The state of the marketing job market


Employment has taken a heavy blow since the pandemic began, and the role in marketing is in no way immune, as many companies have concluded that marketing is nice rather than essential.

Marketing budgets have been cut and many brands have shifted their spending to digital media as consumers have been forced to stay at home. All of this means that not only are there fewer jobs in marketing, but those that are on the table are leaning heavily towards digital.

Digital marketing jobs were among the fastest growing in the UK over the past year, according to data from LinkedIn. This shows that the demand for such roles has increased by 52%. The focus is very much on “innovative alternatives” to traditional marketing, with these types of roles attracting a younger population with an average age of 28 years.

Looking at the specific skills whose demand is growing fastest, eight of the top 10 relate to digital and data. Paid social media increased 116% over the past year, followed by ads (85%), analytics (46%) and social media advertising (46%).

What does this mean for future senior marketers? Ritson highlighted the problem in a recent article, suggesting that unemployed marketers must pretend they believe in “digital marketing” if they have any hope of getting a job.

This consistent focus on digital means brands are looking for marketers who not only have a general understanding of tougher skills related to digital, data, e-commerce, and social issues, but also have extensive knowledge.

Joel Barnett, executive director of the recruiting company Fortune Hill, says, “In the real world, if you can’t speak with substance about the digital aspect of the marketing mix, you will have a very hard time getting a good job. ”

In short, without these digital skills, former CMOs will find it very difficult to become CMO now.

“We see a few instances where people have taken job number two and stepped on as ‘CMO minus one’ to gain that digital corporate presence and learn, believing it will be a lot easier for them to get around theirs Return to position within the company as soon as they can convey a much more believable understanding of digital in an interview, ”he adds.

You have to be really careful about using the term “digital native” as a business that you are not actually opening up to anti-discrimination measures.

Joel Barnett, Fortune Hill

While “first in, first out” might have been the mantra for some companies looking to reduce their headcount, says Rebecca Moore, manager at Michael Page, where redundancies have been made in marketing, it is often the higher, higher paying roles that do there was cutting first.

“If companies had to cut costs, it was probably more focused on cutting those senior positions,” she says. “It hasn’t always been the case, but that’s what some companies have done – get rid of those high salaries and qualify those who come through the ranks.”

While Barnett believes brands are still realizing the value of a broader marketing and branding strategy, the most sought-after skills relate to digital and data backing the LinkedIn data.

“When companies allocate more budget to digital media, they will look for experts in this area. And increasingly, as companies are under financial pressure, they try to accommodate some of the things that they would have previously outsourced to agency partners, ”he says.

This surge in demand for marketers with tougher digital skills is something that recruiters across the marketing sector have seen over the past few years, but accelerated over the past 10 months.

“It is definitely a sign of the times that almost every marketing role now includes an element of digital or social media, and companies across the board are looking to expand or include their digital marketing or e-commerce offerings,” says Danielle Lavin, Senior consultant at Ball and Hollahan.

“Many marketers have worked their way up the ladder as all-rounders and worked on a 360-degree model. Depending on the size of the company, the older the role, the less practical they are. Hence, they had executives or social media, digital and e-commerce agencies to delegate and assume these elements of responsibilities.

“As marketing budgets are being cut and teams are getting leaner, what you see here is a challenge for top marketers to take a step back and be involved in all aspects of the marketing process,” she adds.

However, the level of digital skills marketers need depends on the size of the business, suggests Moore.

“Where you have smaller, leaner structures [marketers] will likely be more technically digital and practical. Typically, when you have larger teams, marketers need to know exactly where digital is in the strategy and they need to be able to manage digital agencies or manage someone on their team who is a digital specialist but that do not do it. ‘That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an absolute expert. “

According to David Nobbs Partner and Head of Consumer at Grace Blue Partnership, not only do marketers need to brush up on digital and e-commerce, but CEOs and CMOs also need to make sure they have a good understanding.

