Many people aspire to become full-time web analysts, but it is not an easy field to enter nor is there a straightforward path for gaining real-world experience to help you land a job. You cannot just show up one day at work, and say, “I’m no longer going to do what you hired me to do. I really want to be web analyst, so I’m just going to do analytical work.” You cannot get a job as a web analyst with little to no experience (unless you are lucky enough to find that rare entry-level job). When a business determines they need a web analyst, they do not often look at internal resources to staff the function – they want to hire someone who has experience elsewhere doing web analysis. Thus, it is hard to gain on-the-job analytics experience and it is even harder to break into the field full-time without any experience.
So what is an aspiring web analyst to do? What are some ways to learn more about web analysis, get some practical experiences under your belt, and move your career in the direction you want it to go? Over the years, I have learned that immersing yourself in the web analytics community helps prove to employers that you are a serious candidate. Several methods for breaking into the analytics field and/or gaining more experience, through community immersion, to reference when applying for a job include:
- Earning the University of British Columbia’s Award of Achievement in Web Analytics. The UBC offers several courses that focus on the real-world practice of web analytics – from an introductory information to comprehensive explorations of topics such as optimizing sites, managing campaigns, and building an analytics driven culture. These courses always receive rave reviews and more than a few people have used the knowledge learned in these classes as a stepping-stone to full-time careers in web analytics.
- Completing the University of California Irvine’s Certificate in Web Intelligence. For those people already in web analytics or for those who want to learn the intricacies of business process management, project management, or data warehousing in the context of web analytics and business intelligence, these courses offer the opportunity to do so. Knowledge imparted in these courses is well-suited for advancing your career. Completing these courses offer the new or experienced analyst a leg-up when competing for a new job or helping to prove their suitability for an expanded analytical role at their current job.
- Joining the Web Analytics Association. With over 1,500 members all over the world, the WAA is the premier virtual venue for learning more about web analytics and collaborating with people in the industry. Membership allows you to participate in the web analytics community and interact with experienced web analysts and even hiring managers. From joining committees, to working on special projects, to getting discounts for local, regional, and national events, the WAA provides a central, global focal point for all things web analytics. Joining the WAA says to an employer that you are serious about the field and want to work within it.
- Reading the Blogs and Books. The Web Analytics community has many contributing members who author blogs and books. If you are aren’t reading the blogs and the books, you are missing the opportunity to gain hard-learned and hard-earned experience from people who have been doing web analytics for years nor are you able to share the trials and tribulations of analysts new to the field. Some of my favorite books include Web Analytics Demystified, The Big Book of KPI’s, Web Measurement Hacks, Multichannel Marketing, Advanced Web Metrics, and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day.
- Installing a Free Web Analytics Tool. The barriers to using a web analytics tool in 2008 have all but been removed. It is easy to get a tag from Google Analytics, Yahoo Web Analytics, and Microsoft Ad Center Analytics, and begin exploring the reports, measures, dimensions, filters, variables, and tool configurations available in these products. Learning these tools and applying them to improving you or your friends websites will teach you a fair share of the challenges involved with doing web analytics in the real world. In fact, it is very common to see each of these tools deployed in the wild in corporations around the globe. Who knows… you may even get a job by just having experience using the free tools.
- Attending a Web Analytics Wednesday (WAW). The Internet’s only global monthly social networking event for web marketing and analytics professionals has brought together over 8,800 people in 107 cities. Your local WAW is the best place to meet the local analytics community and talk with the people in it. At a WAW, you will meet people in local companies that take analytics seriously and have a chance to interact with hiring managers near where you live. For community immersion, there is not a better place to do it than WAW.
- Going to Conferences. For those who already work in web analytics or want to find out more about the contemporary practice of web analytics today, attending conferences is a “must do” –at least one per year to stay in the game. The eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, the X Change Conference, the Internet Marketing Conference, and the vendor-specific conferences hosted by Omniture, WebTrends, CoreMetrics, and Unica are all well worth the cost of attendance.
While it is hard to land that first job in web analytics or to move forward from your current role into a more analytically-focused position, the resources I’ve cited above can assist you in figuring out the best path for getting that position and proving that you can do the job. What hiring manager wouldn’t want to give someone a chance who has taken the UBC courses, joined the WAA, gone to eMetrics, attended a WAW, read the blogs and books, and immersed themselves in the web analytics community? It is that type of commitment to the field that a quality staffing company, like IQWorkforce, can use to differentiate you from the crowd and help you get a job that takes your career to the next level.