I’ll leave it up to the hard-core research types to prove me wrong, but in my unscientific opinion there’s a human resources crisis brewing in the Internet marketing space.
Based on recent discussions I’ve had with business owners, HR professionals, and recruiters, as well as my ‘fly-on-the-wall’ perspective as owner of an industry job posting board, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find talented mid-to-senior level Internet marketing professionals. And the situation is only going to get worse…
Increased Demand: As more and more companies, including ‘late-adopter’ mainstream companies, embrace Internet marketing, the demand for experienced Internet marketing candidates has ballooned. The recruiters I have spoken with tell me they have never seen such a surge in demand; this hiring boom is even bigger than during the Dotcom period. This time, however, everyone is having a hard time finding enough qualified candidates.
Increased Expectations: Companies are having a harder time filling the openings because the list of qualifications they claim to require in suitable candidates may not be in sync with the reality of the available workforce. While it’s great to set the bar high, very few candidates are likely to possess the long ‘shopping list’ of skills some employers are now demanding. Whether the employers actually need (versus just want) these skills is open for debate.
Reduced Talent Pool: While the colleges are still churning out junior Website designers by the truckload (God bless them all), the pool of available mid-to-senior level Internet marketing professionals hasn’t kept up to the demand because there still isn’t really an entrenched ‘e-marketing school‘ system and many of these self-taught folks have opted for self-employment as consultants or owners of their own small businesses. This doesn’t mean the consultants can’t be lured back into full-time employment, but as one self-employed colleague of mine put it, “few companies can afford to hire me; I make too much money on my own.”
Case in point: In the last few months, I’ve come across a half-dozen Canadian companies looking to hire an in-house Search Engine Marketing specialist. On the one hand, it’s very exciting to see a position like this being created at a company. It certainly makes sense from a business perspective, and kudos to the companies for embracing the medium. On the other hand, how many senior-level Search Engine Marketing specialists can there really be in Canada to begin with? Most of the ones I know are freelance guns-for-hire anyway, and the last thing they want to do is work full-time for someone else.
I hope I am wrong and that the demand for talent will not outstrip supply. But from where I’m sitting, 2006 is shaping up to be the first year in the history of the Internet where mid-to-senior level Internet marketing positions will go unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates. Then again, I suppose there’s always the option of outsourcing this work to India, but that’s a subject for another time.