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Line of 5 people waiting for a job interview. Blog title: Marketers, How To Navigate A Competitive Job Market

Marketers: How To Navigate A Competitive Job Market


DATE: 26 February, 2024

“New Year new me” didn't seem to apply to 2024 as January had a real “2023” feel to it—especially in the job market. Local business, Afterpay, is the latest to announce mass redundancies, following the likes of Bunnings and Telstra last year, and Xero and Kathmandu moving their operations back to New Zealand.

It's not just in-house teams that are hurting. Many enterprise-level businesses are developing internal agency models to save money and take control of their brand. That or it's just part of the never-ending insourcing/outsourcing cycle. Either way, it's meant that marketing agencies are losing their biggest clients and having to let a lot of good people go.

We're seeing signs of improvement which is a welcome relief following 6 consecutive quarterly decreases in Australian job vacancies. With areas like media, comms and software development seeing a 40-50% decline. Combine this with a growing population and you have a competitive job market which is easy to get lost in.

Meme: Scene from the TV show 'Friends'. Man is seen trying to read a map, confused. Resorts to standing on it. 

For blog: Marketers: How To Navigate A Competitive Job Market

“It's not all doom and gloom as I think we'll see confidence return to the market this year as inflation stabilises.”rn

Using your niche skills and the people in your network will help your job search in the meantime.

Utilising your niche

It's difficult for generalists right now. Hiring managers are receiving a lot more applicants than they might have for the same role 12-18 months ago. This gives them a choice. 

The best way to get cut through in this employer-led job market is to make the most of your USP.

Say you're a Marketing Automation Specialist applying for a role. It looks like something you can do—building audience segments, automating workflows, and gaining insights. But you have Marketo experience when the role needs Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Usually, you'd have a good chance of at least getting an interview based on your transferrable skills, but the hiring manager is likely receiving enough CVs with specific Salesforce experience that you may not get a look at.

Or say you're a Marketing Manager in the auto industry and see a similar role advertised at a retailer. There are loads of transferrable skills and in a less-competitive market, if you can demonstrate you're able to work at a retail pace, you'd have a decent chance of getting the role. 

That's not the case right now. 

You're probably competing against solid marketers who've just lost their jobs at the likes of Catch or Kathmandu.

This may not always be the case for junior roles as the right aptitude can go a long way. But if you're frustrated by not hearing back from your applications, you might have more luck focusing on roles in your niche. That way it'll be your CV being cherry-picked. 

This could be applying to the industry you know which still allows you to upskill in a new tool/software elsewhere. Or using your strengths in a tool like GA4 to allow you a change of industry. 

Find somewhere where your CV is going to stand out from the pack.

Utilising your network

Applying for the right role is important, but a recent study showed that only 26% of people got their new job from applying to an advert. 54% of people used a network of friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues or recruiters.

Your approach will depend on your circumstances. If you've been made redundant or are currently out of work, I feel your pain. I was made redundant in the early days of Covid, and it was overwhelming at first. I'd only been in Australia for 3 months on a Working Holiday Visa so if I'd relied on just applying for jobs advertised online, I think my time and money would've run out and I'd be back in rainy Manchester right now. 

I spoke with some good Rec 2 Recs (recruiters who recruit recruiters) who my colleagues recommended. Off the back of some sound advice, I started contacting potential businesses directly to see if any of them were on the lookout for a pale, ginger Englishman ‍. 

My persistence paid off after 2 months. I got a part-time role at a start-up recruitment agency, which became full-time after my probation and led to me getting sponsored 7 months later. Thankfully I hadn't burnt any bridges when I got made redundant as that job came from a recommendation by my old manager!

So, try to get on the front foot and:
  1. Update your CV with your most recent achievements. It's best to do this while they're fresh in your mind/while you still have access to the data.
  2. Speak with your current colleagues or friends in the industry and reconnect with ex-colleagues so you're on their radar.
  3. Reach out to recruiters directly and build your connections with new potential employers.
  4. Update your LinkedIn profile and show you're open to work. Ignore the weirdos who don't like the green ‘Open to Work' banner on a profile pic.
  5. It can be daunting, but it's worth posting about it on LinkedIn as they can get great traction.

It may not need to be as drastic if you're employed and passively looking. Reach out to 1 or 2 recruiters who specialise in your area as they'll have direct access to hiring managers and, in some cases, will be recruiting jobs exclusively so you'll only have a handful of people to compete with. 

If possible, start attending face-to-face meetups. Online meetups are a great way to build your market knowledge, but in-person is where you'll get to know your peers and maybe even hear about upcoming roles that aren't on Seek or LinkedIn yet. 41% of people in that survey found their job through knowing someone at the business so an internal referral is worth its weight in gold!

Even with a referral, you'll need a succinct, tailored CV to back it up. I wrote some CV Tips in a recent blog if you need some help updating yours.

Maybe you should reconsider your options…

If you've been out of work for a while, you may need to widen the net. Reconsider what's essential and what you can compromise on. This could be taking a contract to tide you over, taking a part-time role or maybe taking a slight step backwards to get back on track.

When I'm speaking with a candidate who's employed, I'll ask why and how long they've been looking to leave. Their reasons may be:

  • They're happy with the culture and team, but the work has become repetitive.
  • They've been with the business for X number of years so it's time for a change.
  • They haven't got the promotion or pay rise they were hoping for.

Commonly, people haven't voiced these concerns properly to their manager. I would encourage you to explore all internal options or potential changes to your role before you decide to leave. 

We're in a volatile job market.

I spoke with an unlucky candidate in January who'd just joined an agency before it unexpectedly lost a big client, and they were made redundant. So, the grass isn't always greener!

I read something recently that suggested another job offer is a great way to get leverage for a pay rise. I wouldn't recommend this. Even if it works, I think you've broken the trust of your manager as they'll likely think you're a flight risk and surely you should be thinking “Why did it take my resignation for them to all of a sudden afford to pay me properly?!”. If you are genuinely faced with a counteroffer, then I'd still consider the above as it could just be papering over the cracks. (Although I don't think the 80% counteroffer myth is accurate).

If you're getting itchy feet and getting nowhere with your applications yet, there aren't any immediate changes you can make to your role, maybe batten down the hatches for a few months. Recruiters you've spoken to will let you know if any interesting roles pop up in the meantime. 

As we head into the new financial year, you can see what your options look like. Maybe your next salary review will lead to the pay rise you're after.? Or maybe there's a budget to create a new role for you? If not, give time for the job market to stabilise and become less competitive.

Hopefully one of these small changes to where you're applying, to your CV or even to your current role is helpful. Feel free to reach out or connect with me as I'm always happy to chat about it in more detail.