You hear it? That’s content marketing sounding off. It’s exploding. ‘Tis a great time to be doing it, a great time for writing a column about it, and if you’re on the outside hoping to get in, these are boom times for landing a job in content marketing too.
Enter “content marketing” in Google Trends and you’ll find the Y-axis steeper than any slope you might want to ride your bike up.
At Kapost, makers of “the content marketing software platform,” content manager Jean Spencer embarked on a mission to unravel what’s happening on the hiring front in this blazing hot niche.
Jean and company dug in, surveying over 500 marketers to identify the roles, responsibilities, and qualities of content marketers. They came up with an eBook, Recruit the Dream Team: The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook.
Jean reported their research revealed “B2B companies plan to hire an additional 2 to 5 content marketing employees by 2015.”
A study just released by Content Marketing Association and TNS claims 51% of marketers planned to increase their spending on content marketing in 2014. Most of the money will go into bringing aboard new talent.
What are marketers looking for?
In addition to tabulating a ton of data for their handbook, Kapost hit up three bona fide content marketing pros for words of wisdom regarding whom to hire.
“Instead of being wooed by the size of a candidate’s social footprint, look for candidates who can quantify their impact on the business,” said Joe Chernov, VP of content at HubSpot.
“Appoint a strategist,” advised Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs. Ann described this person, your first hire, as someone who (1) understands big picture strategy, (2) has authority to make decisions for implementation, and (3) understands the key role audience plays in content creation.
Jason Miller, the global content marketing lead at LinkedIn, stressed writing skills. “You have to be able to write well,” he said. “If your writing sucks, your content is going to suck.”
Jason offered 7 characteristics he values in a content marketer. He says the candidate:
- Writes everyday
- Has high standards
- Has a strong online identity
- Is a “hybrid” marketer capable of integrating old and new marketing tactics
- Has a good handle on social media
- Can showcase a “sizzle reel” of quality content
- Keeps up on content trends, tactics, and news
Writing skills rank highest.
According to the data Kapost collected, more than 9 in 10 companies report writing and editing skills are the most important quality a content marketer can have.
Here’s a look at the top five skills and how they stack up in the minds of the marketers who participated in the study.
Data from the report indicates 41.5% of the time a writer is the first role marketing teams hire for. Head of marketing and editor placed second and third.
I spoke with author Jean Spencer to get some of her insights.
“Writers tend to be high in demand first because writing is the backbone to SEO,” she said. “Whether it’s based on keywords or semantics, Google reads our writing to understand our entities.”
“Second, writing is the vehicle for brand storytelling and the medium by which buyers and consumers connect. And finally, professional writers ‘get’ deadlines.”
“Many of us have worked in the newspaper biz,” she said, “where the pace was as fast as today’s Internet.”
A look at 7 critical content marketing skills.
The best resource I found on the subject of landing a job in content marketing is an eBook created by Content Marketing Institute and Kelly Services, “Getting the Content Marketing Job You Want.” It too places writing skills atop the list.
1. Strong writing skills—The ability to communicate an idea in a coherent way is a major differentiator.
2. A tactful personal brand—Here again, the advice of CMI and Kelly Services concurs with Jason Miller. The eBook says, “Job candidates who understand how to manage a public persona make strong applicants.” Your presence on, and handling of, social media is all-important.
If you lack experience, but know your future lies in content marketing, you’ll want to focus on demonstrating your branding chops via your blog and social media presence. Get serious about your LinkedIn profile and get active in LinkedIn groups.
WHERE DO COMPANIES LOOK FOR NEW HIRES
IN CONTENT MARKETING?
Data based on 174 respondents from the 2014 Kapost Content Hiring Survey
3. Interviewing experience—To be clear, this skill does not speak to your ability to interview for a job (though it will obviously factor into landing a job). The point here is having skills for conducting interviews is highly valued.
4. Business background—You need to understand how businesses work, especially how different departments work together toward a common cause.
5. A confident voice—Were it up to me, I’d rank this one even higher. The eBook points out your ability to confidently answer difficult questions is the mark of a strong content marketer. I love it.
6. Storytelling ability—It’s a subset of “strong writing skills,” but a vital one. To excel in content marketing, you must master the elements of storytelling.
7. Organizational skills—While these skills apply to many job functions, in content marketing, you need to organize ideas, content creation processes, distribution, testing, analysis and more.
Get engaged with the companies you want to work for.
They recommend after shortlisting potential employers you’d like to work for, you should engage with them via social media to understand their priorities and leadership style. The advice includes connecting with their leaders via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. You should consider sharing their content, interacting, introducing yourself and asking for introductions to those that do their hiring.
“Your online footprint is a mark of your understanding of the digital marketing landscape. Making yourself known can never hurt.” ~ Jean Spencer, Kapost.
In addition, you’ll want to read their blogs to learn as much as you can. When you do these things thoughtfully, you’re bound to catch their notice, understand more about the company, and get a sense for how people respond to them. You’ll be more equipped to decide if you’re a fit, and if so, become far more interview-ready.
You need to do some interviewing too.
According to Kirsten and Sherbin, the interview goes both ways. In other words, finding the ideal job calls for you qualifying your potential employer. Their eBook suggests you ask questions to help you understand:
- Will the company “fit” your personality?
- Will it support the way you work best?
- Does it reflect your values and priorities?
They add factors to consider regarding the company’s “content culture,” including:
- Does the company have a content marketing mission statement?
- Are company leaders on board with content marketing?
- Who creates content?
- How long has content been core to the organization’s marketing strategy?
Content marketing is well suited for remote positions and freelance work, so looking for short-term or project work might be a perfect way to gain experience. If you’re not yet ready for a full-time position or lack the experience to secure your dream job in content marketing, consider opportunities to “get your foot in door” to expand your skills.
You might find the work challenging, get involved in innovative projects and experience different ways of working with various companies.
We’ll close with a final thought from Jean Spencer…
“Regardless of your process, get your foot in the door. For writers, the door has never been more open, and the more real-life experience you get, the more hirable you become.”
“It’s funny. Rewind a few years ago and writers were on the streets as newspapers across the country shut their doors. But humanity doesn’t cease its hunger for information, so now we are seeing writers are very much back in demand—maybe more than ever. Content marketing plays a big role in that. These are golden years for writers.”
The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook, Kapost
What Does a Content Career in Marketing Looks Like?, HubSpot
How to Land the Content Marketing Job of Your Dreams, CMI
What Managers Look for in Content Marketing Hires, MarketingProfs
BEAR HUG & HIGH FIVE TO…
Jean Spencer, who obviously was first in the awesome sauce line for research and writing skills and is also a wholelottafun to know and talk to.
This article wouldn’t have been possible without you my friend.