Still, talented marketers are finding themselves at a disadvantage, as companies now want marketers to have at least 10-15 years of Internet marketing experience. Because the industry is relatively young, and has not always valued marketing as much as other functions, there are few marketers with this much experience.
As a result, despite the high level of interest in these positions, the pool of potential candidates is shrinking.
For marketers who are committed to a sustainable career in the industry, nothing will add more value to one's resume than experience with the Internet. Necessary experience may include managing Web sites, supporting advertising sales, generating e-commerce demand, overseeing product development, developing lead and customer acquisition and other online challenges.
Because of the Internet's age and the fact that the majority of jobs offer very little on-the-job training in this area, professionals who are trying to break into Internet marketing will need to obtain the pre-requisite experience through their own initiatives. Start within
First and foremost, executives looking to move into the Internet space must seek out the necessary experience from their current employers. While there are other great techniques that can accompany this, obtaining real-time experience within one's current company will be the most important component of Internet training and can then serve as a foundation moving forward.
One of the best ways for marketers to get involved at their current jobs is to take over the company Web site. Traditional marketers can hone their technology skills through posting company updates on the Web site, finding the latest graphics and even marketing the company itself. Although this may seem like an extra responsibility, the benefits will be worth it in the end.
Another way for marketing executives to gain valuable skills is to market themselves, their experiences and even their opinions on the web. The Internet is freely accessible to everyone and marketing executives should take advantage of the networking tools, Web sites and blogs. The more marketers explore the Internet, the more they will learn and grow their experience. Further, if a Web site is successful, the candidate has something tangible to show to a prospective employer, which can help them prove their experience level.
For any professional, the Internet can be a great networking tool that can lead to connections that can help further knowledge, experience and even a career.
Find a mentor
Often, executives learn the ropes best through mentoring with a senior marketing officer. Internet marketing is no exception. By teaming up with a marketing professional who is savvy with the Internet, the novice executive can use this time to learn from the mistakes that others have made and move forward quickly. Generating a good relationship with a top executive also provides the mentee with a more experienced executive and perhaps somebody in a leadership role at the company who can lobby for younger marketers to get the real-time experience they need.
Increase your industry knowledge
Marketing professionals looking to move into the internet sector should attend classes, conferences and/or seminars that discuss Internet marketing. Although this will not help with the overall experience that clients are looking for, they provide executives with leads, tools and ideas to bring back to their employers about Internet marketing. Marketing professionals can also learn what lies ahead for the industry and, most importantly, what the competition is doing to move forward.
Overall, it can be said that hiring managers for marketing professionals in this area may be shortsighted. Many marketers have the skills to succeed and sometimes it can be argued successfully that Internet experience is not all that essential.
All too often, however, the client will not waive the requirement for past Internet responsibilities. Ultimately, marketers who wish to play in the space must seek out relevant experience at their current employer, even if it means taking a lateral move or volunteering for extra work. The Internet will continue to boom, so it crucial to prepare now.
Rick Linde is a Partner at Battalia Winston International, a leading executive search firm. With more than 20 years of executive recruitment experience, Rick is a top recruiter in the marketing, sales and media industries.