Our industry is a great one, but it is admittedly insular. People flock from company to company, role to role, but it seems there is a shortage of new talent being recruited into the space.

This is understandable to some degree; the channel can come across as confusing, complicated and difficult to dive into. If you’re not involved in marketing generally, whether it be at a brand or a publisher, it’s most likely that at some point, you had never even heard of performance or affiliate.

Marketing students likely hear of performance marketing and know what it is, but it is rare that it is taught. But on the other hand, many people who work within the sphere came from a marketing background and had a positive experience with the channel, meaning they decided to take the plunge into the sphere for good.

This is great, but the amount of new talent coming into the sphere is not reflective of what a great sphere it is to work within. I believe it’s time that we start shouting about the industry, its benefits for brands and, of course, the benefits of working within it.

Candidates previous experience

When it comes to finding the perfect candidate, the most obvious criteria that hiring managers look at is experience. The assumption is often that you need to hire people whose experience matches the role requirements. 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 solely at affiliate experience can sometimes make the search far too narrow. 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.

What has happened to training?

Forgive me, for I’m going to use the ubiquitous phrase – the pandemic brought with it a lot of chaos. This meant that most of our energy was focused on overcoming the situation and creating strategies that could overcome the changes in consumer habits.

But this means that little to no time has been put into firstly nurturing the talent we already have in the industry, but also training and recruiting new talent. The pandemic is by no means over and done with, but it is high time to be putting focus back into finding some fresh new faces who can thrive within the channel, and whose presence will mean the channel thrives too.

This is a candidate-led industry, but it can’t work if said candidates don’t believe they have the required skill set for it. With a background in marketing, there is no reason that anybody should not be skilled enough to get involved. Even the most seasoned experts started out with no previous experience, but it is essential that candidates can be sure they will be given apt training and have their talent grown.

A greater focus on performance and affiliate in marketing courses could present a whole new host of talent.

So what can be done?

It’s very important that, whilst expertise is obviously the most important factor, companies should perhaps leave those criteria aside and instead focus on looking for the potential in people. 

If an individual shows passion and has a wide knowledge of marketing, this is a great start. Training schemes can ensure candidates become successful within their roles, shaping and developing their experience. This is not something that should only be done in the first few months; all companies should commit to doing it throughout an employee’s career. 

Also, those working in this industry must do a better job of embracing what we do and explaining the values of the industry. Our channel is a hugely exciting one to be a part of, and the future is bright. If this is represented, employees with limited experience in the channel will start to feel passionate about having chosen it.

There are definitely challenges when it comes to finding suitable talent. However, there are lots of initiatives that companies can commit to in order to overcome these challenges and to prevent the talent gap from widening.