In an age of increasing stimulation, it is harder and more crucial than ever to cut through the noise. To reach the right people, at the right time, in the right way, agencies, enterprises, and small businesses must all fine-tune their approaches to digital marketing.
This requires finding digital marketing professionals who understand the new digital world and the ever-shifting array of tools it offers, but who are also squarely grounded in the enduring principles of marketing - and giving them what they need to succeed.
With a team immersed in the evolving marketing landscape, we have observed a few significant hiring trends to watch. Understand these, and you'll be prepared to build top-shelf marketing teams in 2018 and beyond.
Change Is Not Constant - It's Accelerating
Businesses across the board want to hire marketing professionals with more specialized skills. Candidates who can make use of ever-evolving analytics programs are at a serious advantage, as are those with expertise in newer disciplines, such as mobile, social media, and content marketing.
The rapid influx of new job titles serves as a testament to profound shifts in the landscape. Quite a few of the most in-demand roles are new. 2018’s abundance of opportunity for experts in Content Strategists, Mobile Developers, and leaders in Digital Business Analytics did not exist a few years ago, and has eclipsed the openings for some more traditional roles. Some essential skills are so new that they don't even have names.
Hiring for new skill sets poses new challenges to recruiters, and some struggle to keep pace. Given the persistent acceleration of change, there’s a lack of methods to measure and benchmark candidates, leaving a lot of room for guesswork, which in turn leads to lost time and opportunities across organizations and teams.
Mind the Talent Gap
The state of digital marketing is characterized by a significant "talent gap." According to a recent study by Capgemini and MIT, 77% of companies believe that insufficient digital skills constitute a key obstacle to their digital transformation. As growing numbers of hiring managers look for specialists with increasingly specific skills, many are having trouble finding them.
Meanwhile, for candidates with relevant digital marketing skills, demand far outpaces supply. In digital marketing, the demand for qualified candidates is more than double the supply of active job-seekers.
This doesn’t surprise Daniel Hoffman, a digital marketing consultant for Aquent. The impact of top digital marketers, he says, “is now seen every day, in the news media, in politics, in global affairs, not just for ‘online businesses,’ as it was years ago,” says Hoffman.
And as marketing becomes pervasive across entire organizations, and not just contained within the marketing department, the kind of thinking and the skills they employ are making qualified digital marketers more valuable - and harder to find. “Every organization needs them, and can use them in more roles and functions than ever,” says Hoffman. “They deliver measurable, data-driven results, and leading companies leverage them better than their competitors.”
Social Is Coming Into Its Own
Because of high demand, a lack of resources, and a lack of assessment tools, most hiring managers struggle with sifting through resumes to find the gems. In particular, social media skills are not as well understood as they could be, simply because the discipline of social is growing and changing so quickly.
88% of marketing professionals say they need to measure ROI on social media. Less than half that number are confident that they’re able to do it. Once a playground and a realm of experimentation, social media has solidified as a discipline in ways that non-experts still struggle to understand.
Social is complex. It’s culturally pervasive and requires laser-focused strategies for success. “These critical channels can literally make or break a company's reputation,” says Hoffman. “Any social media professional needs to stick to a plan and not just shoot from the hip, and truly understand how this content fits into an organization's overall, integrated marketing strategy.”
The future of social media marketing belongs in the hands of digital denizens who live it, breathe it, and are fluent in its shifting language. The rise of social has opened an entirely new career path, along with exciting opportunities for those who know what they're looking for and how to get it.
Knowledge Is Power
Hiring managers are now faced with the challenge of choosing between hundreds of online hiring platforms. Many recruiters in digital marketing would prefer one dominant platform, rather than being overwhelmed with so many choices.
Those in the digital marketing world are preparing for even more change and disruption. Firms are allocating more of their budgets for video and social, and keeping an eye on AR, VR, and other emerging trends. When it’s time to buy marketing software or make other purchasing decisions, the most trusted source of information, by far, is still word of mouth. Reliable information is diffuse, and those who can consolidate it, curate it, and create useful repositories of digital marketing know-how have tremendous power.
Demand is increasing for online classes, training materials, and other means of recording and transmitting the technical and practical know-how that marketers need. In response, digital marketing leaders are blogging, making videos, hosting live events, and building communities around learning, teaching, and sharing their skills and expertise.
For maximum impact, that continuous learning should cross departmental boundaries. Hoffman suggests that companies should help their digital marketing leaders educate the rest of the company. “Marketing is so horizontal now, using the huge advancements in marketing technology to permeate all functions. Marketing is now more like traditional IT, in that it is a service that supports every function, helping each of them be better and achieve their goals,” he says.
People Matter Most, and Their Priorities Are Shifting
Even in the face of increasing specialization, smart companies must think and hire holistically. Although certain specific digital marketing skills are in higher demand, "soft skills" such as personality, communication, and culture fit are ranked as even more important for new hires. “The techniques, tools, methodologies - those can be learned. At the core, digital marketers have a mix of right brain and left brain thinking, with a balance and a passion for creative problem-solving,” Hoffman says.
Highly valuable candidates are now more likely to take a consumer approach to the job hunt, comparing different potential employers and viewing them much as a customer considers a product. Although today’s job seekers are still largely motivated by higher salaries, they also place greater emphasis on factors such as flexible scheduling, strong health benefits, and opportunities to make a difference.
For hiring managers, this means that mission matters, particularly as the millennial generation begins to dominate the workforce. When searching for qualified candidates, make sure you clearly understand the values your company represents, and seek those who resonate. The world of digital marketing is evolving fast, and finding the right talent is the surest way to stay ahead of the game.