Digital Marketing Students

Why Are Irish Employers Trying to Recruit Bad Digital Marketers?

Over the past year I’ve helped lots of aspiring Digital Marketers through the NCI Certificate in Digital Marketing. Something which I had as a personal goal for some time now, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience.

A common theme we discuss is around the skills needed in Digital Marketing. Students are often guided by what job positions are available. The feedback I get is that the roles advertised are unrealistic both in their scope and the experience needed.

I had a quick search for roles available and came across a Digital Marketing Executive one – assuming this was an entry level role.

Some of the highlights

  • 3-4 years experience in a digital / online marketing and communication working at Executive / Manager level
  • Devise, implement and execute the Digital & Communications marketing strategy
  • Oversee and drive SEO activities and Email marketing campaigns
  • Proven track record in Project management and campaign management with the ability to multi-task and prioritise
  • Highly skilled at using Google analytics to measure results, optimise campaigns and reporting
  • Strong database/email marketing experience
  • Experience of managing corporate events and sponsorships

Here’s the problem, someone with 3-4 years experience is highly unlikely to have the technical skills to be an expert at Organic Search, Paid Search, CRM, Email Marketing, Project Management, Social Media, Copywriting – and also have the marketing ability to create a strategy, develop comms, manage agencies and corporate events – the list goes on.

If I look back at the early part of my own career, each role I’ve taken on has added at least one core skill to my capability. In the beginning this was SEO, then PPC, then Email, then Analytics. That took 5 years. This meant completely immersing myself in each new area as well as retaining advanced knowledge of each previously developed skill.

This role, and similar are basically wish-lists. This will attract all rounders, and more likely spoofers, bluffers and those just out of their depth due to the wide range of skills required. This is before you consider the visionaries, goddesses, ninjas and growth gurus.

Those that end up in these roles are often box tickers who have heard of enough of these terms are desperate enough to say “Yeah I know in-depth link building strategies, and also I can host your annual awards gala”.

Digital Marketing is a wide area, and like any craft requires suitable dedication to develop that craft. We should not expect a 25 year old graduate to have the capability of a seasoned marketer just because the area they operate in is Digital.

I often tell my students that I would happily hire a 35 year old with a background in marketing, business, comms over a 25 year old with digital experience. The 35 year old only needs to develop digital skills and has most likely already got experience of personal development over a 25 year old who only has general skills in digital marketing.

Those seeking employment in Digital Marketing in Ireland have my sympathy, this is a tough industry to get into when recruiters have an under-appreciation of the whole digital space and what it takes to really develop ability in some of the sub sections of marketing.

One of the best pieces of advice I received when moving from IT to Marketing was:

“Marketing really is not difficult, but there is a bloody lot of it”


So why should we expect someone to master it in 3-4 years?

Barry is a digital marketing consultant who has helped companies generate over €100M over the past 10 years. He runs Handmade Marketing to help generate online revenue for ambitious businesses.

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