Klick Health

Digital marketing skills gap: Truth or self-inflicted wound?

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Every year at around this time surveys come out with “harbinger of doom” reports on the skills shortage we’re experiencing. Factoring out that the companies typically producing and sharing this info have a self-serving motive to promote their products or services –recruiting companies wanting to convince us we need their help fighting the war for talent or training companies wanting to convince us we need their help growing our own troops – some of the fuel for this debate comes from organizations that are failing to find, or even to recognize the right people.

Self-imposed, self-perpetuated

I believe that some of the underlying skills gap is a self-imposed, self-perpetuated phenomenon. Thousands of applications and profiles are being reviewed and there is no one who can do the job?! The real story may simply be that companies need to get better at figuring out what they need and learning to recognize it.

Let’s face it, the Renaissance man (defined loosely by me as a person with better than average skills and talents in a variety of areas) was a rarity even back in the Renaissance, that’s what made them special. More so nowadays with life being more complex and jobs mirroring that dynamic, especially in tech and related marketing roles. Finding someone who is great at most things or even a broad range of them is harder than ever. As tools get more complex, it only make sense it would be harder to find people good at wielding many of them. “While 71 % of large brand/enterprise organizations believe their digital marketing team is strong in some areas, their employees exhibit mediocrity/weakness in other areas”. I am not surprised (except maybe that the number isn’t higher) that “22% (of companies surveyed) say the need for specialists is growing”.

Successful strategies in recruiting

Too often, companies just are not clear enough on what they’re looking at most of the time or worse, don’t know where to look. In the study “State of Digital Marketing Talent” a report recently commissioned by Online Marketing Institute and Kelly Services. They indicate that “more than one third of responders have not hired in the past year because they are overwhelmed by the various sources available and almost as many “30% of large enterprises and 24% of agencies are unable to successfully weed through the resumes they receive”. When you take this in a context where 46% of these organizations are looking for web analytics resources and 52% are looking for overall digital marketing resources you can see why it feels like there is a skill shortage in this field.

Winners in the “war for talent” – like Klick who hired another 100+ people this year almost all of whom were digital marketing or analytics experts – start by investing the time up front to figure out whether a generalist or specialist is required then use this framework to prioritize the skill requirements that really matter. This upfront investment in defining the responsibilities, tasks and skills required has a quick and significant ROI impacting both the time needed to filter candidates and the ability to accurately assess fit. They ensure their victory by further investment in the tools and resources dedicated to hiring. Few wars have been won by part-time or amateur soldiers.

More About the Author

James Fehrenbach

James has spent 20+ years helping organizations find the people they need to meet their business objectives. He brings a deep understanding of the job search process to everything from writing job postings that create a vivid image of the role, to developing the strategy to market those stories to the right people.

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