It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every industry, forcing many local businesses to shut their doors. Like many others, marketing and advertising agencies have had to adapt to meet the changing needs of clients and employees, alike.

While others in the industry are downsizing and cutting costs at every corner, Amplified Digital Agency continues to grow at a rapid pace. Looking for a job in the industry? We’re hiring! To get you started, we sat down with Amanda McGinnis, Managing Director of Amplified Digital Agency, for some key insights to help you stand out and succeed in 2021.

Are there any qualities you seek in a candidate today that weren’t as important to you prior to the pandemic?

As one of the last people to interview a candidate, I am primarily considering growth opportunities, overall fit with where we’re headed as an organization, and culture fits. I tend to look for strong organizational skills, self-paced project management and prioritization skills, and the ability to work alone but also act effectively as a team. One thing that is more important than ever before is familiarity with web conferencing tools such as Slack and Zoom.

How can applicants give themselves an edge in such a competitive field?

Some of the strengths we’ve seen that really stood out to us in candidates recently include not only the person’s background, qualifications, and experiences, but the ability to demonstrate passion for the industry professionally, as well as having and displaying excellent communication and interpersonal leadership skills.

Do you have any tips or best practices when it comes to interviewing via Zoom or phone?

As always, prepare for the call early. Start working with the equipment an hour or so before the call so that you can test your internet connection, camera, and microphone to determine if you’ll need to dial in for audio by phone. Make sure the space around you is tidy and free from distractions, and ensure there is a clear, unimpeded view of you in the camera’s window.

During the call, make sure to look directly into the screen, not off into space, and speak as clearly as possible. Pausing lightly after speaking sometimes helps during these conversations to ensure that you aren’t speaking over anyone if there is a lag on the screen.

Pro-tip: wear solid colors so that your clothes don’t give off a vibrating effect. Stripes and other patterns can often cause issues with screens that are unfavorable.

What can someone who was laid off as a result of the pandemic due in their downtime to boost their resume?

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to include everything you’ve accomplished since your last update. There are so many free online courses, articles, and resources to immerse yourself in, if you have the time.

To name a few ideas:

  • Practice or re-take Google certifications so that they are up to date and not tied to your previous company
  • Review updated usage stats from sites like Pew Research and eMarketer
  • Stay up to date with advertising spending habits and search trends on Think with Google and Google Trends

How has the digital marketing industry changed since the start of the pandemic?

Digital marketing has shown to be the top (and most critical) resource that today’s business owners need to invest in to survive, and I don’t believe this trend is going to change. Having everything available at their fingertips has put the consumer in the seat of power more than ever, and if your business isn’t found at the moment a consumer looks for you, you will miss out on opportunities. It is crucial that business owners understand this, and work with a strategic digital marketing partner to close these gaps for consumers.

What would make an applicant’s cover letter stand out?

When it comes to cover letters, this aspect of the application process can be difficult because a cover letter is basically a letter or story you write to sell yourself to the business or hiring manager.

Personally, I usually read cover letters second, after reading the resume to ensure the applicant meets key qualifications. To be frank, cover letters often come across as dull and seem to all run together with similar statements of how a candidate is going to be the perfect fit for our company. Rarely are they memorable.

I would recommend that you do your best to personalize your cover letter, allowing your personality and passion to really shine in this space, and work to make it stand out from the crowd.

A few questions to ask yourself while writing:

  • What got you interested in marketing and what keeps you passionate about the industry?
  • What do you think that is different than others and can you convince us to think the same?
  • What keeps you up at night about marketing or what problem are you eager to solve for business owners?
  • How might you bring value and what skill sets do you have that qualify you for the role?

Answering these questions will help highlight key elements that belong in your cover letter, but don’t stop there!

What certifications or achievements do you look for in a candidate?

This truly depends on the role itself; however, the way digital marketing tactics and digital presence services are aligning themselves is showing us that candidates with multi-tactic experience, or robust skill sets are becoming a dire need in our industry that can’t be ignored.

If we’re looking at a paid media candidate, for example, we look for actual experience working with the respective platforms, rather than using 3rd party tools to do so, as well as Google and other relevant platform trainings and certifications. Having experience running paid media campaigns in more than one platform type is excellent because it shows you have experience with the same tactic type across various systems and functions.

If we’re seeking a web developer, as another example, we look at the languages and types of platforms they’ve mastered, as well as what additional experience and skillsets they have. A developer with WordPress platform experience, html5, graphic design, and UI/UX design experience might take a priority seat over a candidate with just general WordPress experience.

Any tips for maintaining work/life balance while working from home?

So many! Because we have teams spread across so many areas, I worked remotely prior to the pandemic due to frequent travel and my own distance from the local office. Throughout the early days of the pandemic, I was able to experience all sides of the ‘work from home woes’ with our team members who weren’t quite ready or prepared to do it.

