Tech talent wars spill into marketing

With the unemployment rate for tech workers below 4 per cent across the US, there's growing competition for IT talent. Lately, some of the demand for tech candidates is coming from outside the IT department. Who's behind it? Marketing.

Marketing departments are recruiting their own tech workers to deploy and manage new apps and systems, says Michael Kirven, founder and CEO of technology staffing firm Mondo. "They're building their own teams, which is accelerating the hiring in large corporations, which is driving up salaries."

Kirven is generally optimistic about tech hiring, which he expects to accelerate in the second half of 2013, in part because of marketing's growing involvement. (See related story: 6 highest/lowest paid IT jobs)

"We're seeing a tremendous amount of activity on the marketing side. Every single day we get requests from marketing folks" who are starting to build their own technology teams within the chief marketing officer's (CMO) organisation, Kirven says. "Probably 30 per cent of our revenue now comes from the marketing side of the house. It was probably 5 per cent just three years ago."

One reason marketing executives are taking IT hiring matters into their own hands is because CIO-led tech departments are plenty busy with core IT responsibilities and might not be as responsive to new marketing initiatives as the CMO team would like, Kirven says. Having in-house tech talent can help marketing departments deploy new tools at the fast pace they'd prefer. "The sense of urgency of a CMO is different from the sense of urgency of a CIO," Kirven says.

The skills needed in marketing departments differ, too, from the skills sought by traditional IT departments.

The vast majority of new technologies that are getting implemented in marketing are cloud-based, so the skills being sought are related to those initiatives, Kirven says. At the top of marketing's list of sought-after hires are business analysts, user interface experts, data analysts, and project managers.

"They're not looking for traditional Java or .Net programmers because they're not building software," Kirven says. "They want people who understand how to model and interpret data, more of a business analyst hybrid with technical brains and business skills."

The surge of hiring coming from marketing is adding to an already tight IT labour market, which could translate into higher compensation for IT pros with hot skills.

"We're seeing a massive amount of investment going in [marketing departments], and that's causing rates to go up across the board. It's much more competitive," Kirven says.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and reach her via email at

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