Forget AI, marketers need these skills to get top jobs

office_agency_people2Marketers seeking better paid jobs are being urged to forget the rise of artificial intelligence and instead polish up their soft skills, with communication, strategy, and analytical credentials the fastest growing areas of expertise most sought after by UK businesses.

So says LinkedIn’s 2024 Most In-Demand Marketing Skills report, based on recent hires as well as skills listed in paid-for job postings on the site over the past six months.

While the most in-demand skill for marketing roles in the UK is, perhaps unsurprisingly, “marketing” , communication comes in second, with social media third, followed by digital marketing, marketing strategy, strategy, analytics, project management and customer service, with teamwork rounding up the top ten.

In fact, the demand for communication has increased exponentially year over year, as marketers focus on nurturing customer relationships, building thought leadership, proving ROI, and securing budget to build memorable brands.

Meanwhile, analytical skills are the fastest-growing year-over-year. As companies look to optimise for growth, they are looking for marketers with essential analytical skills such as critical thinking and problem solving to make smart decisions, the report states.

And, with profitable growth a key focus for businesses this year, the report insists it is critical that organisations hire talent that is well-versed in modern marketing approaches such as digital marketing and social media to reach the right audiences through the right channels, with relevant content.

LinkedIn senior director and head of enterprise solutions for UK and Ireland Tunji Akintokun said: “As the world of marketing evolves rapidly in the age of AI, the skills needed for marketers to grow are also changing. Our data finds that organisations are prioritising uniquely human-centric skills in the marketing function, with communication being the second most sought-after soft skill in marketing in the UK and globally.

“Strong communication is critical in building trusted customer and stakeholder relationships, being financially fluent and proving ROI, amplifying an executive’s voice, and building a memorable brand.

“To keep up with the technological curve, companies are also looking for modern marketers who can lean into analytical skills and creativity to problem-solve, and leverage a results-driven digital marketing strategy to boost long-term growth and build their brand’s reputation.”

The report coincides with new research from recruitment consultancy Reed, which reveals marketing salaries have risen by an average of 3.4% over the past year, down slightly from 3.5% in 2022. Other reports have claimed marketing salaries have actually gone down.

Yet, with the UK’s annual inflation rate at 5.2% in December, even a 3.5% increase is hardly going to trigger mass celebrations but they are up marginally from the 2.6% rises detailed in a separate study from Hays. This claimed that nearly three-fifths (56%) of professionals plan to change jobs this year – up from 46% in 2023, and the vast majority (63%) cited concerns that their current salary did not to cover their living expenses.

Even so, the Reed report, based on analysis of 6 million jobs reveals how the marketing sector is performing against other industries.

While the hospitality industry has seen the biggest pay increase in the past year (7.3%) and has bounced back from its previous year’s salary decrease, the tech sector saw the lowest growth out of all the sectors in 2023, with the average salary increase standing at 2.4%.

When it comes to regional differences, the South West (8%) and the West Midlands (7.1%) have seen the biggest increase in wages for marketing roles, with Northern Ireland showing the weakest growth (-4.2%).

Reed marketing recruitment expert Bianca Halliburton commented: “As businesses strive for innovative approaches to capture audience attention, the labour market within this sector reflects a demand for versatile and forward-thinking professionals.

“In 2024, the marketing job market will be characterised by a quest for adaptable professionals who can adjust to rapidly changing industry landscapes. Employers seek individuals with a diverse skill set that goes beyond traditional roles, encompassing digital marketing, data analytics and creative problem solving. This shift is driven by the increasing integration of technology and data-driven strategies.

“To attract the best candidates, businesses need to cultivate a dynamic work environment, prioritise diversity and invest in a robust talent acquisition strategy. Together, these efforts will not only shape successful careers, but they will also contribute to the innovative and impactful future of the marketing and sales industry.”

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