Skills-based hiring for modern marketing teams

Modern CMOs must prioritize skills over degrees, building teams skilled in data, technology and creativity for today's dynamic digital landscape.

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Have you ever wondered if traditional hiring practices are holding your marketing team back? I work with CMOs, helping them build best-in-class marketing teams, among other things. In many cases, they’re firmly rooted in what many, including myself, believe is an outdated requirement of seeking candidates with degrees.

The evolving talent marketplace

While degrees used to signal a person’s abilities, skills and potential, the landscape has changed dramatically. With more accessible education options that don’t require expensive four-year degrees, there’s an abundance of talent without the typical pedigree. 

At the same time, degrees don’t guarantee that someone will have the precise skills a role demands. If we’ve learned anything over the last decade, it’s that the martech landscape evolves rapidly, requiring specialized expertise.

In 2022, an analysis of LinkedIn data revealed that the proportion of job postings on the platform not mandating a four-year degree increased from 15% to 20%, marking a 33% year-over-year surge. Employers recognize the need to “screen in” rather than “screen out” candidates. Think about the potential gains for your organization when you prioritize skills over degrees in your hiring process.

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Skills predict performance

I coach my CMO clients to take a skills-first approach to hiring. The requirements should focus on the hard and soft skills needed for the role and the company’s unique challenges. While a degree may check a historical standard box, skills predict job performance.

I guide them through updating job descriptions to better convey must-have capabilities that degree-centric language can obscure. We also overhaul their interview practices to deeply assess candidates’ expertise.

Modernizing hiring approaches grants access to critical skills. As marketing technology and consumer behavior continuously evolve, skills have a diminishing half-life. Evaluating expertise against emerging needs is vital. Strategic CMOs develop skills rubrics spanning martech fluency, data analysis, creative direction and more. Assessing candidates accordingly calibrates hiring to enhance performance.

By matching talent to in-demand marketing skills, CMOs can build future-proof teams adept at capitalizing on the latest technologies, resonating with diverse customer bases through authentic messaging, leveraging analytics for optimization and designing sticky user experiences that drive loyalty.

In particular, skills-based hiring enables marketing teams to achieve four key imperatives that empower strategic goals.

1. Aligning with evolving platforms

Frequent martech advances pressure marketers to tune their expertise constantly. Skills-based hiring matches talent to leading web, mobile and social platforms as they emerge.

It builds adaptive teams ready to capitalize on incremental and disruptive technology shifts. Roster-wide tech fluency unlocks first-mover opportunities while protecting against obsolescence.

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2. Unlocking innovation and growth

Diverse skill sets incubate creativity. Composed of multifaceted individuals, skills-based teams better resonate with an equally diverse customer base.

They brainstorm innovative campaigns from varied perspectives. Customers respond better to authentic messaging reflecting natural diversity. Conversion rates and revenue subsequently grow.

3. Informing decisions with data

In an exponentially expanding data universe, analytics skills enable sound marketing decisions. Skills-based hiring produces teams adept at extracting and applying insights.

They deliver advanced audience segmentation, campaign optimization and ROI forecasting. Rapid-response data capabilities confer a competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace.

4. Boosting lifetime value

Customer-centric CMOs hire for journey mapping and user testing skills. Such talents design sticky user experiences that retain customers longer.

They apply specialized expertise in building customer empathy and relevance. The result is enhanced loyalty, driving measurable lifts in lifetime value.

Pivot to skills-based hiring

In this world of constant change, skills-based hiring is a strategic necessity for marketing teams to adapt and excel. This approach aligns with today’s dynamic digital landscape, going beyond filling roles. Skills-based hiring empowers teams to meet shifting challenges and own marketing’s fluid future.

By prioritizing specialized skills over degrees, CMOs gain access to more versatile, dynamic talent pools. This shift fosters environments primed for innovation where creativity thrives, fresh data informs decisions and cutting-edge technology activates.

The outcome? Tactical teams that respond to evolving consumer behaviors and market conditions drive unmatched business growth. Boom!

As digital shifts accelerate, marketing strategies depend directly on the execution skills of these teams. Credentials-first hiring has clear costs — missed opportunities, stagnant thinking and disjointed customer experiences. Forward-looking CMOs recognize skills-based hiring as crucial.

Specialized expertise empowers everything from tech integration to analytics, personalized content and advocacy. Ultimately, team agility, customer resonance and business growth depend on this pragmatic pivot.

Dig deeper: A new way to find the tech talent you need


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Gene De Libero
Gene has been a Martech Healer for over three decades, inventing the future while helping organizations and leaders 'Ride the Crest of Change.' A serial entrepreneur since his first newspaper delivery start-up, Gene developed early innovations in social media networks, digital-out-of-home narrowcasting, and SMS mobile marketing. As the principal at Digital Mindshare LLC, a New York-based strategy and marketing technology consultancy, Gene helps clients optimize their martech investments, ensuring maximum returns and strategic alignment.

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