Anyone who has been involved in digital marketing for the last ten to fifteen years will know there have been some pretty seismic changes.
It seems we’ve only got used to one platform when another one comes along. Google changes their algorithms and suddenly our sites are no longer ranking. New tech for measuring performance puts our competitors at a better advantage.
Not only has the digital landscape changed but customers are savvy, demanding more bang for their bucks.
For the digital marketing professional it’s a constant challenge. One of the biggest problems is how to keep your skill set on track to meet future client and employee demands.
There is a digital skills shortage in the UK at the moment and it’s costing the UK economy more than £2 billion a year, a figure that’s set to rise over the next decade. If you want to make yourself more professionally desirable, therefore, building on your existing skills is vital.
It can also be quite daunting. Which skills are best? Where can you learn them? How much is it going to cost? What do employers really want?
The first step in deciding what new skills you need is to carry out an audit of what you already have. If you’re in a role at the moment, you may want to make a list of what it is you currently do exactly. Perhaps you’re planning to apply for a job. Taking a look at the spec to see what skills are required can be quite enlightening. Does it match your current abilities and skills?
The trick here is to find out what you have and how it works for your business or future employers. More now than ever, job applicants in the digital sector need to demonstrate what they’ve done to keep their skills up to date in a constantly changing environment.
It may help to get a third party to take a closer look at your digital skills set and make suggestions about what you are missing. Platforms like LinkedIn are great for reaching out to expertise that may not be available in your local area. You might want to employ a digital marketing coach for a short while to work with you in improving those desirable skills.
Whatever you do, it’s important to have a clear idea of where your skill set rates at the moment and equally imperative you understand where the shortfalls are. You should, however, bear one thing in mind – as human beings we tend to overestimate our abilities and its important to be brutally honest with yourself.
When you’re working hard and trying to meet your targets, it can be hard to keep up to date with the latest changes in digital marketing. Sometimes all you want to do is sit down and relax with a glass of wine and forget about all things social media, landing page and pay per click advertising.
It’s easy to get into bad habits which is how so many of us end up with a skills shortage in the first place. Put aside at least some time each week to check what’s hot and what’s not in digital marketing so that you remain as current as possible. You can use RSS feeds and subscribe to digital marketing platforms to send you automatic emails or notifications. You might also like to keep a look out for webinars by industry experts or even new eBook releases on sites like Amazon.
However you do it, understanding a market that is often in flux and changing rapidly is vital if you want to ensure your digital skills set remains relevant in today’s market.
One issue you may have at work is that a new strategy or marketing tool might come along but you don’t have an opportunity to use it. This can be frustrating and it may also be a key factor in you not bothering to engage with it at all.
When it comes to new things, you should always be looking at ways to introduce the relevant tools into your daily practice. This doesn’t always have to be at work. If you have a project at home, then practicing these new skills with that might be all you need.
The trouble is that we can have lots of theory clogging up our brains. Unless you combine it with hard practice, however, you’re probably not going to learn all you need to.
There are a few ways to do it at work, of course. You could ask your boss to let you get involved in a new marketing initiative if it means you are likely to learn new things. A lot will depend on your manager and the makeup of your team but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pester and make a nuisance of yourself. Persistence can pay off.
The other important step is to take charge of your own continuing professional development or CPD. Going on new courses and getting various certificates provides you with strong evidence to put on your CV that you’re a person who likes to learn new things. Most new employers will be looking for digital marketing professionals who are keen to take charge of their own learning and stay current.
Finally, doing nothing shouldn’t be an option. If you want to be relevant in your career, it’s up to you to address any skills shortage you may have. While you can learn a lot online and from various free sites, undertaking some additional formal training plants smaller markers for your future career success.
The vast majority of businesses, from SMEs to the big corporations, know how important the digital environment is for their own personal success. Taking a closer look at your digital skills set is vital if you want to appeal to more companies, give yourself greater opportunities and stay ahead of the competition when it’s time to apply for new jobs.
There’s no doubt that digital skills shortage is a big issue in many countries. According to the Open University it’s actually reaching crisis levels.
If you work in digital marketing, however, this is also a great opportunity to boost your employability and your reputation within the industry. Addressing any skills shortage, in fact, could ensure you’re ahead of the competition when you apply for that next big job. All you need to do is take control.