Technical marketing, PR and comms – finding the right person

I’ll start this post by saying that so far it’s been a good year with regards to B2B marketing, PR and comms recruitment. We’ve had a record number of technology and software companies contacting us with brand new and exciting requirements which is fantastic, this is something we still consider our ‘bread and butter’ across our regions.  We regularly get asked questions with regards to our previous experience of working with technically-minded marketing professionals. These questions tend to revolve around what specialisms we can provide, what industry sectors we can source people from and ultimately who is currently available in the marketplace. The answer to the last question can fluctuate massively, especially when talking about B2B and hopefully I help to explain why from what we’re experiencing!

I’ve been working within marketing recruitment for a while now, not initially purely within B2B either. I started working on a whole range of roles across the Central and Eastern regions and there has always been a common theme running which probably won’t come to a massive surprise to many people – that, typically, candidates with the relevant skills and the personality fit will generally get the roles. This may sound like a very simple equation to get the result needed when recruiting or if you’re a candidate looking for that next career move, but it’s a bit deeper than that.

The current market

Currently there’s a bit of a shift happening in the market place and especially within B2B marketing. This will affect both organisations looking to recruit and candidates working in those sectors; we’re heading back into a candidate driven market which means two very important things.

Number one is that candidates with both the skills and the personality will most likely have interviews at other organisations. Multiple interviews for a ‘hot candidate’ nowadays is common, and that means organisations have to move quickly in order to secure talent into the business before a potential ‘competitor’ or local recruiting tech rival. Recruitment processes are a bit of a hot topic –   like customer service, it shows off an organisation’s thoroughness, enthusiasm and efficiency. Honestly speaking, the recruitment process tends to be the first real taste candidates will have of the organisation which is key to the process but also their external brand and how it is perceived. Some of our clients are leading the way with this in mind with swift and decisive processes but most importantly, very candidate-centric experiences. I’ve also heard the other side of the story,  though. Candidates who don’t feel valued during recruitment processes inevitably won’t sway their decisions towards those clients; this is especially the case within B2B and technology/software marketing roles. Typically within B2B recruitment we’re not trying to sell a sexy brand or a universally known and loved household name so there needs to be a draw – selling ground breaking technology or new software solutions which make a real difference to a lot of people across the globe!

Marketing professionals are naturally good communicators, they share ideas within the network and can quickly spread the word if they don’t have a great experience, everyone can blame social media for that!

Being based in Cambridge we’re in constant contact with industry leading organisations with fantastic and ground breaking technologies (Bagehot “Getting to Cambridge – The Economist, is an interesting read!) Nobody is challenging the effectiveness of the technologies but how these products are being marketed appears to be changing rapidly. The emphasis for some companies is still very much product-led and this concept might not consider the potential of a weaker competitor with a lesser product, who are investing more in marketing. Marketing is a tool that if used correctly can transform a product which does a job into a product which people can talk about and spread the word. New channels of communications ensure greater awareness and that’s when companies become product and also thought leaders, a hot topic as I’m sure some of you are aware.

This leads me onto the second point and this is really specific to B2B marketing. The second point to consider with regards to the shift in the market is whether the skills or requirements bar is being set too high when recruiting marketing people into technology or technical environments.

Within our B2B marketing recruitment team we take on average, ten to fifteen marketing role briefs from clients every week and you’ll be surprised at how many hiring managers are asking for candidates who can transfer technical subject matter into marketable pieces to ‘the common customer’ or that person who doesn’t know a huge amount about the product. This is typical and it certainly doesn’t faze us when recruiting, however there is the odd occasion when the requirements seem too high in order to gain an interview for the candidates. We’ve been asked on a few occasions to look for candidates who have a marketing degree and an engineering degree also, which if you think about it,  is like asking for two completely different things, creativity and ideas coupled with logic and a black and white approach. We’ve found that the companies with soaring profits or share prices are the companies who are looking outside of their typical technology industry marketing box for their executive and even on occasion manager-level positions.

I am being realistic, however, and know that someone who has worked within FMCG or retail marketing is going to possess completely different experience in terms of the route to market. What I’m trying to convey is that now that the market is making a stronger shift towards the direction of the candidate, it will probably mean that our B2B marketing, PR and comms recruitment techniques may also have to make a shift to get more with the times!




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