May 2, 2014

Digging the New Breed

Recruiters are in a unique position to judge short-term spikes and long-term trends across the digital industry. We asked Martin King, Senior Consultant at creative and digital recruitment consultancy Become, about the skills most in demand this year

What changes have you seen in the digital recruitment industry over the last 12 months?

In terms of skill-set needs there’s been an increased demand for designers and developers with mobile and responsive experience. This is driven by brands beginning to realise how much impact mobiles and tablets are having on their business and how many of their customers use non-desktop devices as their preferred weapon of choice. This has undoubtedly driven the demand for responsive design and certainly helped increase the impact of WordPress. We’re also still seeing companies relying heavily on freelancers and a reluctance among candidates to take permanent roles.

What other skills are in demand this year?

User-interface design and true digital design skills will be in big demand this year. At last, brands and their agencies are realising that, like art directors and artworkers in print equivalents, UI designers and developers are (at least) two different people. This year could also mark the age of the true digital creative; there’s a new breed out there that combines strategic thinking, conceptual ability and copywriting. These multi-talented creative technologists are pushing their way into agencies, breaking down the traditional creative team and providing real digital campaign solutions and innovation.

Content marketing is a dominant issue right now. Is that having an impact on the sorts of roles companies are recruiting for?

Those creative technologists I’ve mentioned are really born out of the increase in content marketing. Despite much being written about the importance of content online, it’s only recently that content and concepts have started sitting side by side and started taking prevalence. I do believe that content – and those candidates who are able to understand its importance – truly deliver impact across all digital channels and will be most in demand. Brands and agencies will be restructuring their creative departments to fit in these digital catalysts, which will be interesting. This leads on to editorial skills, which are currently not given sufficient value. However, I believe the value of great editing will become more recognised as roles centred on content generation become more prevalent.


How do you see the mobile landscape developing?

Responsive design was the buzzword for 2013. Now it’s well and truly here. There has been a tendency to look at responsive design as a ‘dumbing down’ of your creative output. But as technology catches up with demand and new development techniques break boundaries, the ability to make beautiful, compelling digital work across any screen will be here. Don’t forget – responsive design is still very new and most of the world has a long way to go to catch up. The biggest mobile developments in 2014 will be technological: mobile payments, ticketing, info sharing. How that impacts on digital designers and developers remains to be seen.

What advice do you have for brands seeking to recruit the best digital talent?

If you want the best digital talent you have to pay well to get it. Look at market rates. (Why not ask your recruiter to advise you or complete a salary survey?) Be realistic about salaries. A lot of the best digital candidates out there are freelancing so you’ll have to dig deep to get them on board. A fixed term contract may be the solution. What is of great importance is identifying what skills you actually need and having a strong digital strategy in place. If you have that, candidates will know you mean business and will be keen to join you knowing they can push boundaries and create great work.

And what advice would you offer candidates?

Immerse yourself, find your niche and push it all the way. Both strategic and creative skills will be in demand – think 360 degrees and you’ve got it made. For developers, there’s no substitute for top level HTML5 and CSS skills, with jQuery thrown in, of course. Developing for mobile and tablets will increase. To candidates I’d say this: don’t be afraid of taking a permanent role; you can immerse yourself in a brand or agency and get a lot out of it.