Two senior marketers tell us what they're looking for from superstar juniors

Dotmailer's Skip Fidura and Vend's Nick Houldsworth tell Jess Pike about the talent they’re on the hunt for and what it takes to keep the most promising recruits in the job

Which skills are you looking for from marketers today?

Skip Fidura, client services director, Dotmailer: The phrase ‘content is king’ has been floating around for years, but there’s a real skills gap when it comes to good copywriting or even just writing.
Nick, CMO, Vend: We don’t necessarily look for people with tech skills, but I do make sure each member of my team learns HTML on the job – at least to a basic level. I find it’s hugely important; it means the whole team isn’t dependent on one or two engineers to code their emails, which can be pretty liberating.
Skip: Database skills are quite hard to find at the moment. I’m not necessarily looking for new grads with hardcore SQL skills but marketing has become so data-driven that having an understanding of the basic mechanics of relational databases, and how data should be collected and kept clean over time, is really important.

What tips do you have for marketers looking to develop in-house talent? What do you do at Dotmailer, Skip?

One of the things that makes younger employees stand out is the innate value they put on development and learning, so it’s important that companies aren’t just paying lip service to internal training and staff development. You’re no longer competing with other firms in your space to retain your talent; you’re competing against a wide range of alternative possible career choices.

What about you, Nick? What does Vend do to attract new talent?

I think it’s really important to have a recruitment brand as well as a corporate, customer acquisition brand. Your brand is a window into your culture and you can’t fake a great culture; it’s about letting your potential employees get a sense of who you are as a business and as people, and why they’d want to work with you… things like the fact that you're both small enough to be agile and big enough to have a nice chunk of resource to play with.

What do you think, Skip?

I agree that one of the areas where companies are increasingly having to focus on is their brand from a recruitment perspective. Wages in the UK have remained relatively flat over the past five years so companies have to build on their intangible strengths. Your employees are key to this because they provide real-world examples supporting your recruiting brand efforts. The first step in turning anybody (employee or customer) into an advocate is to recognise that everything is not going to go perfectly all of the time. It's not when things go wrong that you have the problem; it’s how you handle and communicate the issue which will make or break your recruiting brand.