Next generation of marketers lack key skills businesses need

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

A new report from the UK’s Direct Marketing Association has shown that new recruits to the marketing sector are often lacking the essential marketing, social and personal skills required to do the job.

To help businesses and aspiring marketers better understand what skills are most in demand in the industry, the ‘Data & Marketing: Attracting the Next Generation’ report asked managers of organisations, large and small, what skills they look for when recruiting for entry-level marketers.

According to the Data & Marketing Association’s research, over three quarters (83%) of managers named at least one personal/social skill (i.e. team work / creativity etc.) as essential and 76% named at least one core skill (i.e. good written and spoken communication etc.) as essential for entry-level marketing employees to have.

Behind these two areas, 69% stated that marketing skills (i.e. email marketing / social media marketing / event planning etc.) were essential when hiring.

“Employers are clearly looking for well-rounded marketing candidates, with a good grounding in soft skills, basic skills such as good communication”, said Kate Burnett, General Manager of DMA Talent. 

“Possessing technical marketing skills in addition will help put candidates ahead of the curve if the personal and core skills are present.”

“More young people need to be made aware of what the industry can offer them and which skills will help them carve a successful career.”

Technical skills will likely continue to grow in importance in the future as the remit of the marketing function continues to expand thanks to the GDPR and technological advancements - with data, compliance and software now intertwined with many marketers’ job roles.

‘Soft skills’ hardest to recruit for

Just over half of the sample (52%) stated they struggle to find at least one of the social/personal skills deemed important.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, data skills are also difficult to locate, the DMA said, with 35% of the sample indicating this. Although the overall report findings suggest that many employers find personal skills harder to recruit for than more technical skills.

“As the report highlights, many aspiring marketers are not equipped with the right skillsets when applying for roles in the data and marketing industry and so businesses, education providers and government must start working together to change this”, Burnett added. 

“We need to align employer expectations more closely with the skills that young and inexperienced candidates are developing in the education system.”

There is a growing range of key skills now demanded of marketers and so transparency and clarity in job specifications is crucial.

“If employers are to find the right candidates they need to be clear about what they are looking for - a generalist? Or a specialist?” Burnett said. 

“They also need to be realistic about the skillsets entry level employees will already possess. If they don’t necessarily have the ideal skillset, employers must be willing to invest in relevant training and development.”

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