Let’s face it; even the best colleges in the greatest university system in the world aren’t equipped to produce a strong digital marketer right out of school right now. And when demand for reliable digital marketing talent is at an all-time high, this is a problem.
Higher education’s struggle to develop quality digital marketers isn’t a knock on their credibility and prestige—it’s a matter of time and logistics. Digital marketing is evolving at a terrific rate, any anything students learn today is likely to be nearly obsolete by the time they land a steady marketing job. Colleges can’t keep up.
Higher education’s struggle to develop quality digital marketers isn’t a knock on their credibility and prestige—it’s a matter of time and logistics.
Can you imagine relying on the same digital strategy today as you were even just two or three years ago? Our understanding of so many digital pillars—social, SEO, mobile, automation, analytics—has fundamentally changed over a handful of years. And anyone who isn’t constantly updating to best practices and innovating for the future is getting left far behind.
You probably couldn’t start writing a marketing textbook now that wouldn’t be out of date by the time it was published. (TWEET THIS) Add to that lag the time it takes to get an academic curriculum changed, and you end up with class after graduating class of students trained with the wrong information, or in the wrong fields entirely.
Where to Look Instead
The demand for effective digital marketers has never been higher, and the supply of qualified talent isn’t keeping up. But if you don’t get the digital capacity and know-how when you need it, you’re at imminent risk of falling behind those do.
So where do you go to get the proven digital marketers you need to grow?
Drawing from within the Industry
Great digital marketers are forged in the crucible of experience. They’ve honed their skills in an agency or department or elsewhere alongside other talented marketers. They’ve made mistakes and learned from them. They’ve seen firsthand the recent changes to marketing, and are always looking ahead.
These are ideal candidates for your mission-critical digital marketing efforts. When there’s a lot on the line, you want people who have been there before and are technically and professionally equipped to handle it.
Of course, the problem with getting experienced marketing talent is that they are usually already employed, not to mention expensive. And catching the attention of a busy marketer who is not looking for work is difficult to say the least.
Recruiting College-Age Talent
Most colleges on their own are doing a poor job equipping a student with the knowledge they need to thrive in a fast-paced digital landscape. But that’s not to say that all graduates are completely incapable.
An enterprising few will have taken the initiative to get experience, follow thought leaders, and prove their value. They’ve developed strong technical and communications skills and have the ability to self-educate. If you are confident in your internal recruitment’s ability to find them, you’ll usually see that these “diamonds in the rough” are great candidates, especially for execution of your less-critical digital tactics.
And don’t overlook the potential in young, self-trained digital natives with expertise and proven ability. There are endless young app developers, web designers, content creators and more and that have a strong foundation and need just a little refinement to turn their digital skills toward advanced marketing. They can be just as qualified, if not more so, than a counterpart with a degree but little practical skill. This is a big opportunity many companies overlook.
Digital Marketing Staffing
A third source of digital talent is a staffing firm that specializes in digital marketing. A digital marketing staffing agency gives you access to the marketing capacity you need for temporary projects and cyclical business needs. They make it their job to develop vast networks of digital staffing talent to come work for their clients.
This gives you a more flexible solution to your constantly shifting workforce needs, and you won’t be stuck with a lackluster full-time hire.
It’s difficult to say where the future of marketing in higher education will go. Even top colleges are struggling to keep up with the current pace of the industry, and it’s not slowing down. Yet the need for fresh talent isn’t going anywhere.
Don’t count on universities to consistently produce the stream of capable marketers you need. Get creative with your sourcing or get stuck with sub-par talent.