Thinking about your hiring needs for 2016?  If you’re thinking about hiring a Digital Marketing Manager- roughly 7-10 years experience- you should start thinking about it now. CareerCast has released its list of jobs that it predicts employers will have the most difficulty filling next year, and it comes as no surprise that Marketing Manager is in the top 10, and that’s for all categories of marketing, not just digital.  Add strong digital skills and abilities to the need, and the message is clear: If you thought it was challenging to hire these individuals in 2015, wait until next year.

To give you an idea what I’m experiencing, I just recently completed a search for a Digital Marketing Manager with 8 years of relevant experience. Three of my final candidates received multiple offers.  ALL three. That was unheard of just a few years ago. Counter-offers are also making a roaring comeback, and in fact for this particular category of candidate, it’s almost becoming the norm. I’m also seeing upward pressure on salaries. When all was said and done, my client offered a pay package that included a handsome 19% increase in salary.  Granted, 19% pay increases are not the norm. But when you’re talking about highly skilled and accomplished manager-level digital marketing talent- and you know the ones I mean, the ones who can truly make a big difference in your business- sticking with old compensation rules, in this environment, is a losing strategy.

The battle for digital marketers, particularly the Digital Marketing Manager, is full on, and you need to be prepared to take bold actions to attract the best and the brightest. As the above example points out, sometimes that means having to re-think your compensation rules.  I still encounter employers who stubbornly hold to out-dated views that digital marketers need companies, that technology and capital are what give online businesses their competitive advantage, and that exceptional candidates will accept the standard package they’re offered. Nothing is standard these days about a top performing Digital Marketing Manager.  The new reality is irrefutable:  Companies need these candidates, talented people are the differentiator, and the talented ones are scarce.  They are demanding more, and getting it. Understandably, many business leaders and owners are less aggressive when it comes to compensation because salaries and bonuses immediately hit the bottom line. But the new reality requires a new way of thinking.  Don’t be constrained by internal equity.  =When it comes to these candidates, that’s old school.  Pay what the market will pay. If you don’t, one of your competitors will be delighted to take that candidate off your hands, and make the investment without blinking.

Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent and veteran executive recruiters in ecommerce, digital and multichannel marketing, and CRM. With 80 published LinkedIn articles, Jerry is the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 28 years. Check out Jerry’s other insights on the Thought Leadership section of the Bernhart Associates website.

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