While the traditional media job market is shrinking in size year after year, alternative storytelling careers are popping up in unexpected places.
Since 2004, job listings for “journalists” decreased by more than 10%. “Content” jobs, however, have tripled over the same time-period.
Brands and businesses are looking to gain an edge over competitors by utilizing content marketing as a tactic.
Whether you’re seeking candidates for a position at your agency or hiring for your in-house team, the same basic skills are necessary to look for in competitive applicants.
Being a content marketer encompasses many roles: one day you need a storyteller and the next, a data journalist. Candidates often have to wear the hat of graphic designer, PR strategist, and social media manager.
With such a breadth and depth of expertise required, my team at Fractl wanted to know: Which most sought-after job skills are required for content marketing jobs in 2019?
From 2017 to 2018 alone, there was a 33% increase in content job openings.
While more spots are opening up, candidates searching for content marketing-related jobs are also on the rise.
So, what are the prerequisites you should required in candidates when hiring for a content marketing job in 2019?
In a new content marketing job skills study, we scraped over 1,400 job listings from Indeed during the week of January 6th of this year to find out what hiring managers are looking for in their ideal candidate.
The Most Important Hard Skills to Look for In Content Marketing Candidates
The top 3 hard skills required in these postings were “Social Media literacy”, “Content Creation”, and “SEO”.
Social Media literacy
While social media has proven to be much too important a strategy to hand off to your intern, our study found it was still a top skill required for intern-level content marketing positions.
Considering that people often find out about a brand on social media before going to its website, social media is about more than just knowing how to post on various platforms.
Here’s a tip from Ella Dawson, senior Social Media Editor at TED:
“Stop treating social media as a shallow field that doesn’t require professional expertise… Making fun of the “social media intern” during a PR crisis…erases the valuable professional expertise of an entire industry of capable, hardworking adults.”
Before you decide your social media position is “intern-level”, understand that if you expect to strategically use social media to grow your business, you need to hire a candidate with more professional expertise than typically interns demonstrate.
What’s interesting about social media being included in these content marketing job descriptions is that social media is often it’s own position.
In fact, some large teams will have a dedicated team member for each platform, in which they are required to schedule content on an editorial calendar (in alignment with the rest of their team), respond to customers on their platform (in brand voice), create and curate content for their platform, perform competitor analyses, and deeply examine their own data to track performance metrics like reach, engagement, and overall ROI.
Any role that combines social media with other core content marketing responsibilities signals to the industry that as a hiring manager, you should be expecting more well-rounded content marketers in 2019—people who can understand not just what makes good content but how to promote it.
TL;DR: If you’re hiring for “social media”, the candidate should have at least a comprehensive understanding of all of the above responsibilities.
And don’t hire for an “intern level position” if you’re not okay with an intern learning-on-the-job and being the voice of your brand.
Despite “content creation” being the first thing you think of when you think of what a content marketer does, it was only mentioned in just over half of the job listings.
What does content creation entail? While a broad term, content creation generally means producing content for a website or platform from ideation to publish.
If you need an infographic for your blog, this is what “content creation” looks like:
- Coming up with an idea for the infographic
- Finding a source (using an existing data set or creating your own)
- Analyzing insights
- Creating a graphic
- Writing compelling copy (that is also SEO-friendly)
- Publishing it on your company’s website
The same process could be modified for creating video content, blog content, podcast content, social media content, etc.
While its okay if your candidate doesn’t have direct experience creating every single type of content out there, “content creation” as a skill can translate well to any platform or strategy.
If you are hiring someone to create content for your brand, make sure you include it in the job listing.
And, specify what types of content you need them to create!
Do you need video content? Social media content? Data storytelling? Blog content? Listicles? Long-form content?
Specify what you’re looking for in the description so that the appropriate candidates apply in the first place.
While most content marketers have a sufficient level of knowledge about SEO, is it really necessary to look for SEO experts when hiring for a position as a content marketer?
All signs point to yes, as this hard skill was mentioned in almost 40% of job postings.
For one thing, if you candidates aren’t familiar with keyword research, they’re missing an important strategy for determining what type of content people are looking for online.
