prefer smaller bits of information, so I watch a lot of inspirational and business stories on YouTube, watch TED Talks and read marketing articles online.
What can you recommend on CV?
I worked at Peoplewave, a start-up HR software company that has a purpose of putting people first and making work fair. I’m lucky, as the company researched the important things to include on a CV. These include:
1. Culture fit – adding in content like personality tests (DISC, MBTI, etc.), your personal work style, the companies you enjoy working at or giving more information about what kind of person you are (including what you do in your afterhours private time)
2. Achievements – such as completion of projects, meeting revenue targets or cutting costs, winning awards or generally showing how you as an employee has added value to the company.
3. Skills – what you’re good at, and what you need to improve at.
4. Testimonials or feedback from previous managers or customers – shows that you built good relationships.
5. Social media – give new employers a good understanding of you as a person, and what kind of activities you do.
Advice for someone looking for digital marketer job?
If you’re looking for a career in digital marketing the secret is practical skills. Very few University courses will give you real-world skills, so the responsibility of learning falls to the person looking for a job. In my case, I started an e-commerce business while I was studying.
It was a fast, practical way of understanding how a business operates and what you need to do to make it successful. If I was interviewing two equally good candidates who both held the same University degree, I would always favour the one that had demonstrated practical skills.
This could be something like what I did, starting up a side business. But it could also be writing a blog, running an Instagram business or anything where you gain experience. Good ways of showing this could be from a practical school project, doing volunteer work with a charity or community group, or an internship with a company. Practical skills always beat theory in digital marketing.
Why do you think you were selected among other candidates?
For my current role, that’s very easy. They need a very specialised skill set – a Mongolian speaker, in Singapore, with digital marketing and social media experience. For my previous role at Peoplewave, this was more practical. It was about knowing the manager and building a relationship with them. What I’ve found is that hiring managers always prefer someone that they know, or who has been recommended to them. Of course, skills are important but if you can prove you can do the job, then being recommended gives you a big advantage.
Lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve applied for 508 jobs on LinkedIn and about the same number on other sites like Indeed, Recruit.net, Monster and Jobstreet. That’s over a 1,000 job applications. I estimate I’ve done about 50 job interviews and most of the time didn’t pass the first round. Getting a job is really difficult as a fresh graduate!
The first lesson is that job applications aren’t effective. Job ads just don’t work. What I’ve found is that your chances of getting an interview are much, much higher if you’re recommended by a friend, reach out to a senior manager directly, or otherwise get introduced to a company. A cold approach rarely works.
The second lesson is that you really need to spend time building up a great personal brand and a good presence on LinkedIn. All recruiters go to LinkedIn first but the mistake I see so many people make is that they don’t update their profile, neglect to connect with others and don’t share or create their own content.
Having a great LinkedIn profile means that people seek you out. This is the number one way you can get a job without being recommended (it’s like you’ve recommended yourself!).
The last advice I can offer is to meet people and network. Even if you miss out on a job, you can still make connections with people. I recommend going to events, meetups and other communities. Missing out on one job sucks but that doesn’t mean you won’t be considered for other opportunities at that company or in that industry in the future. Keeping in touch with the right people really helps.