Posted July 18, 2016 | Career Advice, Digital Media | No Comments »

Working in Digital Marketing: Do formal qualifications matter?

A recent article titled “Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t an ‘expert’ in marketing be trained in marketing?” argues that if somebody is being held up as an expert in the discipline of marketing you would certainly expect them to have a formal qualification in the topic. This article got me thinking and I would be urged to disagree. A qualification doesn’t always mean you’re qualified. Or rather a lack of qualification doesn’t mean you’re unqualified.

If we’re talking about digital marketing space – I agree having a formal qualification at college or university level isn’t going to hurt, and is a great foundation to build on, giving you the right knowledge and theory but it doesn’t fully equip you to do the job. I can speak from my own experience my qualification has vastly helped me in my position today, however the person who held my post prior to me didn’t have a marketing qualification and did the job just as well.

Looking at the candidates Enigma People Solutions work with, and have successfully placed, we can say that it really depends on personality versus qualification when it comes to securing a job within a digital marketing agency.

Digital marketing agencies can favour candidates who have studied the subject at college or university level. However if you’re somebody who hasn’t studied the subject but has come to learn through relevant work experience, self learning courses and/or has freelanced successfully then you’re just as qualified to do the job and go on to be a thought leader – something which the article argues cannot be done. If you’re not “formally qualified” but your self taught skills and technical knowledge are up to industry standard, there is no reason you cant go on to be an industry expert.

But that isn’t all.

Digital agencies thrive on creativity, innovation and collaboration. If you can’t display your ability to work in this way then a qualification doesn’t matter either way.  It come downs to your personality, willingness to learn, share knowledge and collaborate. When it comes to working in digital marketing and working within an agency it’s the right combination of personality + cultural fit + relevant skills which wins every time. If you’re the right person for the job with the right skills, the way in which you came to learn doesn’t matter.

If we take software development into account then the same is true. A 2015 Stack Overflow survey found that 48% of developers never received a qualification. Similarly, Quartz reports that:

“Self-taught developers dominate technology: 69% of the developers who responded to the survey are at least partly self-taught, and fewer than half hold a formal degree in computer science. In a trend spreading to other fields, many are choosing ways to learn that offer everything but a degree: online courses, bootcamps, on-the job training, and collaborating with peers.”

Do employers question where they got their qualifications? No. Developers are so high in demand that employers are fighting over each other to hire them as long as they are happy with their coding skills, experience and team fit.

Digital marketing is not far off.

In Tech Crunch’s article “Software Is Eating The Job Market” its reported that at high-growth tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook, the highest volume job opening after software developer/engineer is marketing manager – with social media manager not far behind.

Technology is evolving at a rapid speed. Jobs are being created which weren’t around 15 to 20 years ago, so the qualifications relating to many roles today simply weren’t around or there was little opportunity or need to study exactly what’s required in the role. Many of the skills learned and required on the job aren’t always taught before you’re in the role – often you need to attend hands-on workshops or learn on the job. As technology continues to extend its reach and reshape the workforce, it also reshapes the expectations of how the workforce learns and progress through their careers.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Do you agree that a formal qualification isn’t always required to succeed in today’s marketing landscape?

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Working in Digital Marketing: Do formal qualifications matter? | Enigma People Solutions

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