You can't read any marketing-related publication without hearing some statistics about how companies are increasing budgets for digital marketing and that the number of digital marketing jobs will increase as a result. Case in point: According to a study by eMarketer, U.S. online advertising spending is expected to grow 23.3 percent to $39.5 billion in 2012. In addition to this growth prediction, at Aquent we saw a significant increase in demand for interactive design, creative, and digital professionals during the second quarter of 2012.
Ask a hiring manager their perspective on today's digital job market and they would likely say they've got front-end development, interactive design, and UX jobs available, but they're not able to find candidates with these types of specialized skills. If you ask a job seeker their perspective, they might say that no human could possess all of the skills required for the open job descriptions.
Pose the question to just about anyone working for a staffing agency placing marketing, creative, or digital talent and they'll definitely say that all of the above is true. They will also be quick to say that both hiring managers and job seekers need to adapt their hiring, staffing, and job-hunting strategies for a new reality.
Hire people with specific skills
Can one person really be expected to: deliver beautiful creative, produce compelling content that can be shared on social media, write adaptive code for all of the interfaces your audience might be using, track and analyze massive amounts of data, and deliver leads that drive revenue? Whether looking for temporary or permanent hires, employers need to take a step back and make sure that their job descriptions are realistic. Taking the time to think about which skills are required versus which skills are "pluses" is key to making a successful short-term or long-term hire.
Staff up with contract talent
According to a 2012 Nielsen(TM) study, "Americans are consuming more content on more devices -- often simultaneously." Digital marketing has evolved far beyond display and search advertising. This fact poses not only a huge strategic marketing problem for brands that are trying to cohesively communicate their message across all platforms, but also a problem from a hiring perspective. Can you source enough job candidates to do the work in-house?
The answer is "yes," but you may not be able to find candidates to do it on a full-time basis. Ten-plus years after we were introduced to the concept of a "free agent nation," the idea continues to gain momentum. More and more highly skilled professionals are seeking out temporary or contract work as a replacement to fulltime employment. To adjust, some of the world's largest brands are becoming more strategic about their staffing plans. They are working with ad agencies (who are also using contractors to keep pace with their client needs), staffing agencies, and bringing in freelance talent to build a more flexible workforce to help meet their digital marketing objectives.
Highlight variety in your portfolio or resume
While some job descriptions may be totally unrealistic, it is important to highlight your range for a potential employer. A digital marketing portfolio or resume shouldn't showcase every project you've ever worked on, rather it should provide a potential employer with evidence that you have specialized in front-end development and also worked collaboratively on projects with analytic experts, interactive designers, and user-experience professionals. This type of displayed experience will go a long way in showing your prospective employer that you understand how all of the team members collaborate to design, execute, and evaluate a digital campaign.
Actively seek out professional development opportunities
The digital media landscape is rapidly changing. Online tools like Smarterer offer 39 tests in design and 89 tests in software development to help "show what you know." If you score lower than expected, there are well-known online resources, such as Creative Edge or Team Treehouse, which offer no-cost or low-cost training options to help you stay ahead of the curve. Conferences like the HOW Interactive Design Conference can offer digital marketing professionals the opportunity to stay updated on the latest industry trends. Candidates who can talk about putting the most cutting-edge technologies to work for their digital campaigns are more likely to impress potential employers.
Yes, good digital talent is difficult to find, but qualified candidates are out there. The key for both hiring managers and job seekers is to adjust their expectations, mine their experience, and get to work.
Tracy Sinclair is VP of global marketing at Aquent.
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"Businessmen entering into the digital world" image via Shutterstock.