It’s not too early to start thinking about what is ahead for your marketing career with 2017 quickly approaching. What skills should you improve? How can you make yourself more appealing to potential employers, or position yourself for a promotion?
To provide you with some direction, I recently spoke to executive digital and multichannel recruiting expert, Jerry Bernhart. As principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, Jerry has conducted searches as well as recruited and placed top digital and multichannel marketers, with clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies, for more than 20 years.
Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.
Michelle Robin: How different is searching for a job today than say just two years ago?
Jerry Bernhart: Two years isn’t a lot of time. There hasn’t been a dramatic amount of difference, particularly since the recession. But I can give you some examples of what is going on in the industry today.
Right now, I am wrapping up a recent search for a manager of e-commerce — a really hot segment. When this search started two months ago, I surfaced eight to ten candidates, and I lost half of them in the first four weeks because my client couldn’t move quickly enough. This shows an enormous demand for this type of person.
With another search for a CRM (customer relationship management) manager, I had candidate who ended up with four external offers plus a counter offer. For best-of-breed talent, this is what I am seeing happen often.
Robin: What is your number one tip for job seekers looking to get ahead in their marketing career?
Bernhart: Keep learning. The beauty of digital is it makes it so easy to learn online. There is so much out there and things are moving so quickly, it’s essential to stay on top of things. The day you quit learning is the day you need to quit marketing.
If I could add another thing, I would say to be open regarding location. If you’re not living in a top metro area, look at other places. There are a lot of opportunities out there and you may not find them in your own hometown because you are in a smaller market. It’s kind of like broadcasting. The top news anchors didn’t start in New York City. So for young professionals especially, go to where the opportunities are and expand your scope of knowledge and responsibilities. Do it in small steps though, so you don’t take a big hit on the cost of living.
Robin: How important is your online brand for digital marketing professionals? Do employers actually look at your personal website, social media profiles, etc.?
Bernhart: It’s critical! You should think about your personal and online brand as often as you get your haircut. Think about it, you don’t know how long you’re going to be working at your current employer. You can’t afford to ignore your brand. If you don’t know how to brand yourself, how can you brand an organization?
The first thing human resources people do, even more than hiring managers, is Google you and look you up on LinkedIn. They may have your résumés, but the problem with résumés is you can’t always believe what is on there. So, put your personal URL on your résumé.
I have lots of candidates who have side projects. You can use that as the perfect opportunity to show a potential employer what is going on. I’ve never seen it have a negative impact on someone’s candidacy. In fact, I prefer they are upfront and transparent about it.