The surprising thing Google learned about its employees – digital skills aren’t essential…

I have teenage children, aged 14 and 15, so an emerging topic of conversation is what career they would like to pursue. I find this interesting, particularly given I still haven’t a clue what I want to do in my career, even after working four decades in marketing and advertising.

Most schools hold regular updates about “the jobs of the future” and the skills our kids will need to succeed in the digital world. You’re probably aware of the need for STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that the career advisers and alleged experts believe are essential for a future success.

These skills are often quoted by the digital marketing virtue signallers, as part of their effort to position themselves as marketing experts (over marketers who really are marketing experts). They claim if you cannot code, you’re not a marketer.

You don’t need a marketing degree to be a digital marketer…

Well Google has done some research on its staff, as it was a STEM employer of choice. The results have been published in an article in The Washington Post and they are very surprising indeed.

The essence of Google’s research findings, and that of another piece of research conducted by the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers (which includes both small firms and large ones like Chevron and IBM) is that STEM skills don’t count. Well not in the way they have been historically favoured.

The skills needed to succeed in the digital world are the soft skills, not the hard digital skills. These skills include being able to communicate and listen well; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

STEM skills are vital to the world we live in today, but technology alone, as Steve Jobs famously insisted, is not enough. We desperately need the expertise of those who are educated to the human, cultural, and social as well as the computational.

And go figure, to succeed in marketing you need marketing skills, not computer skills. Who’d have thought hey? Maybe this is why companies are starting to eliminate the word “digital” from marketing job titles.

It’s surprising how long it has taken so many companies to realise what type of people they should hire for success in the digital world. I mean, all they had to do was watch The Intern.

I spend much of my time consulting with and mentoring young digital marketers. It’s almost a fulltime business – and might be soon. The main reason I do so, is these digital marketers don’t know very much about marketing and are worried they are out of their depth. They know how to post on social media and use Slack to “communicate” with their colleagues about when to play the next game of Foosball, but not much else. They fear they will fail as they don’t have the expertise.

So next time you’re in a meeting and an alleged digital marketing expert claims to have a new secret sauce for digital marketing magic, lean over and clip them behind the ear – twice. Just so they know you’re serious.

Stop your digital B.S. and get a marketing qualification…

Gotta go now – I have an appointment with a careers advisor…


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