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Your Best Marketing Job Hire May Not Be a Marketing Major

Posted by Brad Voeller on October 11, 2016

business_woman-932533-edited.jpgThis article was edited on January 11th, 2019

Think you need a freshly minted marketing major to fill that entry level marketing position? Think again. The marketing world today is very different than it was 50, 20 or even five years ago. So are the skills needed to succeed in this complex and evolving field. It’s time to stop assessing candidates by their degrees and to start assessing them by whether they've got what it takes to make a meaningful contribution in the challenging 21st century marketing environment.

The Marketing Skills Gap

A Forbes piece recently defined the skills gap as a “gap between what employers want or need their employees to be able to do, and what those employees can actually do when they walk into work.” And while much has been made of the skills gap over the past decade, the buzz begs one overarching question: is the skills gap real? That depends on how you look at it.

While the skills gap is very real to hiring managers who rely on degree requirements to fill jobs, it’s also self-imposed. After all, if you’re hiring for a position and you’re willing to consider only those applicants with marketing degrees, you’re assuming that these candidates have the necessary skills, training and experience -- a pretty big leap given that possession of a marketing degree tells you nothing more than that a candidate has a marketing degree. Not only that, but at the same time you’re arbitrarily eliminating a much larger pool of candidates who may have the right skills.

However, if you extend your search to include candidates without marketing degrees but with the sought-after skill set along with aptitude and a learning mindset,  you’re not only filling a critical vacancy but also turning an obstacle into a real-world solution. In other words, it’s not about what a candidate does or does not have on paper, but about how these strengths or weaknesses impact performance in the workplace.

We did some research to uncover the most desirable marketing skills and the skills students learn at degree programs. These are the 7 most desirable skills for marketers according to the American Marketing Association:

  • Email Marketing
  • Analytics
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Content Management
  • PPC
  • Mobile 

In our research on the 10 universities in San Antonio and Austin, only 3 of the schools teach the full list of digital marketing skills listed above. This proves the skills gap is between what students learn from a marketing degree and what skills are needed to land a job. Time to look beyond marketing majors and more toward students with a wide range of transferable skills, internship experience and a strong portfolio of work.

Diverse People = Diverse Skills

We’re not saying that marketing degrees don’t matter. On the contrary, marketing degrees equip graduates with plenty of knowledge aimed at helping them succeed in marketing careers. From our research mentioned above, we can see how the skills gap effects marketing curriculum and that marketing majors aren't necessarily learning today's digital skills through their degree coursework. 

Marketing degrees, and coursework, aren’t the sole route to acquiring the skills needed to deliver as a marketing professional. Skills learned through internships and classes by all majors such as writing, communication, creativity, teamwork, sales, social media, technology, and business savvy are all invaluable traits for today’s marketers. They're multidisciplinary in nature -- they can be developed, honed and applied in many different settings.

Your takeaway as a hiring manager? Whether candidates have marketing degrees ultimately has no bearing on whether they’re more qualified than candidates with majors in everything from English to business.

People from diverse academic backgrounds bring a diverse range of offerings to the table. Think of it this way: Would you rather have a team made up of people with completely overlapping skills or with a breadth and depth of talents for a uniquely symbiotic result? We’ll take the latter every time.handshake-1513228_1920.jpg

Experience Matters

As we all know, marketers don’t work in a vacuum. Our professional lives are demanding, and require not just knowledge, but also the know-how to transform that knowledge into measurable outcomes within the dynamic marketing environment. In this sense, too, proven ability transcends the degree. Why? Because a marketing degree is meaningless if it can’t be applied. There’s no substitute for a tangible portfolio of work when it comes to determining whether a candidate is up to the job.

While some of the best and brightest students do opt for marketing degrees, countless others are called to other majors en route to discovering their passions for marketing. Willingness to think outside the box ensures that hiring managers don't just gain access to the ordinary candidates during job searches, but also to the extraordinary ones.

Looking for this kind of diverse talent? DCI can help you find those candidates. We have apprentices from all majors and educational backgrounds who bring different skill sets and a growth mindset. Learn more about how DCI apprentices can make an impact at your organization today.


Topics: For Small or Medium Enterprises