It’s not enough to create amazing content anymore—you have to first know what types of content people want to see.
SEO is notoriously ever-changing; unless it’s your full-time job, it can seem impossible to stay on top of the latest tactics and Google Search changes.
If you need a member of your team to become knowledgeable in SEO, they should start by seeking to learn about SEO strategies and tactics that stand the test of time.
Have them read through SEO case studies, follow authoritative SEO-related websites and blogs, and follow leading SEO experts on social media to stay informed.
Other Top Skills
Additional skills mentioned by content marketing job postings were project management, design, and PR.
Surprisingly, paid social and paid search also made the list of 21 skills.
Given that so few job listings mentioned those skills overall, it’s more important to focus on the top ten.
You might not need your content marketer to run 50 paid ad campaigns a year, but it’s an added bonus if they have a rudimentary understanding of paid search and social—especially when creating content for those platforms.
The Soft Skills to Look Out for When Interviewing Content Marketing Candidates
As a hiring manager, you might be tempted to focus entirely on hard skills you need for your team.
But, it’s the soft skills that arguably are what allows a candidate to stand apart from the pack. Soft skills are what determines employee retention in the long run after you’ve picked a candidate.
Without considering the right soft skills required, you might find yourself hiring for the same position over and over again.
While it can be difficult to assess if a candidate has the right soft skills during the interview process, ask pointed questions that speak to the candidates ability to work with others, time management, and what they see their contribution being to the company’s larger goals.
The top-three most mentioned soft skills across all job postings were “interpersonal”, “hard working”, and “growth oriented”.
With “interpersonal” mentioned more than 54% of the time, this is the most prevalent soft skill mentioned from our study.
What does it mean to have good interpersonal skills?
Some examples are listening to your coworkers, excelling in teamwork and collaboration, being dependable, and expressing empathy.
While a candidate may be on their best behavior during the interview and impress you with their content marketing industry experience, it will quickly become obvious to your team that they aren’t a well-rounded candidate if they fail to exhibit good interpersonal skills after they’re hired.
HR knows that no amount of Social Media or SEO knowledge will save them if they’re difficult to work with.
In addition to being a benefit for your team, arguably, it’s these interpersonal qualities that allow employees to create better content that connects with people.
“Without hustle, talent will only carry you so far.” -Gary Vaynerchuk
Similarly to having interpersonal skills, you’re interviewee could be the Albert Einstein of content, but if they don’t produce much output, they’ll be the first one out the door if there’s a cut.
What use is there for hiring exceptional talent if your team has nothing to show for it? Content marketing candidates need to show up and work hard.
If they demonstrate their work ethic to their team, they will be recognized.
Rather than being obsessed with performance, which is tempting for new hires unsure about where they stand, your new team member’s focus should be on growth. Being growth-oriented means that they are:
- Dedicated to continuous learning and development
- Open to constructive feedback
- Able to adapt to change well
- Willing to improve
- Able to see themselves long-term within the company and that their own career goals align with the company’s future.
As far as skills that weren’t emphasized as much, “creative” was surprisingly only brought up in about 15% of the job postings.
Most content marketers would argue that being creative is somewhat of a daily necessity.
When you’re trying to create the best content in your given vertical that will be compelling to your audience and out-perform your competitors, you need to approach your ideation with a creative mindset.
Similarly, time management was emphasized less often than other skills.
For those of us who currently work as content marketers, this comes as a surprise.
A content marketer is wearing many hats and often managing many projects all at once.
Time management is essential for the modern day content marketer and shouldn’t be underestimated, despite being included less than 15% of the time on these job postings.
The Industry is Growing
If your team is already comprised of talented, hardworking, growth oriented employees, congratulations!
You’ve hired exactly who you need to get your content strategy to the absolute best place possible.
If you’re team still needs to brush up on some of these skills, don’t be discouraged. There is no time than the present to sharpen your skill set.
The internet is a vast treasure trove of information relating to these skills. Between courses, webinars, ebooks, in-depth guides, and tutorials, it won’t take long to transform your struggling content marketing team into the best content creators money can hire.