We’ve been hiring a lot this year. And it’s great to be part of the hiring process. You get to meet a variety of new people from different backgrounds who can bring a fresh perspective to the organization.
But hiring is not easy. Particularly in Asia, and in our industry, where it’s super competitive, always changing, and in many cases has a limited supply of candidates.
There are certain interesting themes I’ve come across through my recent interviews that I’d like to call out. These themes repeat themselves through the onslaught of interviews I’ve done in the past three months. And they can serve as a guide of sorts. They can help us better prepare for what candidates are gearing for these days. And they can give us a clue towards what we emphasize more in our respective organizations to attract this talent.
The challenges around talent will not go away. And in fact, will only get more difficult for our industry. Your individual ability to dynamically adjust your organization to these shifting challenges and themes will be the ideal goal.
However, first understanding what the challenges and trends are, should be the first step. Below is my attempt.
1. From specialist to a generalist: More and more candidates don’t want to be stuck or pigeonholed in a single discipline. Almost everyone I’ve met is taking a broader view of digital marketing in relation to their career and wants to be part of an “integrated”, “cross-channel” team that sits across all mediums. As an agency, we’re trying to adapt to this demand by rethinking the positions we offer. An example of this is creating “biddable media” positions that allow candidates to be part of the entire “biddable” environment, be it SEM (search engine marketing), social ads, and RTB (real-time bidding). The candidates will gain exposure across search, social, and display all in one go, and this diversity is more attractive to them than just a one-channel view 100 percent of the time.
2. Fast track to career advancement: Candidates want to know what the company can offer them to grow and advance in their careers. And because supply is quite thin across many markets right now, companies are fighting over this limited pool, thereby giving the candidates more leverage than before. Key themes I’m getting asked are around types and levels of training programs we have in place, any senior management mentoring programs, ability to work in different markets, and clear examples of how other people have grown their careers in our organization. The greater your training offering, and the more diverse and interesting it is, will put you in a good place to attract ambitious talent.
3. Technologists welcome: Another interesting trend I’m seeing is the flurry of people with core technical backgrounds applying for positions. These would range anywhere from data analysts, infrastructure designers, IT consultants, and software engineers alike. They realize that advertisers and agencies work with volumes of data and this will only grow as the world becomes more and more digitized. Our industry will be in greater demand for talent with technical skillsets around the use and application of data for business. This realization has forced us to rethink the type of people we need and in some cases it has created new roles in our group we had not yet imagined. Data people welcome.
4. Sales people you’re not: Another trend that’s quite apparent these days is the lack of pure sales skills I see among the people I’ve met. I see it also among the experienced people. It’s absolutely the most visible area and I argue one of the most important areas to nail. In being a digital person, we’re at the crux of technology, business, and creativity. Our ability to sell our ideas, products, and services across these three areas will be increasingly critical to our success and our careers. It’s not easy to make the complex simple. But the people that can do it stand out. As a primer, go check out Inc’s top 10 “how to sell” books of all time.
5. Cultural interests: A final theme I see is the increased interest in working abroad and gaining exposure in a new culture. I guess this need of people has always been there, but for some reason, seems more apparent as of late. Our ability as an organization to accommodate to these requests, whether immediate or in the mid-term may be a determining factor to pulling in top talent. Companies that have market exchange programs or clear examples of staff shifting across countries are wise to emphasize these.
These are just my firsthand views of what I’m seeing out there. I would love to hear other viewpoints from readers. The more we can share, the better position we’ll be in to attract and retain top quality talent.
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