When I ask myself ‘are we running out of talent in the industry?’ my honest and prompt answer is yes. I will explain the reasons why I think this is happening and how we can collaborate to increase the talent coming into our industry and keep it within our channel below.
When it comes to finding the perfect candidate, the most obvious and key criteria that hiring managers look at is the candidates’ experience. The assumption is often that you need to hire people whose experience matches the role requirements, to ensure that they’ll be able to complete their work successfully. However, when looking to fill entry level roles or candidates with affiliate experience, companies sometimes have to expand their research to candidates with wider digital knowledge, as looking purely at affiliate experience can sometimes make the search too narrow. In addition, people with a wider digital experience can bring valuable experience from other channels, looking at how to adapt previous initiatives and strategies that could work well in the affiliate channel.
Global expansion and consequences
When finding good talent, other challenges are a consequence of the global expansion that businesses are experiencing nowadays. Companies want to be prepared to support clients in other countries but have their employees based in the same city. An example would be a client willing to launch their affiliate programme in the Spanish market, but having those employees based in the United Kingdom. This is increasingly a request of brands, so companies should take this into consideration when hiring candidates. They should ensure that candidates have the necessary languages, market knowledge and the right skillset to launch and support global programmes. If a candidate matches these criteria, the company will have greater success at scaling and managing global affiliate programmes. Companies also need to consider other factors such as Brexit which could make it harder to higher candidates suitable for global roles.
Another external factor that cannot be ignored is the conception of affiliates within the digital landscape. The affiliate channel is very often scrutinised for its elasticity and “non-immediate” outstanding results, versus other channels like display, social or search. Consequently, this conception sometimes reaches employees’ opinion and the more junior employees decide to move from their roles in affiliates to other companies “to learn how other channels work”.
Having summarised the current situation and the challenges that we are facing, I’d like to suggest a few actions our industry should take to ensure we are attracting and retaining talent in the affiliate industry.
Firstly, even if expertise is the most obvious criteria for hiring, I’d encourage companies to leave those criteria partially aside and look for the potential in people. If the person has the right profile, personality, is willing to join your company for the right reasons, shows excitement and commitment for the role and in addition, they speak other languages and have wider market knowledge, invest in them. Bring them on board and train them to make them successful at their roles, shaping and developing their experience. You’ll be able to shape their experience to make it fit perfectly within your company, which will reinforce the link between the employee and the company. This is not something that should only be done in the first few months, but something that all companies should commit to doing throughout an employee’s career. If the company cares about its employees and makes this clear to them by investing in training them, this person will be engaged and less likely to leave for another role.
Secondly, to overcome the challenge of the conception of affiliate marketing within digital, companies, leaders and each of us working in this industry must do a better job of explaining the values of our industry and embracing what we do. Our channel is a bedrock of innovation and is an exciting place to work. If this is represented daily by every employee and the leadership, these new “fresh” employees with limited experience in the channel will start to feel passionate about having chosen affiliates and will want to stay. Companies in the industry should also provide more education and valuable content to brands about the value and power of the affiliate channel and how it can be considered the safest channel due to its payment model.
Lastly, if employers invest in training and promoting employees when ready, they will be creating a fairer environment when it comes to real talent in our industry.
In summary, we have some challenges to face when it comes to finding the right talent and we need to be aware of the external factors that can make this more difficult. However, there are a lot of initiatives that companies and each one of us can commit to overcome these challenges and to develop more talented employees that will not consider working outside of affiliates.