Marketing has always contained different elements but it has become increasingly specialised in the last few years. It is more technical, more digital and more targeted.

As the Regional Marketing Director of an Asia Pacific team that has moved dramatically from generalist to specialist, I have to make sure I recruit just the right skills into my team on an ongoing basis to keep up with the changing landscape.

1. Recruit for the right roles

Previously, applicants were hired into generalist marketing roles such as marketing manager, advertising manager or copywriter. Now, the scope of these roles are becoming more focused to ensure teams onboard a specific set of skills, with roles such as digital content specialist, UX (user experience) manager and channel marketing specialist becoming more common.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. With such technical skills crucial for the success of a lot of marketing jobs, what does that mean from a recruitment perspective? Looking at it technically means it is essential to recruit a different way to get the right talent. Potential customers can be contacted through a seemingly endless, and growing, supply of channels so you must make sure you recruit experts in each channel.

2. Test specialist skills 

None of these new marketing specialisations work apart from each other in silos, they sit in a highly aligned matrix working together. If I need to employ a social media specialist in China, I need to know where they fit into the matrix and make sure the potential job seekers have the skills required to be successful in the role.

Unfortunately it is all too easy to put down technical marketing skills on a resume which don’t really exist. For example, most of us could say we use Facebook but how many of us know how to reach our target audience in a meaningful manner and translate those post reaches into leads? And when hiring digital analysts I must make sure they are truly competent in Google Analytics, with the ability to analyse data and make feasible business recommendations.

Therefore it is essential technical skills are tested before job offers are made. With automated resume scanning technology often at play in large organisations it is often just assumed that the applicant is proficient. 

If you need help upskilling to remain relevant, here are some free courses you can take to develop your technical skills.

3. How to interview

Behavioural based interviews are no longer sufficient. This is where recruiters can help. Specialist testing and subject matter experts ensure that the claimed capabilities are real and at what level. This is particularly important for me, as being regional means that I often can’t recruit face to face. 

For example, if you are hiring a content specialist, get them to write a post for your company as part of the interviewing process. This can be done in a controlled environment, so you know they have written it themselves. Get a coding expert to change the code for an automated form you use regularly. For our Google Analytics tests we gave applicants a login and told them to review specific areas and provide insights. For the analysis we gave them a sample dashboard and asked them to write a page of commentary. 

Therefore it is essential technical skills are tested before job offers are made. 

You should also make sure that the applicants have an interview with current team members with those specialist skills so they can spot real expertise more easily.  

These are time efficient ways to test applicants and should require no additional outlay. 

If the skills are more complex you could consider hiring the person for a day or half a day to get them to run through tasks you would need them to undertake. Alternatively there are lots of different online tests you can utilise. 

The main thing to remember is that it is critical to make sure the applicants do have the skills you need, as it is a costly process to find a replacement. Taking your time to make the right decision in the first place is essential. 

For help with your hiring decisions contact Michael Page

Summary

Ensure you're recruiting the digital skills you need into your team and keeping pace with the changing landscape by:

  • Recruiting for the right roles and being explicit about the focus of the role and the specific skills required
  • Test applicants on their abilities to ensure their skills meet your standards and have not been overstated before job offers are made
  • Engage specialist recruiters or subject matter experts to help you evaluate the true measure of an applicant's skills
  • Take your time to make the right decision, as finding a replacement is a costly process
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