Digital transformation initiatives have accelerated over the past two years, increasing demand for skills in ecommerce, digital marketing and customer experience management. In the first six months of 2021, marketing job vacancies on LinkedIn increased by 63%, with a clear skew towards digital specialist skillsets.

Simultaneously, the emphasis on first-party data is helping drive an in-housing push. Organizations are reluctant to hand off initiatives involving customer data to third parties because it can slow workflow, complicate privacy processes and takes data out of the hands of the teams tasked with managing CX.

The financial markets are contributing to the talent drought, especially for companies that can’t offer early-stage equity or top tier salaries. Venture capitalists invested more than $675B in start-ups worldwide in 2021, roughly doubling the previous high set in 2020. At the other end of the maturity spectrum, technology giants enjoyed record growth during the pandemic and are on a hiring spree to stay ahead.

Finally, the pandemic has opened the doors to fully remote and hybrid arrangements that expand the field of potential employers for skilled workers. This, at least, is a two-edged blade as some companies will benefit from the new pool of remote workers.

Read more of Econsultancy’s 2022 predictions and trends analysis

What can businesses do to give themselves an edge?

1. Apply agile practices to hiring

Hiring top talent is hard enough without having to deal with internal inefficiencies.

There has been a movement in recent years to bring agile thinking to the HR function but hiring has been resistant to change. That’s understandable since it involves multiple internal stakeholders and is a high-stakes part of how the organization invests in the future, but a cumbersome workflow has a direct, negative impact on success.

Given today’s competition for digital talent, prospective employees are evaluating multiple opportunities. How quickly and easily a business communicates with them and provides tangible next steps is a powerful clue about its culture.

The essential goal is to speed the process and reduce friction for the hiring manager and prospective hire.

Applying Agile to hiring has a number of best practices, including breaking it into sprints, simplifying definitions and squeezing as much bureaucracy out of the process as possible.

Building a Digital Culture

2. Look internally first

Most companies post new roles internally, but that’s often as far as their mobility programs go.

The argument for in-house promotion is two-fold. First, existing staff already have institutional knowledge and an established problem-solving network, saving weeks or months of onboarding. Second, employees stick around roughly 40% longer at companies that hire internally.

Best practices should include custom job descriptions, socializing postings and instituting policies that prevent managers from slowing employee advancement. Above all, executives should highlight internal movers to stress that mobility is a cultural value.

3. Use learning to take the pressure of hiring

The hiring boom runs parallel to the digital skills gap, which is covered as its own trend here.  Not only can training address the need for a more digital workforce, it can greatly improve the efficiency of key roles by offloading tasks to general staff.

Digital Transformation: Agility and Innovation Best Practice Guide

4. Attract passive talent

The efficacy of job postings drops as vacancies grow, so it’s especially important to be adept at identifying people who already have a job that might be a good fit.

Many companies outsource the search for passive talent to third party recruiters, but there’s no reason not to make an internal effort.

Standard practices include incentivising employees with bonuses for recruiting from their networks, using targeted social content to burnish the brand for specific audiences and using short-term contracts to vet prospects.

Some companies go further and pay employees a set amount for attracting recruits into the pipeline, with an additional payment if they are hired. The goal is to create active participation in the recruitment engine by as many employees as possible and their time should be rewarded.

5. Stand out with the on-trend benefit for 2022

Like any big decision, choosing an employer has an emotional component.

This is where smaller benefits can have an outsized effect. While it’s easy to deride office climbing walls and beer taps as silly excess, from a hiring perspective these fringiest of fringe benefits are effective signposts of companies with a sense of fun and camaraderie.

Today’s digital worker isn’t going to be swayed by office perks as they’re likely to spend 50%-100% of their time working remotely. But simply “allowing” work from home doesn’t constitute a remote-friendly policy.

Offering a one-time or recurring stipend for remote office expenses is another signpost, one that says the organization appreciates the new demands and trade-offs of remote work.

Modern Marketing Job Descriptions