Today’s marketing industry is growing and changing at lightning speed, so if you’re looking to land a great marketing career opportunity, you’ve got to be savvy and strategic in your thinking and execution. Marketing leaders are looking for key skills, attributes, and characteristics when building their dream teams, so whether you’re searching for a new job at a different company or trying to accelerate your career at your current one, it’s time to get real about what it takes to achieve your career goals.
What’s Different In Today’s Job Market
With unemployment at an all-time low, it’s more competitive than ever for sought-after jobs. Marketers need to be well-networked to get tapped for these opportunities. When seeking marketers to join his team, Stuart Itkin, CEO and Principal Consultant at Cycurity Advisors says, “Referrals are very important. Ideally, I find someone from my network of peers and colleagues. I even ask customers who have they worked with that impressed them.”
Jay Weinberg, President of the The Jay Group, agrees that recommendations are the best source, but only certain kinds. “Recommendations that come from actually working with a person are the best source of new employees. Recommendations of people they know socially are not nearly as valuable.”
Social media also plays a big role in assessing candidates. Often times it is your LinkedIn profile that will get seen before your resume, so it’s critical to show your competencies and tell your career story in an interesting way to attract your ideal employer.
Another thing that has changed, especially in marketing, is people don’t want to hire generalists. Weinberg says, “Become an expert. Generalists have a difficult time, so you need to focus on a specific area of interest and ‘go deep.’”
Candidate Qualities That Are In Demand
There are some hot skills, particularly with digital marketing that are in demand today. Jerry Bernhart, principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, says e-commerce is a very hot segment and he will often lose candidates if his client can’t move quickly enough. CRM (customer relationship management) is another hot area. “I had a candidate who ended up with four external offers plus a counter offer,” Bernhart said.
It’s not just the hard skills that are in demand either. Laura Patterson, president and founder of VisonEdge Marketing states, “I look for someone with really excellent communication skills. We work with companies all over the world, so you’ve got to be able to communicate online, over the phone, as well as in person. It’s also mandatory to have people on our team who are responsible and reliable.”
“The main things I look for are enthusiasm, excitement and motivation. Comprehension is also important. I want to hire someone who understands what we do and our value proposition when I explain it,” Itkin says.
Weinberg adds, “No matter what the role in marketing, a candidate should be able to state ‘I can help grow this business.’ Then they can back it up with an explanation of what they would do and how they are uniquely qualified.”
Looking Good Online and On Paper
Your resume is important, but it is not the be-all end-all document in your job search. “It is only valuable in culling out those who are clearly unqualified or not able to communicate effectively. A resume can knock you out, but can’t close the deal,” Weinberg says.
Itkin agrees, “I won’t make a hiring decision on a resume, but it definitely influences if they get in the door to talk with me or the team.”
One of the first things hiring managers and recruiters do is Google your name. Make sure you are aware of how you show up in Google searches.
For marketers your online brand is truly critical. “You should think about your personal and online brand as often as you get your haircut. You can’t afford to ignore your brand. If you don’t know how to brand yourself, how can you brand an organization?” Bernhart asks.
LinkedIn also plays a big part in the recruiting process. Hiring managers are going to check out your profile. “I think you get a lot of additional insight there,” adds Itkin.
Always Be Self-Promoting
In today’s world you need to always be promoting your achievements. This doesn’t mean you have to turn into the local braggart. It just means you need to make sure you are measuring your value and sharing the results. In other words, don’t just document you sent out “X” number of emails. Report on how many responded and converted into sales.
“You should be more than just a producer,” Patterson says. “Organizations are more strategic in nature. Don’t just track that you sent out that email or social media campaign. Ask yourself, what am I going to do to move the needle and how far did I move it?”
And when you’re looking to get to that next level of management, think about how you’re developing those leadership skills. “You need to have the ability to inspire and lead other people. It’s something I often see lacking in a mid-level person looking to move up. You need to be more of a strategic thinker,” Bernhart says.
When you are proactive in managing your career, regardless if you are in marketing or not, you will keep moving forward. And forward doesn’t always mean up. You could change industries or do a small pivot to master other marketing skills.
How are you going to keep your marketing career moving forward?