Things are, without a doubt, turning around. Brands are setting the stage to make new investments and executives are already setting a new, more vigorous tone for 2015 with ambitious goals emerging from their planning process.
It is an exciting time to be in marketing, because budgets are coming back and clients are interested in trying new things to steal market share. Last year, many companies were pushing skeleton crews to try to make progress through the dissipating storm. So, people were left scrambling to keep the lights on with their marketing programs. Prior to that, people were simply hanging on as best they could. Now, as some of the companies emerged sooner than others, the competitive tone has been set and companies are filling out their ranks to compete. More jobs are now available and many capable employees who've stayed put for the last few years are finding new opportunities available to them. In this article, I will try to highlight some of the hot jobs that will surface in 2015 and, assuming you have the requisite skills, how to position yourself to get one.
What was once the arena of geeks, finance pros, and mathematicians, analytics is now the name of the marketing game. We didn't always have the depth of analytical tools and software available to us in marketing that we have today.
Analytics used to just be about a few tools that could tell us how someone arrived on our website and what couple of pages they saw. Or, we would take a look at impressions and click-throughs and judge advertising performance based on those couple of factors. Almost anyone could have surfaced that much. Now, marketers are recruiting math majors, statisticians and the like into the marketing game with the expectation that we can measure everything. And, the fact is, we are nearly there. Jobs in analytics abound in marketing departments and at agencies everywhere (and, it is far more fun to do this work in a creative environment rather than in a finance department cubical).
Assuming you have the software basics down and have a deep passion for how math is used to influence decision-making, consider boning up tools such as Tableau and other ways to display data because the information is only useful if the business user can understand it and, thereby, make effective decisions.
With companies willing to invest again this year, they will be back on track with rebuilding their websites. Some companies have been operating with Band-aid and Duct tape solutions in place and may undergo a "replatforming" (where they put new technical infrastructure underneath an existing creative look), while others will choose to overhaul the whole thing. In either circumstance, the people who have the technical capability to do this work, software developers and software architects, will be in demand to bring this work to life.
Frankly, if you are a decent developer, it doesn't require a ton of "positioning" to find the demand for what you do. There are probably plenty of recruiters knocking on your door. The key here is to find the right fit and to find a place that isn't just investing for the short term, but intends to give you the kind of engaging work that you crave. It is critical to know you're "thing" and ensure that the company can satisfy you. What is probably hardest is to find a company that can actually effectively evaluate your skills and give you work that will continue to stretch you.
Any new investment in marketing will require the creative minds and talents to envision where the brand can go. This isn't about a set of hands that can work a keyboard and design programs, but it will be the people who can help a brand stand apart from their competitive set. It is a lot harder to rise above the noise as more and more voices enter the fray, so the creative people -- writers, designers, creative directors -- who can deliver beyond making things look or sound "pretty" are the ones who will be in greatest demand next year.
To take advantage of the demand for these positions, it is either all about portfolio or about who you know that knows the work you're capable of doing. If you've been somewhere that hasn't really pushed your talents in the last few years, it will be tough to get a jump on the next wave of jobs. If you know the right people and those people know your capabilities and think you'll be a great fit, you might get your chance. In either case, it is a good idea to look up from your Mac a bit, seek inspiration and network with your peers. Keep an ear to the ground for who is doing interesting work, soak it up and make sure that you have elevated the bar for yourself as to what great work really is. Then, over deliver when you get your chance.
Anything in personalization
For some, this could be categorized as people with experience with CRM. It could be related to marketing automation, triggered messaging, analytics, etc. There are a number of ways into the job, however what companies are looking for are ways to take the insights gained from analytics and finding ways to improve targeting, customize messaging for the right audiences and ultimately catch prospective customers with the right message in the right place at the right time.
If you have this experience, dial it up. Develop your expertise in adjacent disciplines that all line up with the core purpose of automating and personalizing marketing. Then, keep your eyes out for job descriptions at interesting companies that allude to the need. Hiring managers and HR departments don't know what to call it, just yet, so the title may, at best, be a bit vague.
Bringing it all together
Soon to be gone are the days when marketers thought that digital was "online" and traditional was "offline" and never the twain shall meet. Consumers are always prospective customers whether or not they are online, offline, mobile or IRL (in real life). Brands are looking for senior marketers who have a digital first mentality (because they live to measure), but can operate in the larger world of marketing (which includes in-store, offline, outdoor, etc.).
If you are strong online and have at least moderate traditional exposure, then put yourself in the ring for some of those high-level marketing roles. You will probably be pleased about what you find. CEOs are craving digital-first leaders who love to measure, report, refine, and optimize. Just, please, don't forget about the brand should stand for. It isn't all about conversion rate; there are long-term measurements, too.
What's cooling down
"Social" isn't the "hot job" that it once was. Yes, social media is a critical component of so many marketing plans. However, the supply and demand economics are not in the social media expert's favor. Everyone coming out of school wants to "do social media" or believes that they are an expert. Worse, many marketers actually agree with them. There is no standard for what a social media expert looks like, what skills they have and with what toolsets they are familiar. There are a million people who want to do the job and most employers still can't judge quality in the role.
It isn't all about the job
I find it appropriate to end with this, because, while the entire article is about what hot jobs will be "out there", I do feel that it isn't exclusively the job unto itself that makes for a fulfilling work existence. Even the best-sounding job can still be a disaster. Consider the company, the company's structure, your future interests and career plan, the team, the manager and what support the company has for its' managers.
If companies offer any or all of the positions above, they may be ahead of the curve and are more progressive than the rest. However, your overall long-term experience is going to be less about the role you're hired into and more about everything else around you. Do you have the tools you need to be successful? Do you have a manager who you both like and respect? Do you have (or do you see yourself having) friends at work? Do you believe in what the company does and how they do it?
If you are already in a great company with a supportive manager and team along with the overall structure that supports their employees, you can probably make any one of the roles above happen where you are. I do encourage you to start from that place. Obviously, keep your eyes open for what other people are doing -- particularly brands and companies who you admire -- but make you "hot" first. Then, the hot jobs will follow.
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