People often ask me as a leading digital marketing manager recruiter: What type of ecommerce and digital marketing talent are employers looking for the most these days? The short answer is that they’re looking for everything, from SEO Managers and email specialists, to thought leaders who can help transform more traditional companies into digital businesses. But if you measure it by the type employer inquiries I’m getting here at Bernhart Associates, one job category clearly leads the pack: Digital Marketing Manager. Roughly categorized as those with between 5 and 12 years of digital marketing experience, I’m getting five times the number of requests for the Digital Marketing Manager than any other level. It’s no wonder: Indeed.com currently lists more than 16,000 posted jobs with “digital marketing” contained somewhere in the job description. These candidates can pull out a map, throw a dart, and get a job there. Many who launch active job searches end up with multiple offers.
I affectionately call this group the “tweeners.” The Digital Marketing Manager has grown beyond individual contributor, task-oriented, highly campaign-specific jobs, but are below the senior-most leaders who have larger P and L responsibility, manage big digital commerce teams and participate in higher level conversations that drive the overall business. Of course, those lines are often blurred, particularly in smaller companies where a Manager can have as much impact on the business as a Director or a Veep at a bigger organization. Many Managers I know also have side-hustles where they’re running their own at-home web businesses, some of them pretty sizeable (one Digital Marketing Manager I know is running an ecommerce business from his home that he started some ten years ago that is actually larger than his employer!) But I generally describe Managers and Sr. Managers as my “mid-level” talent pool, those who’ve acquired enough experience to the point where strategy, management and leadership, budgeting and forecasting become a much bigger part of the job. Among those who come from agencies or technology providers, many are now selecting and managing those vendor partners as a Manager on the client side. One of the great satisfactions I have as a recruiter in this space is placing these candidates and watching them grow and eventually take on bigger Director and VP-level jobs. One Digital Marketing Manager who I placed about 8 years ago is now leading a global team and running a P and L in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Digital Marketing Manager faces a very bright future. Although the US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t break it down by channel, the BLS does project that the number of marketing jobs in the US will grow another 7% by the year 2024. While some of those jobs will focus on more traditional advertising, it doesn’t take a BLS report to know that many others, if not the majority, will have a very strong online component. I often hear employers describe their need for a Digital Marketing Manager who is “in the trenches” or someone who can “roll up their sleeves and do the work.” However you want to describe it, the DMM is still very much involved in the day-to-day blocking and tackling that goes on with executing digital strategy. In short, their job is to use the online channel to promote the brand and drive website traffic. Being in the trenches is good- in fact, it’s a “must have” for roles at this level. But many of the job descriptions that cross my desk have kitchen-sink-like expectations. HR reps who are not particularly familiar with these roles sometimes have a tendency to think of the job of the Digital Marketing Manager as more IT-ish, associating these positions mostly with web development rather than marketing, and so they load up the JD with specific software tools and platforms. To be sure, any top ten list of essential skills that are required in digital marketing will certainly include technical knowledge, and we all know how beneficial it can be for anyone in digital marketing to develop solid relationships with the IT department. But as I like to describe it in my presentations, digital marketers are marketers who by definition are comfortable with technology, not the other way around.
My best advice for a Digital Marketing Manager: Keep learning as much as you can and take on all the responsibility you can because, perhaps more than any other level in digital marketing and ecommerce, you are on a springboard that could truly catapult your career.
Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent and veteran digital marketing and ecommerce recruiters, and has been called the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 29 years.