Let’s Talk Talent: How to hire a digital marketing dream team

Digital marketing has become increasingly competitive in recent years as brands increase their efforts to stand out from the crowd. And with a business’ online presence becoming more crucial than ever before during the Covid-19 pandemic, having the right people and skillset in place is vital to maximise those digital opportunities. According to the IAB, organisations are having real trouble finding people with the right digital skills to fulfil junior and intermediary digital marketing roles, and many are struggling to retain those that do.  

In the latest edition of the  Let’s Talk Talent series with our partners Give A Grad A Go, we assembled a panel to discuss the best strategies and methods to hire successful digital marketing candidates. The panel consisted of marketing guru Darren Low, CEO of Low&Behold, and digital marketing expert and executive coach Cat Agostino, as well as Give A Grad A Go founder, Cary Curtis, to discuss what to look for when hiring for digital roles.

What skills do you need?

‘Digital marketing’ is commonly used in job titles, whether it be assistant, executive or manager. But ‘digital marketing’ covers a broad range of channels that often require completely different skillsets. 

The panel argued that you as the employer need to be clear in what role you’re hiring for and what skills you’re looking for. Naturally, that leads to a clear job description and a stronger chance of a successful long-term hire.

Darren Low explained: “You have to frame the question to the potential employee correctly, as digital is a broadchurch. More specifically, what is that person going to do? Someone working in social media is a totally different animal to someone working in conversion rate optimisation.”

At interview stage, you must be clear on what you’re looking for, as Katharine continued “Be truthful on job descriptions, you mustn’t sugarcoat … false promises can lead to unrealistic expectations.” 

Cat Agostino argued that greater clarity throughout the hiring process will enable the successful candidate to perform well and deliver results. She said: “If there is a lot of Excel work or data inputting involved – things that might not be seen as ‘fun’ – tell your candidate! 

“Recruitment is a two way street; you’re looking for a great candidate, but they’re looking for a great and honest employer as well.”

Creativity or experience?

Traditionally, recruiters have favoured experience when looking at candidates, but there is a growing sense that creativity is more favourable, particularly in industries like this. 

Katharine believes employers need to strike a balance between the two. She explained: “It massively depends on what you’re looking for, and who you are. At the interview, creativity can come through in different ways – how you show that you’re different, through your skillset, background, or personality. It’s only by taking on different characters that your business can grow.”

Darren stressed the importance of really understanding what creativity is. He reminded us that creativity is not just about “drawing pictures”. He said: “Creativity is about problem-solving. Having a creative thought process allows someone to be taught anything.” 

He also knows that the best businesses introduce creativity in the hiring process. He explained: “Your own creativity is important – hiring two people part-time might be better for the business than one person doing everything, as it gives them the chance to bounce off each other and come up with more ideas.”

And what about apprentices?

The number of apprenticeship starts has increased by 170,000 over the last two years, a 10% increase. But are they right for digital marketing roles? 

Darren believes so, and has a track record of “hiring a number of apprentices as developers and social media managers – but you have to be prepared to invest into training them, especially if you’re not primarily a marketing operation”. 

Cat agrees, having hired apprentices from her community herself: “This shows the importance of building a positive work culture, where the apprentices will naturally gain loyalty and build tangible skills.”

Do ‘Jack of all trades’ exist, and should you hire them?

There’s often a desire to get someone in who can do everything – a ‘Jack of all trades’. These seem to be mythical figures. Cary always hears from clients the phrase “We need someone to run a department”. For graduates, that’s an awful lot to expect. 

He said: “If marketing is a big part of your business then you need to allocate budget to it just like you would with a sales team.” 

However, he still believes “you can get away with relatively junior people as long as you understand that investing in the team will drive the brand forward, and you don’t expect them to do everything themselves.”

Darren agreed, as he’s “never found anyone who can do everything to a high standard” and reiterated his point about hiring multiple part timers so they can concentrate on different aspects of the digital sphere.

Please contact Give A Grad A Go for support with Hiring Marketers for your business.