What Skills Do You Need For a Digital Marketing Job

So what skills do you need to move into a career in Digital Marketing?

The other week I met up with Andy Drinkwater who is an experienced SEO and a chap called Bob, who is a regular at our Chester SEO meetup. What impresses me about Bob is that he attends a lot of Digital Marketing Conferences, and in recent months I’ve bumped into him at BrightonSEO, Search Leeds and a few other events. Now the story behind Bob is that he was based in Italy and has a passion for web development and was able to do a lot of web development back in the day using Joomla and WordPress. I would imagine that you get fed up doing that type of work for little or no money over in Italy where Roberto tells us these roles are not well paid.

Roberto, around 5 years ago, made the choice to relocate to the UK. He didn’t speak much English so settled into an English speaking school for a few months to learn the language, he was trying to get into Digital Marketing roles but the language barrier was a bit of a problem.

Roberto was approached by his current employer where he has been for the last 4 or 5 years where he has honed his English speaking skills, but in this role he is working in a sign shop in Liverpool where he runs the shop, designs the signs/stickers and whatever else he does within that role but also does some SEO as and when time allows. Obviously, he is in a role that is not ideal for his skills and he isn’t in a role where he will grow and develop.

He pays his own travel, accommodation and ticket prices to attend SEO events in his own spare time to try and develop enough knowledge to try and switch into a role where he can go on and improve his skills, salary and everything else.

I try to help Roberto as I like his passion and enthusiasm as that’s what I look for when looking for a new member for my team, everything else you can train someone on.

In June 2018 I asked Roberto to come up to my office so that I could give him some SEO training and access to my team to pick their brains FREE of charge as I like to help others grow. Again this was at his own expense, he paid for his own travel and accommodation without giving it a second thought. The training went well and what I took from Roberto after having some proper time with him is that he was very knowledgeable, with a good broad set of skills.

Reasons why he isn’t being hired?

Roberto has been for a number of interviews in recent months and he was going in for beginner SEO jobs on a low salary but was met with obstacles from the employers wanting:

  • Degree Level Education
  • Journalism standard written skills
  • CSS/PHP and other web dev skills
  • Social Media Skills
  • Copywriting Skills

These skills are way over and above what you should expect from an SEO exec in my opinion and people are using poor reasons not to employ Roberto based on his English speaking skills, because his English speaking skills are not 100% doesn’t mean he doesn’t possess all of the other skills required to do the job.

Recruitments Spin on what is required for a Digital Role

I have also spoken with Emma Lambert from Clockwork Talent who are the UK’s leading Digital Recruitment agency on what her thoughts were on agencies job specs looking for SEO execs

“Speaking as specialist recruiters in digital marketing, we know it varies from employer to employer as to what the hiring requirements are for an SEO Exec role. Key criteria can depend on whether it’s in-house or agency, as well as how mature the digital marketing team is. Predominantly here in the UK, the ability to speak & write English fluently is essential for most businesses unless the key criteria of the hire is localisation i.e. for the Middle Eastern region – Arabic or South European region – Spanish, French, or Italian. This is when languages become an advantage.

The next tier of criteria is based on whether the job is a Tech SEO path or the Content SEO path. Tech SEO is where the knowledge of using paid tools, evidence of achieving results, undertaking audits and implementing recommendations are important. Where in Content SEO jobs, our clients generally look for a wider breadth of SEO skills, from tech SEO through to crafting optimised copy, creating content and devising broader integrated strategies.

Requiring a degree is becoming less essential as businesses understand the best digital marketers are usually self-taught but come with passion and the desire to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. These people enjoy trying different tactics themselves, not just academic accreditations. They may run their own sites or write blogs have side hustles – these all contribute to what makes a great candidate in digital marketing.

A lot of the desired criteria can depend on the maturity of the digital marketing team. i.e. the company will never risk a hire in the early stages but in a bigger team, they can afford training time etc.”

My View on What is required from a Digital Candidate

So what I look for from someone looking for an SEO exec role would be different to many people, the skills I’m looking for are:

  • Reliability
  • Time Keeping
  • Enthusiasm for Digital
  • Basic knowledge of Digital
  • Good written skills
  • Can work using own initiative

All other skills can be trained, as can the use of tools we use in the digital marketing industry, so these are the core skills I would be looking for when looking to hire a new exec in my office.

I had a chat with Andy Drinkwater and Roberto over a few beers which you can see in the video below on our views on what people are looking for.


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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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