A wake up call
Think back… when was the first time you remember using the term ‘Social Media’? How about ‘Facebook’ or ‘Twitter’? Despite it not being too far back in your distant memories, there is a good chance you’ll find it difficult to pinpoint exactly when we started recruiting professional staff to help businesses make the most of such activities. At the a time when everyone was running around trying to select and implement ERP solutions in the late 1990’s, it would have been laughable to have imagined you might be working alongside a social media manager let alone an SEO expert.
Its unlikely that many other businesses are maturing at such a rate and this has exposed weaknesses in the level of supply of high quality professionals with the necessary skills and credentials to add value to their employer’s businesses. Given Today’s expert SEO consultant may lose traction overnight with a slight tweak by ‘Google’, its easy to see vulnerabilities in the availability of quality candidates.
Supply and demand
Whilst the market in general recognises these are genuine roles and that when filled with quality staff, they deliver real value, the demand at present is simply outstripping supply and 2014 is unlikely to see this abate. Those with a compelling employment proposition and have already turned the corner are gaining real competitive edge. For others, its time to play catch-up or be held to ransom by the fees levied by Digital Consultancies.
Either way, the demand is established so when it comes to supply the classic ‘buy or build’ challenge leads you to either building your own team and ‘rolling the dice’ on the long term skills needed (in a fast moving field) or building a relationship with a commercial digital partner and buy the skills in on a contract basis as and when required.
This last point is particularly important to consider. With each new trend, or change on search algorithm, or latest social engagement tool leads to a requirement of new skills and potentially leads to new roles. Roles, to some extent, which may not have been previously contemplated by most businesses. Think about mobile apps. Until smart phones reach popular status, most businesses had little or no strategy when to came to mobile. Now, you are nowhere without a mobile enabled digital engagement plan.
The outlook for contractors and freelancers
Its not just MBN who believe this to be the case. According to forbes.com, the most ‘hotly tipped’ new marketing job for 2014 is the ‘Director of Content’ – said to be integral for reducing customer acquisition and retention costs.
Our view is that this may lead to more short-term contract staff being required or a greater freelance staff market. In both circumstances, the logic should be obvious. Businesses employ staff for known needs and business as usual and use the contract or freelance experts to create immediate competencies in response to strategic change outside of our control (for example, when Google change their search algorithm).
Ultimately here, the plan should be obvious for organisations. Focus on your core competencies and strengths. Focus on the brand and have to other activities picked up by specialists on a needs must basis. This model of course puts a large onus on the business being able to move with corporate agility and in experience; this is where most businesses will struggle. The risk as a result will be that the business ends up following their competition rather than leading it.
What does this mean for candidates?
The challenge to job prospects remains largely the same: competition. Good CVs may help but its most likely that the trend to demonstrate a portfolio or show real of high quality examples following the STAR principles (setting out the situation, tasks, actions performed and results delivered) will be key. We expect to see more unorthodox approaches adopted including proof of concept digital engagement techniques being worked up by candidates to help secure the ideal role (something we have seen in the advertising sector with viral advertising concepts). At the very least, candidates will need to have some knowledge of ux/ui theory and design, digital asset management and search marketing and why it is perceived as so important.
Conclusion – get in touch
So… this is our ‘starter for ten’ for the New Year. Digital is likely to represent one of the fastest growing and most exciting sectors and the winners here are businesses and candidates with a plan. Want to know more about developing such a plan? Get in touch here and find out more about the services we provide to help businesses understand their unmet digital resourcing needs. If you’re a candidate and want help finding you next role, click here.