2019’s 3 Largest Roadblocks in Hiring Digital Marketing Talent

Hiring digital marketing talent like finding a needle in a haystack
Lionseye insights from AC Lion

Marketing Continues to Shift and Talent is in Short Supply

Don’t panic, but there’s a digital marketing talent shortage.

If you’re struggling to attract, hire, and retain digital marketing and digital product talent, you are not alone. A staggering 59% of companies hiring are looking to attract digital marketers, and only 19% of those marketers are actively searching for new career opportunities.

With new technologies and persistent changes in the field, there’s an especially strong demand right now for digital marketing talent. According to The CMO Survey, marketing hires are expected to reach their highest level since 2012 with most hires increasingly specializing in digital marketing.

These numbers are incredibly high, and while great for marketing employees, it can be tough on companies who are trying to attract people with these key skill sets.

Why Is There a Digital Marketing Talent Shortage?

Put simply, demand outweighs supply–but there are reasons for that. And they are along several dimensions. One dimension is that the role of marketing has shifted in ways that encompass more sales and growth responsibilities than ever before. The digital marketing talent role now includes everything from lead generation and customer experience management to writing, editing, and analysis. Marketing is no longer siloed.

In addition to partnering with sales, digital marketing employees tend to be involved cross-departmentally in corporate communications, employee marketing, public relations, and even human resources. This sentiment is echoed in a recent Martech article  that reads: “Good Product Managers Are Good Marketers.”

The bottom line: good marketers have an array of skills that are indispensable and in high-demand in most departments.

The supply side challenge is in part due to an increasing number of professionals who are breaking up with traditional jobs to work as freelancers or consultants. This group makes up approximately 35% of the US workforce and continues to rise.

So, how do we bridge supply and demand the gap? Know the challenges and clear the path.

Three Major Challenges

It’s certainly far from impossible to find quality digital marketing talent, but it is an increasingly complex prospect.  Here’s what we know about these digital marketing talent acquisition challenges:

1. A Major Shift in the Growth of Martech (Marketing technology)

Marketing technology is driving the need for digital marketing talent more than ever.  Each skill that has a potential hire, like creative or content / editorial or analytics, has now become even more critical while marketing leaders are required to bring so much more to the game.  They need to be knowledgeable within each discipline; cross disciplines with ease and understand the individual disciplines enough to even manage them.

Most great marketers bring a blend of strategic, creative, leadership and analytical skills. New marketing leaders, albeit not always ready to manage large organizations, are likely to have that blend of skills and abilities versus more mature marketers from a time when technology was not as widely used in marketing.

2. The Role of Digital Marketing Continues to Expand

Responsibilities that once fit squarely in the sales department, now fall under digital marketing. These include critical tasks like lead generation, prospect pipeline management, data analysis, and customer experience. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the shifting of the digital marketing role, but as responsibilities expand, it does make the hiring process more complex. When hiring the best tech talent, or any talent, it’s critical that hiring managers have a thorough understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the position.

3. Marketing Department Org Charts, Roles and Responsibilities Have Drastically Changed

With more data, better technology, and greater overall responsibilities, marketing roles are undergoing a dramatic shift. Team structures from four to five years ago are no longer relevant. Newly emerged roles include Head of Growth, Head of Customer Experience (CX), and Growth Manager or even Growth Product Manager. While not all of these titles fall squarely under marketing, they are each an essential part of the digital marketing ecosystem. But because they are so new, not everyone completely understands what duties they fulfill or why they are necessary

Growth Managers, for example, tend to sit at the cross-section between sales and marketing. According to the Harvard Business Review, the main goal of Growth Managers is to set data infrastructure in place. They are charged with defining the company’s growth plan, executing growth programs, and optimizing revenue. This is a big role with tremendous responsibility, but an essential one in today’s growing digital economy.

Here’s How to Hire Your Top Digital Marketing Talent

As the global economy soars, employers are scrambling to develop increasingly creative compensation packages and workplace environments in an effort to hire the best talent. Understood, but before hiring top talent, organizations and hiring managers must identify that top talent. They must deliberate on the following:

  • What are the specific responsibilities associated with this role?
  • What mix of digital skill sets is most in demand for this role?
  • What are the key performance indicators of this role?
  • How does this marketing role interact with sales and business growth, plus the rest of the organization?
  • What skill set is commensurate with the offered compensation is today’s competitive talent acquisition market?  What can your marketing salary budget buy?

Employers are working harder to identify, attract, and hire new employees. That is likely a good sign for the future of work, employees, and organizational strategies alike. Collaborating with a seasoned and trusted partner in talent acquisition; one that can help answer the tough questions about digital marketing talent teams, set goals, and provide thoughtful feedback and strategies, is what truly can set you apart.

Alan Cutter, CEO AC Lion 

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Alan Cutter

Alan founded New York City's premier digital media recruiting agency, AC Lion International, more than 20 years ago and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO.