Director of Digital Strategy (posted on 5/29/12)
XYZ Company is seeking an experienced Director of Digital Strategy to define innovative and highly effective digital marketing strategies for our Fortune 500 clients. Excellent client management, strategic thinking and executive communication skills are required. We are proud to be an EEO/AA employer M/F/D/V
C lamented that she didn’t have a lot to work with to prepare. I disagreed, and together we decoded the job description. After decoding, we were able to prepare her approach to the interview, based on her making the match between her experience and that required by XYZ Company.
Taking it key word by key word, here’s what this brief job description really means in XYZ’s view:
Experienced – We want you to have to have worked in the field for some period of time – definitely more than a couple of years.
Director – To us, you’re senior level, that you’ve worked in field sufficiently to justify us believing you’re able to direct an endeavor – probably a minimum of 10 years. We want you to have had 3-5 years managerial experience, because you have to be able to manage all the moving parts, people, processes, and client relationships (internal and external). We’re an advertising & branding company, so we hope our Director-level folks have the ability to do business development in some capacity, i.e. identify new opportunities for the business. At the Director level, you will have lots of interface with different departments so you’ll need to be able to manage across and up. We’re implying that you are and see yourself as a leader – the one who develops a vision for your area and has the ability to enroll, engage and motivate others. We want you to be a thought leader and people leader. If you have some successful entrepreneurial experience or tendencies, that would be good, too.
Digital – We’re deliberately using a broad term that incorporates a wide range of platforms, media, methods, technology. Should have experience with it all: website, social media, experienced with different platforms and applications.
Strategy – mentioned 3 times so it is the key piece of the job description. You’ll need to be able to see big picture, have a vision, know what you’re starting with, identify goals and build/lead a plan to build business. Clearly digital is seen as strategically important to the overall business, so you’ll play a big role in the organization. You need to be able to play well with the leaders. That means you must have some political navigation skill. If you don’t know what that means, this may not be the job for you.
Define – take the lead in determining meaning of digital marketing strategies. We don’t already have a lot of preconceived ideas, so we’ll be looking to you.
Innovative – Not your usual approach, something we haven’t seen before, a fresh and unexpected perspective, new and uncommon, perhaps building on what we already do in campaigns.
Highly effective – This has to work for our clients. We need our clients to make money and/or see enough Return on Investment (ROI) that they will keep working with us. Show us how you’ve been effective i.e. money-making in the past, so we know you know how to do this.
Digital marketing strategies – This is the guts of the job. You need to be the leader, guide, architect, conceptual brains behind our agency’s digital offerings. You don’t necessarily have to do design etc yourself, but you need to be able to know how the digital marketing world works, what the best strategy options are, and what would work best for our clients.
Fortune 500 clients – We are big players, we have important clients. Please be suitably impressed. And make sure you’ve worked with Fortune 500 brands. We will only consider people who already know the landscape and the politics involved with serving major brands.
Excellent client management – Show us how you’ve handled challenging clients in the past, because we need you to manage some difficult personalities. Some clients will be easier than others but they are all very demanding and want top performance and results.
Strategic thinking – Here it is again. We really want you to be a strategist. We really want you to think strategically for our very important clients. Show us how you’ve done that in the past. Speak specifically to the concept of “strategy” and give us some examples.
Executive communication skills – Oh, did we mention that you’ll be working with our top leadership and leaders at our clients? You need to be able to communicate effectively with them. That means not getting upset when they get upset. It means selling them on things, too. Here’s where your business development skills could be useful. We’re not saying we want you to do business development, but when you’re operating at this level, it’s expected. Just sayin’.
“We are proud to be an EEO/AA employer M/F/D/V” – you should know that we are a progressive firm, we understand that there is a culture here and we work on it. So if you want a place with a progressive, enlightened culture, we’re your place. Remember, though, we really need you to deliver profit for us.
I think you can see that there is a LOT of information contained in those three sentences. Practice decoding job descriptions, and matching your experience to what they really want. You then can construct a cover letter that addresses the key points in the job description and shows the employer that you both understand the job and have the qualifications to do it.