Finding a job in digital media in Manchester – advice from the industry
The north-west of England is seeking to position itself at the forefront of the digital media market, making Manchester a prime location for jobseekers with a flare for innovation and design to consider.
In March last year, Manchester City Council unveiled a 10-point plan to put the city on the worldwide digital map by 2020. While an independent report acknowledged it was not currently well placed globally, the city which gave birth to the computer is determined to reassert itself. The relocation of the BBC Breakfast programme from London to Salford in 2012 boosted Manchester’s image on the media stage.
The city will host a digital skills summit and talent day between 20-21 February, inviting more than 150 creative, digital and IT businesses, as well as education policymakers, universities colleges and schools. The event is run by Manchester Digital, a not-for-profit service for digital businesses across the north-west.
Chair of Manchester Digital and CEO of digital agency Code ComputerLove, Tony Foggett, said: “There have been new businesses arriving in the region, some of whom have come on the back of MediaCity and the increased visibility of the area as a result of the BBC's move.
“Much of our work is now cross-platform and mobile, which has brought a new wave of work. A shift in the viability of apprenticeships in the sector is also helping.”
Across the north-west, 16 per cent of the region’s economic output is attributed to the creative and digital sector. In Greater Manchester, five per cent of the workforce lies within the industry, with 40,000 new jobs forecast in Manchester by 2015.
“There is still a general skill shortage across the board really, particularly when it comes to finding experienced people and for quite senior roles. UX and mobile specialists are also in demand,” added Foggett. “We have quite a particular recruitment policy in that we look for what we call 'T-shaped people’, who are awesome specialists as well as collaborators.
“I advise people to really take the time to research where the opportunities lie and know what it is that particular companies are after. Events like the Manchester Digital talent day are a must, as well as any other networking opportunities. There is really no excuse for not finding out what's going on in the region from the excellent marketing media reporting on work going on and events, social channels and blogs, and digital groups like Manchester Digital.”
Digital jobs with a graphic design edge are particularly popular in the north-west, reflecting the area’s reputation for creativity and arts. A typical digital designer post will require strong web design skills and offers the perfect opportunity to combine the technological aspect of digital with strong creativity.
Expertise in the basic elements of the digital world, such as knowledge of SEO and social media, are essential, while a proactive approach to industry developments – the rise of the mobile platform, for example – will significantly strengthen digital job prospects in Manchester.
Account director of Manchester digital agency Reading Room, Farooq Ansari, had this advice: “Digital, in itself, is fast becoming a meaningless term. Be very clear about where your strengths lie, and how you want them to develop. Find your niche, or even create your niche and take it from there.
“Get involved in as many events as you can - look at Eventbrite as a handy starting point – and throw yourself in. From Madlab to Northern Digitals and many others, there will be something relevant to you.
For job salaries starting from £16,000, some employers will require knowledge of coding for emailers, websites, online adverts and banners, as well as HTML, CSS, Photoshop and Illustrator skills. Salaries higher up the range will demand expert knowledge of SEO, PPC and a demonstrable ability in management roles in a target driven environment. Knowledge of tools such as Google Analytics and Google Adwords is also sought.
“Wherever you have a healthy, dynamic digital scene, you will also have a range of skills shortages,” Ansari continued. “Manchester is no different in this respect in that anyone with a strong skills set in any area - account management, project management, development - will be in demand.”