How to win the competition for talent in a hyper competitive market

Oct 3, 2014 6:20:00 PM

Hiring paid search specialists

For those of you who follow the industry closely, you will know that we are talking about paid search – specifically paid search managers. 

According to an article published by the Guardian in 2013, UK paid search doubled in size since 2008 in cash terms and as a share of all UK marketing investment. As the market was worth some £2.4bn at the time and - as a recent study by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK suggests that spend is still up YoY – this would suggest that we are dealing with a market worth some £5bn + today. 
Now how does this impact the competition for talent you might ask? Let’s take a look at what supply and demand currently looks like…

The paid search specialist vs. the client: what do they both want?

First, prospective ecommerce employers - that are competing for the same pool of paid search talent - more often than not, have an array of criteria that generally includes -

  • A minimum of 3 years’ Paid Search experience and;
  • A desire to progress in and ‘own’ this area moving forward;
  • Has relevant sectorial experience.

Now what do paid search candidates that have 3 years ‘hands on’ experience and the ‘right’ sectorial background (that you want) want?

  • A role that is more ‘digital’ as opposed to paid search specific;
  • Experience in a new sector. If agency-side, the general candidate consensus is a desire to move ‘in house’.

As you can see, supply and demand does not always match up - what candidates want and what businesses need – is often vastly different…

Combine this insight with a general gap in the market for paid search degrees, apprenticeships and restricted corporate ‘training’ budgets and you have a cocktail for disaster… 

Or do you?

What to think about when hiring a paid search specialist

By delving deeper into the qualitative metrics as to ‘what clients want and candidates need’, supply and demand seems to fundamentally line up. The key word here is fundamentally. 

To put this into context, we have established a 3 step process that will help you think differently about how you approach this game – 

1.    Be the paid search candidate – If you had 3 years paid search experience, would you move to do, what sounds like the exact same role, for a company that is similar to the one you work for now? For a similar pay package? No, I am guessing… OK, hoping… 

2.    Embrace an ‘outside the box’ approach to talent sourcing – your competition is doing it. So why are you not embracing this sort of thinking?

  • Tech and pure play e-commerce companies are renowned for this approach to talent sourcing;
  • The paid search team at one of the most renowned pure play ecommerce fashion brands is almost entirely comprised of former agency talent;
  • We have also seen tech businesses appoint actuaries into bid management roles with great success…

3.    Unveil true candidate motives and pitch the role (or disqualify) accordingly

Look at the core aspects of the role; is it data driven, analytical and, will the candidate, by driving top line growth, have genuine business impact and influence? Is this PPC initiative supported at a board level? 

By having this sort of crucial business impact, what does it do for the business? Does it allow you to influence the market, stay at the forefront of innovation?

You would be amazed by all the ambitious talent that emerges when you construct (i) your brief, (ii) conversations and (iii) market pitch around this sort of fundamental motive 

You may discover that what you thought you wanted is different from what you need or who knows; the hard to secure ‘text book’ talent may subtly start to emerge and become available to you, exclusively.

Bottom line – albeit there are so many factors at play in this competition for talent game, we have received great client feedback from clients that have adopted this sort of ‘fundamental’ approach to talent sourcing

Results have included more fruitful interviews, less time spent interviewing the ‘wrong’ candidates and securing more top talent. The sort that come into the role with skin in the game and whose values are aligned with supporting your organisations goals, in the long run. 

This article is a tip of an iceberg. We say it’s time to collectively redefine our approach to engaging, sourcing and promoting paid search talent. 

Are you ready to partake, embrace and lead this change?

Hiring paid search specialists? Need advice on salaries?

Get in touch with our paid search recruitment specialist, Joshua Shrive

What do you think?

Share your thoughts on this post - whether you agree, disagree or have your own insight to share, we want to hear from you!


Subscribe to the cranberry panda blog

Don’t want to miss out on ecommerce news, insights and recruitment gossip? Subscribe to ‘The Panda Express’ updates!