Over the past couple years, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing skills, recruiting and interviewing candidates for digital marketing positions. Comes with the gig. Great talent is hard to come by and I happen to be very rigorous in the types of high-impact digital marketers I put on my team. Crazy, I know.

There are a multitude of skills and attributes that make really talented digital marketers stand out above the rest. For those on the job-seeking path, here are some foundational skills that I’ve found to be consistent across every high-performing marketer I’ve hired.

1. Technical Know-How

Particularly in agency world, great digital marketers are often the equivalent of digital swiss army knives. I’ve purposely built my team with a “T” model skills set where each person maintains knowledge and expertise across various facets of digital marketing while specializing with deep expertise around one core area. While fundamental knowledge is good, true technical know-how comes from having worked on projects and within a vast array of tools. Without this base of experience, a technical skills set is merely theoretical rather than practical.

2. Project Management & Attention to Detail

I’m sneaking these two together. They may seem like basic fundamentals, but are rarely a given. Recognizing that project management is it’s own career, every digital marketer should be attuned to what it takes to properly scope a project, organize a team, work with vendors, manage budgets and guide a project from conception to finish. Aggressive attention to detail also requires rigor beyond dotting i’s and crossing t’s. It’s having the intuition to get ahead of bubbling problems as well as ensuring documents and deliverables truly meet client expectations.

3. Writing

There is writing, good writing and great writing. Digital marketers spend a lot of time writing strategies, client briefs, creative briefs, technical guides and documentation, blog posts, social copy, etc. It’s mixed bag and although you’re not expected to be on par with a professional journalist, your writing needs to be clear, crisp and concise. I’m always impressed when candidates I interview note that they follow Copyblogger on a daily basis – it signals to me know that we’re working from the same mindset in terms of understanding writing as a scaled spectrum of art and science.

4. Proactive Mindset

Fact – if you’re not a step ahead of current digital marketing trends in agency world, you’re two steps behind your clients. Staying on top of platform changes and industry trends takes time, effort and most importantly, passion. You have to embrace the mindset of being a lifelong student and you have to want to learn something new each and every day. This is a skill you can’t teach. Digital marketers either have this embedded into their blood or they don’t.

5. Ability to Present

While some digital marketers at agencies have roles behind-the-scenes, most are in a position that requires frequent client presentations. Digital marketers at any level need to be capable of developing their own PPTs and owning a room while presenting ideas back to a client. Half of the trick here is tied back to listening and knowing how and when to adapt, push back and adjust to a client’s needs as necessary. Far easier said than done but strong, authentic presenters stand out like shiny stars.

As a final parting note, I’ll add that it’s also important to think about these skills within the context of your overall career path. The first 15 years of most careers are imperative to refining your skills base and approach to work. While that may seem like a long time, none of us are perfect and there is always room for improvement. Find your weakness, create a plan to address and start studying and applying. Now, come work with me.

photo credit: youngthousands via photopin cc

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