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Bridging the digital marketing skills gap – why going global is the answer

By: Pieter Manden, Head of Trust and Compliance, WorkMotion

In the past two years, B2B and consumer buying practices have gone digital at breakneck speed, and in turn, digital marketing has seen explosive growth as well. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn reports that digital and social media marketing jobs are in high demand, with half of the top ten jobs posted on LinkedIn in the digital or media space.

Yet, digital marketing skills are going backwards, according to recent research by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), with marketers’ digital skills either stagnating or declining from 2020 and 2021 across all levels of seniority. Given the complexity of digital marketing, and the rapid development of new technologies and analytics, it’s understandable that marketers are not only struggling to keep pace, but are even losing ground.

However, the wider digital transformation we have experienced in terms of how work is getting done can ultimately provide the answer to filling the digital marketing skills gap.

Abundance of skilled talent – if you know where to look

The most recent Office of National Statistics Labour Force Overview reveals that for the period from April to June 2022, UK unemployment rates remain near historic lows. However, while the acute labour shortage in the UK persists, this doesn’t take into account the huge, untapped pool of global talent.

With the widespread adoption and proven success of remote working, physical location is no longer the essential requirement it once was. Each year, around 5 million STEM graduates finish college in India, China and Brazil, and to put that into perspective, that’s 16 times the number in the UK and Germany, which have 300,000 STEM graduates combined. By recruiting from a wider global pool of talent, you enormously increase your chances of finding the digital marketing talent you need.

In fact, WorkMotion’s Local Talent Index, which ranks remote talent in 100 cities worldwide – based on where the best talent in different industries can be found and how easy it is to hire them – reveals that four out of the ten top cities for digital marketing managers aren’t even in Europe, including Buenos Aires, Bangalore, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur. The top three cities include: 1. Buenos Aires, 2. Lisbon, and 3. Budapest, with London coming in at fourth. This trend is even more pronounced when it comes to the overall ranking of senior digital marketing talent, with eight of the ten top cities for remote talent located outside of Europe.

Consequently, opening up your search and hiring global talent, working remotely, is a vital strategy for closing your digital marketing skills gap.

Benefits of global remote talent

Despite the prevalence of remote work, some businesses remain reluctant to hire remote digital marketing talent because they worry that remote workers won’t be as productive as onsite ones. But recent studies have demonstrated that working from home is as productive, or even more productive, than working on-site, per Owl Labs. As well, 85% of global businesses agree that location flexibility boosts productivity.

Some organisations are also hesitant to hire global talent due to concerns about people working from different time zones. However, the modern workplace is already moving towards asynchronous (or ‘async’) work, which refers to employees working and communicating on their own time schedules, without the expectation that employees are online and immediately responsive during the same set hours. The idea is that team members will still answer colleagues within a reasonable timeframe, like 24 hours, but they will do so when it’s convenient for them and allows them to complete their work most efficiently.

And many enterprises have locations across the globe. Having people working on opposite sides of the globe means that when one person is finishing off their daily tasks, another colleague has just woken up. This type of async collaboration allows for better coverage and responsiveness – something that’s ultimately beneficial for a company operating in different time zones around the world.

Hiring and managing global remote talent made simple

The other benefit of hiring global remote talent is that it obviates the need for work visas and uprooting candidates and their families. Nevertheless, many companies worry that hiring internationally will require an army of lawyers, accountants, and HR consultants to navigate every hire in every different country abroad. Certainly, tax, regulatory and labour compliance are key considerations, from adjustments to employment contracts to meet local labour laws, to providing the correct statutory and non-statutory employee benefits and entitlements.

However, as hiring needs have changed, technology has evolved to meet those new requirements. Whether it’s international onboarding, contract generation, or local salary calculation, there are technology tools that can enable companies to hire compliantly in hundreds of different countries. These platforms provide all the information needed, such as local probation periods, paid time off and notice period requirements, and more – all without the time and expense of tax and labour lawyers.

Additionally, ‘workations’ (or temporary work from abroad) are a much sought-after benefit that can attract and retain digital marketing talent – with 52 percent of UK office staff interested in taking one – but navigating corporate tax liability issues and work permits on a case-by-case basis can be time consuming and costly. HR tech tools similar to those used to hire and onboard global remote talent can also make ‘workations’ much easier to grant and administer compliantly.

Conclusion

Given that the rise in demand for digital marketing talent shows no signs of abating, it’s essential for businesses to take new approaches to hiring the talent they need. Remote work has made it possible to access a whole new world of talent, and HR technology enables companies to hire and manage them from anywhere in the world at the click of a button – making hiring talent without borders easy and effective.

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