Why is digital marketing recruitment a challenge?

Digital Marketing recruitment can be a challenge

Marketing is an essential backbone to almost every business where plans for traditional PR & marketing methods are increasingly being passed over in favour of a digital approach.  Potential and existing customers are increasing the amount of time engrossed in a digital world. This means that companies have had to adapt to ensure they have a well-oiled persona across digital channels by recruiting new staff with sufficient skills and knowledge to prepare and manage positive digital marketing activity.

However, it is not as easy as you may think to recruit staff for these purposes despite the fact that there is no shortage of individuals wanting to start a career in digital marketing.

Here are a few reasons why some organisations may find the recruitment process a challenge:

Not every candidate will possess the full required skill set

Digital marketing covers a broad range of different marketing, technical, social and content-driven strategies so it is important to look for candidates with niches skill sets if they are to contribute effectively as part of a large marketing team.  The alternative is someone with the knowledge of a wide range of digital channels that can manage on their own to an adequate level and also liaise with agencies or 3rd parties for additional activity.

Digital channels can include everything from producing content on your own website, advertising on external sites, Adwords management, social media, search engine optimisation, analytics and data reporting, web editing and influencer marketing amongst other activity.

There is always something new to learn

To be an expert in every digital channel is almost impossible, so businesses that are just beginning to expand into digital marketing may experience some difficulty in finding a candidate with knowledge in every field that they need.  It’s easy to think that you may be able to employ someone and then all your concerns about needing a digital marketing agency or consultant are gone but it is not that easy when looking to achieve an ROI and putting on the weight on an individual’s shoulders.

You may find one candidate that is very experienced in website editing and development but they may not understand how to align this with search engine optimisation (SEO) activity or they fail to grasp how to use social media for exposure and increasing connections.  It’s a rare occasion when you get to interview a candidate that is an expert across all required digital marketing channels for a business no matter how well their CV may read, particularly for grads and mid-tier staff.  In fact, it’s better that they know where the gaps are in their armoury so they are in a better position to plug them in the future rather than play guessing games and burn valuable budgets.

Digital marketing degree courses are too generalised

As mentioned above, there are many aspects to digital marketing. In order to cover the wide spectrum of channels, general marketing degree courses can often cover an insufficient amount on each subject.  The reason I say this is that there is often a gap between the learning phase and actually putting the skills into practice in a business environment. This is often a great case for those looking to get into the industry to take advantage of work experience, gap years or even apprenticeships.

Google can make hundreds of algorithm changes every year so SEO tactics that work one year can potentially have a negative impact the next year.  You can’t expect a grad to be up to speed with this information.

Digital Marketing as an industry is still young when in comparison to other areas of work.  Not only is it fast moving, the digital channels themselves continue to evolve at a fast rate.  The tools used at the start of a degree from a functional perspective may be out of date by the time they are used in a real-world working environment.  Obviously, marketing planning and strategic considerations are likely to remain intact but its where you get your hands dirty that problem often lies.

Can you separate the experts from the self-proclaimed ninjas?

A prime example would be with search engine optimisation, this is an industry immersed with ‘SEO experts, leaders and ninjas’ as you will see across Twitter but despite the claims these individuals often have very little experience and cannot be trusted as a learning resource.  The SEO industry requires in-depth understanding and appreciation of the algorithm

The SEO industry requires in-depth understanding and appreciation of the Google algorithm and knowledge of Google’s webmaster guidelines.   In fact, individuals that have followed misleading information, out of date tactics and bad advice can ultimately do more harm than good to a website.

This means that although candidates may have a reasonable understanding of the digital channels you want to focus on, it is not guaranteed that it will be in-depth enough for your company’s needs.

Keeping staff up to date with changes in the industry can be expensive

Even if you have found an absolutely perfect candidate to join your digital marketing team, the continuously evolving nature of the industry means that training can be an ongoing process that requires a training budget or at least time planning into employee diary to stay up to date with the latest trends, technology and industry news.

These ongoing training costs are not always financially viable due to the time it takes to get up to speed.  It is sometimes more economical to employ the services of an external agency or consultant that can deliver the results you need faster without the need for additional staff training, this also reduces the risk of failure.  This really just points towards careful planning and preparation for the new recruit and a full understanding of their abilities to get the best from them.

Educational courses can’t keep up with changes in the industry

Digital marketing channels change rapidly, so current trends can become outdated very quickly. Educational courses at both college and university levels take years, so some aspects (not all) from the beginning of the courses may be irrelevant and outdated by the time students pass.

This can mean that even newly qualified candidates won’t necessarily possess completely up to date knowledge that meets your digital marketing requirements.

Senior management may not know what to look for in a candidate

Businesses looking to recruit new staff to look after their digital marketing often because their existing staff don’t have the skills or knowledge that will cover it adequately. Senior Management, in particular, may not have fully adapted to modern digital marketing channels.

The challenge this presents is if the recruiting team cannot adequately recognise and assess a candidate’s skills during the recruitment process the role can be offered to the wrong person, which can prove very costly in the long run.


When the digital marketing recruitment breaks down and the wrong candidate is employed this can lead to businesses needing to recruit further staff to cover the gaps they were not expecting or to get the digital consultants back who had made way for the new internal member of the team.

If outsourcing recruitment then invest time with a specialist digital marketing recruitment agency that will effectively source and screen the very best candidates.  Make sure you fully understand the objectives of the role and that this has been relayed to the candidate.  Don’t be afraid to challenge the information on a CV and ask for real-world working scenarios.  When the new starter does arrive make sure they have the right software, resources and support to effectively perform in that role.

At RAD SEO, we can act as that missing link between a business and a recruitment agency providing a resource to assist with scoping out a new digital role and even sit on your panel to interview candidates to assess suitability and provide independent feedback on their capacity to blossom into future digital marketing stars.

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