“What we’ve seen is people in digital marketing tend to change jobs faster than traditional marketers,” said Wendy Heng, associate director for sales and marketing at Robert Walters Singapore. “Instead of the traditional three year stint, the timeframe is around 18 months.”
According to her, companies stating that they wanted to focus on digital but not translating over to reality, or another employer offering a more “technically advanced” or challenging proposition, were some of the most common reasons given for job jumping.
Heng added that it is not to say digital candidates are short-term thinkers in terms of career paths, but because the field of digital marketing is continually evolving, most candidates are more focused on the scope of work and room for growth when evaluating opportunities.
“They are more concerned about how serious the company is about digital, the kind of investments being made in platform, people and marketing budget commitments,” she said. “One thing that strikes me about digital practitioners is that they’re very passionate about their work, and are really into advancements in technology and tools.”
Heng added that due to this passion for knowledge and taking on interesting challenges, it also means that talent retention is also more difficult.
“Even if the company offers a clear path for career progression and growth over five years, there is no guarantee that the candidate will stick around,” she said. “Because things change and when the next big thing hits the market and new avenues open up, they will gravitate towards it.”
No digital, no prospects
On the flip side, companies looking for suitable candidates, will want those with “proven track record” said Heng, with many of the positions the firm has recruited for around companies that are just starting to go in to digital marketing.
“So they look for people who have done something ‘disruptive’ in marketing and technology,” she added. “If you’ve worked on something that has changed the way consumers interact with a brand, that is something that companies, especially in sectors that are just catching up are looking for.”
Heng said that it’s not about hiring someone to maintain a Facebook Page or company website.
“They’ve all gone beyond that,” she added. “Every company is looking for things that will set them apart from competitors, give them the edge and it is easier to achieve via digital means.”
Heng reported that overall, the increase in number of digital marketing roles has been “quite tremendous” over the last 2-3 years. These positions range from generalist digital marketing roles to specialised skillsets such as SEO, social media and analytics.
“I’ve had many clients say ‘I have to hire marketing manager, it would be great if they also had a lot of social media experience as well’,” Heng added. “It’s that ‘pow ka leow’ [everything all in] mentality in the search for candidates.”
In terms of where the talent lies, Heng said that when it comes to filling the digital marketer ranks, the most viable candidates tend to come from technology companies and advertising agencies.
“I personally find that there’s better talent on the agency-side versus the brand marketer side, especially if you’re looking for very niche skill sets within digital marketing itself,” she said. “They have some really, really good people within agency ranks, and I won’t be surprised if we see a huge shift moving forward.”
But agency or not, Heng added that it is safe to say that any marketer that doesn’t have some sort of experience in this area, will find it difficult moving forward. “Because every client is looking for it.”
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