First and foremost, working from home isn’t for everyone. I encourage those who it isn’t for to recognize this and find a better balance that maybe includes (safely) going into an office or a public space a few days a week.

For those who are trying to master remote working, having a dedicated work space is important. This ensures that while you are sitting in this space, you have minimal distractions and are in the right mind set to do your work. Set aside a small desk or corner in your home to ensure it is free from distractions, and keep it clean and clear of clutter.

Additionally, having a sound schedule and routine can also go a long way in how you work remotely. It is important to get up and ‘get ready’ to work, in whatever way this means for you. For example, getting up, showering, having a cup of coffee and breakfast, and getting dressed (in something professional but comfortable) might help you get into the right frame of mind in the morning, rather than just getting out of bed, throwing on a sweatshirt, and drinking your coffee at your home work space.

When you mentally ‘feel’ like you’re getting ready for work, your frame of mind will be in gear and ready to tackle the work day. When you’re overly relaxed and still tired because you haven’t allowed yourself the proper mind space to officially wake up, you run at half pace throughout the day, which may cause you to be less focused and productive.

Ensuring proper balance throughout the day is also critical. Encourage yourself to take breaks, allow yourself to eat lunch or snacks at reasonable times, and go take a walk outside or load the dishwasher if you need to. Having a few 10-20 minute breaks away from your computer throughout the day can go far to helping you feel like your days are productive and still flexible. If you think about your previous office life – you likely had moments of chit chat at the water cooler, in the lunch room, or at a teammate’s work space throughout the day. It is important to continue this ‘break taking’ even while at home.

One thing people often forget about is that we need to ensure we stop working at a reasonable time. Just because you are home ‘at work’ doesn’t mean that you work day never stops. Overworking yourself is not trendy or cool. While it’s okay to occasionally work late to finish a project on deadline, setting boundaries for yourself each day can ensure your mind has the ability to shut off the work day and begin personal life time. Working too late into the evening can cause your mind to not shut work off, leading you to less quality sleep, or even dreaming about work, which may lead you to feel like it never ends! Turn your work day off at, or by a certain time each day to ensure this doesn’t become a habit.

What is the best question someone has asked you in an interview?

I’ve worked with our company for over 13 years, and throughout all of those years, my favorite questions always have to do with “why I’ve stayed so long with the same company”, “what sets this company apart from competitors”, or “what I truly enjoy about the work our company does”. These questions allow me to share my personal passions for our team, our company and our industry – as I encourage others to also do!

What areas are growing within the agency?

While 2020 wasn’t an easy year, I will say it has by far been one of my favorites for our company. During the early days of the pandemic, the number of markets across the US that we serve had just nearly doubled with our parent company’s acquisition of Berkshire Hathaway newspapers. This was quite an undertaking amidst a pandemic, and magically while navigating the transition and merging, we were able to switch the mindset and focus of our teams from ‘selling advertising and services’ (think ‘promotion, promotion, promotion!’), to positioning ourselves to help our clients communicate the changes occurring within their businesses in the best ways possible to reach their consumers. When we realized the impact the pandemic was having on our communities and small businesses, we didn’t sit back or slow down – we went to work for them.

I truly believe that the way our company shifted during the worst days of the pandemic is what set us apart for future growth as a trustworthy company that businesses can rely on when they need marketing assistance. That is why almost every single aspect of our company is growing. From media buying to content writing and website development, we’re hiring or have just recently hired nearly every type of position within our company – and we likely won’t see this trend slowdown in 2021 because the businesses we serve have come to learn that they need our services now more than they ever have before.

What are you most excited about for the future of Amplified?

Wow! This is a tough but wonderful question. 2020 was such a rollercoaster year… it is difficult to predict exactly what is ahead for us as we work to support the businesses in our local communities. A few things I’m excited about for early 2021 include the addition of our new team members who have recently joined or will be soon joining our organization. I’m thrilled to be part of a company who is working to build a robust staff of highly skilled marketing professionals who are geared toward offering an amazing client experience and who are constantly focused on our clients’ success.

I’m also excited about our increased use of video which has helped our clients engage with their audiences in new and more immersive ways, as well as the introduction of a more robust branded content team and programs to help our clients really tell their stories in meaningful ways. Early in 2021, we’ll have an increased focus on eCommerce offerings and ways to aid our clients in promoting their products for sale in new ways – as we’ve learned over the past year eCommerce has become key to the success of retailers nationwide.

We’ll be introducing new products that allow deeper engagement within tactic types we already offer, and bringing new capabilities to further track brand lift. In addition, we’re building a calendar of helpful webinars for business owners to learn about the ways digital marketing and presence programs can aid them in growing through and out of the pandemic successfully. As we worked our way through all that 2020 brought us, and look back at how far we’ve come, I’m certain that nothing will stop us from helping our clients navigate a successful 2021!

Are you looking for a new opportunity in 2021? We are actively seeking applicants for multiple positions throughout the agency. Apply today!