“It’s one thing to master buzzwords, but it’s increasingly important to really understand these customer journeys across the various digital customer points as this determines the success or failure of companies,” he says.

Taking food as an example, he says that companies that may have been delivering to restaurants prior to the pandemic have moved overnight to offering more customer-centric offerings direct to consumers, whether they’re building direct channels or repackaging products.

“You just can’t rely on hiring a person who is a digital expert to do this. You have to be able to think about the whole strategy in all facets of the business as everything is interconnected across the entire supply chain, from product manufacturing to the customer’s door, ”he says.

“I’m not saying that every CMO has to be a digital director, but they have to understand the whole marketing mix better to be able to rotate in this start-stop environment.”

Discrimination against terms like “digital native”

Brands need to be careful when recruiting that they don’t use terms like “digital native” – ​​anecdotally, something marketers have seen more of – as this could exclude a slew of people who technically can’t be digital natives at your age .

“If you use that term, you risk being discriminatory,” says Barnett. “If you’ve already started your career [Facebook and YouTube became prominent]It’s hard to define yourself as a digital native. The internet has been rife in consumer lives since just before the turn of the century, but before that all media was offline. You could argue that if you started working before 2000 you are a digital native. However, companies typically think that a digital native is someone who grew up in a largely digital world. “

He suggests that most companies actually think they want someone with a deep understanding of digital business.

Many digital specialists will not have the gravitas and the knowledge that arise from staying in the industry and organic processing.

Danielle Lavin, Ball and Hoolahan

Nobbs agrees, recalling a number of clients over the past 15 years who wanted to hire “a young high-flyer, someone digital,” adding, “that’s what younger, entrepreneurial leaders will usually say”.

While listening to these requests from customers, he always challenges them. “I remember a big sports rights organization that said they wanted someone ‘a bit like us’ – they had two managers who were in their thirties. The person I appointed was 54 and he actually had more energy and did triathlons for breakfast … He had the right expertise, he understood digitally safely. Was he a digital native? Well it depends on how you define it. “

Nobbs also warns that someone who has focused entirely on digital “often has blind spots around the brand”.

“I wouldn’t use the term digital native in a letter or advertisement. [To me] It is someone who is going digital and has a wider range of expertise, ”he adds.

By focusing their attention on the need for a “digital native,” they also risk missing out on the expertise and skills that older marketers can bring with them.

In most cases, according to Lavin, mainstream social media and digital marketing haven’t been around long enough to have high-level people in those roles.

“Many digital specialists will not have the gravitas and the knowledge that arise from staying in the industry and working through it organically. So there is definitely still a call for seasoned marketers willing to be agile, flexible, and adaptable so as not to stay on the shelf, ”she adds.

Older marketers shouldn’t be at a disadvantage

Despite the increased focus on digital skills, older marketers who, based on their experience, tend to be older should not automatically be disadvantaged.

“It is a fallacy to say that younger people know more about the digital world than older people,” he suggests. “There is the reality that if it’s all you ever known, you have nothing to compare, but I know a large number of people who have done a tremendous amount of self-educated work and have done reverse mentoring and spent a lot of time with customers and technical functions in their company to improve their understanding. “

He points to Adidas’ vice president of marketing, Roy Gardner, who is featured in Fortune Hill’s book “Extracts from the Experts: Marketing”. “[Gardner] says to remember that the answer to every question is not preceded by the word digital. Marketing is much more than what is displayed online and through social channels. “

It’s also not out of reach for seasoned marketers to learn these skills and be in as good a position from a recruiting point of view as someone who, given the pace of change in the past, has spent much longer in digital marketing.

“Things go so fast and people have to deal with it all the time [changes and updates]”Says John Hunter, Senior Consultant at Fortune Hill. “If you’ve worked in digital companies for the past decade, you may not have better digital skills than someone who has only worked digital for the past few years. They have a similar understanding of what is happening.

“A lot of people think that they can’t compete with someone who has decades of experience, but in fact, much of that experience is now redundant, not relevant these days.”