Digital Strategist: How to hire a digital strategist

This part of the Digital Marketing Recruitment Guide goes into detail about the role of a Digital Strategist; why you need them and which ones to hire. To hire a Digital Strategist, you've got to know exactly what you're looking for and what responsibilities you need your new employee to undertake.

In this section, Nikhil Patel, Search and Strategy Manager at Exact Abacus, shares his experience and knowledge of the digital marketplace to enable your agency to go about recruiting a Digital Strategist in the right way.

A digital strategist must be an all-rounder with good experience and an understanding of all digital touch points, so when it comes to developing sustainable strategies for clients they are able to provide the best solutions. Being creative is also a necessity because having good ideas and being able to present this helps sell your story.

Every client has a common denominator, they all have business goals and objectives that they want to achieve over the next 12 months. Some go above and beyond and look towards the next 10 years, which is why it is important that the right person is hired to be able to realise a company's long-term and short-term vision. The role of the strategist will be to help mastermind a creative plan to help clients achieve their vision.

Looking for the right person takes time and not all companies are fortunate to have that especially within the fast pace of the environment that we currently live within. 

When looking for the ideal person, they will have B2C and B2B experience working across different industry sectors which will help when they have to devise campaigns and long lasting strategies for clients. There is a misconception from some hiring managers that the candidate must have agency experience when working on the agency side but this is not always necessarily true. If you have dealt with agencies and managed them, then you will have an appreciation of client/agency relationship management, and it is more important to understand client expectations which is why working on the client side can have its benefits.  

Having a wide range of skills is needed for this type of role and the right person will have the ability to deal with different situations and business pressures from a change in management to business goals and priorities being moved. Being proactive and having the skill to apply digital solutions to different business frameworks and challenges along the way is very important. The right candidate will have a deep understanding of internal and external stakeholder management with a strong but likeable personality with the ability to present ideas with confidence because selling your story to key stakeholders is a skill that is sometimes taken for granted. 

The right person will be outward looking with a clear perspective of the future and take into account things that not everyone thinks about. This is vital when thinking about future proofing tactics.

For me the key attributes of the ideal digital strategist are:

  • Excellent commercial awareness
  • Excellent problem solver 
  • Brilliant attention to detail
  • Have an analytical mind set
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Stakeholder management experience
  • B2B and B2C experience
  • Campaign and budget management experience
  • Strategy planning and development experience
  • Excellent all round digital understanding
  • Project management experience
  • Contingency planning
  • Having a minimum of 5 years' experience working within the digital industry

A lot of hiring managers may ask the question "do these people even exist" but in my experience when using the right recruitment agency or having the right internal HR resource it is possible to find and hire the right person. This is by no means an easy task because salary and location will play a factor in hiring the right person with the right skills.  


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