How to Build Your Career in a Post-Pandemic World (For Marketers)
We’ve just passed the 2-year mark since the COVID pandemic began. And in these past couple years, the way companies function and the way we work has completely changed.
Digital transformation, remote work, online communication - these trends are here to stay. With that in mind, we’d like to take a moment to consider how marketers should adjust to this new normal, and in particular, what skills will become essential from 2022 onward.
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Since the initial outbreak of the COVID-19, the way we work has changed dramatically. For example, in Japan, a state of emergency was declared in April 2020, and telecommuting was promoted with the goal of reducing the number of people coming to work by 70%.
Many companies have had to hastily set up remote work and telework systems. At the same time, however, these compulsory changes can be seen as a leap to more diverse work environments across the board. “Reforming the way we work” (Hataraki-kata kaikaku) was a trending idea even pre-pandemic, but had we not fallen into this situation, the progress would have been much slower.
The words used to describe the pandemic have also morphed as the months passed. While we called it a global crisis in the beginning, we then entered a “post-pandemic world,” and the media described our changed society as the “new normal,” showing how we have adapted to live with the challenges of COVID-19, and for the most part- we won’t return to our lives from before the pandemic.
Work-wise, the gig economy has rapidly expanded and people are more accepting of alternative lifestyles. Company-workers are also more attuned to their personal career development, and feel less of an obligation to meeting their company’s goals. In response to this shift in employee attitudes, companies are encouraged to avoid depending too fully on any one team member, so their systems are sustainable even if someone leaves.
Up until now, Japanese companies have based their evaluation on how much an employee has worked on the number of hours they clocked. However, as remote work and more flexible schedules become the norm, this system doesn’t make sense anymore. Rather, managers will need to zone in on the concrete results each individual employee is producing, and evaluate whether the results line up with the time spent.
More generally speaking, as companies place increasing emphasis on getting results, then we see a shift from seniority, where employees are promoted the longer they stay with the organization, to meritocracy, in which the truly skilled individuals who are making the greatest contributions are rewarded with a higher position.
With the need for measurable results in organizations, what skills should marketing professionals hone and what direction should their careers take?
We believe that there are two pathways for marketers to thrive in this era of fast-paced change.
One is to become an expert in a specific field and produce twice as many results as the generalist marketers. The second is to belong to an organization and demonstrate systematization skills that will improve and enhance the entire organization.
The advantage of the former is that by becoming a specialist in a niche field, you will be needed as a person with unique skills within the organization. If you want to change jobs, more high-paying specialist positions will open up to you. Also, if you ever aspire to start your own business, your unique skill set in marketing could no-doubt come in handy.
On the other hand, the second option lets you utilize the knowledge/experience you already possess to reform your current organization. As mentioned above, as work styles become more diverse, it is a major challenge for companies to flexibly change the way they organize. Therefore, "systematization skills" such as maximizing the synergistic effects of people working together and structuring those effects so that other people can do the same will be valuable in the organization.
1. Strong leadership across departments
Successful marketing always involves collaboration with other teams, such as sales and IT, and so a skilled marketing manager needs to take the initiative and bring these groups together and lead them to reach common goals.
2. The ability to think like an engineer
Ideally, marketers should possess or be working towards building programming skills. Even if you can’t code yourself yet, you should at least learn the basic concepts of each major programming language so that you can predict the time and cost it will take to create and update a website, for example, and manage the process.
3. A data-driven perspective
Utilizing data requires not only the ability to collect and aggregate data, but also analytical skills to decipher the meaning behind the data. Although there are still very few experts in data-driven marketing in Southeast Asia so far, they are already in high demand.
4. The ability to manage subcontractors
Often, it’s difficult to handle the whole of marketing with your own limited resources, so you have to outsource website creation, advertising, design, or receive consulting services to speed up the process. The marketing manager should determine where it makes sense to outsource, and then delegate work clearly between your internal employees and subcontractors.
5. The habit of keeping up with the news
Technology and trends in digital marketing change at a rapid pace, and new terminology is constantly emerging. To stay competitive, marketers have to regularly check the news (in terms of both business, technology, economics, and also world events and popular culture).
Whether you want to contribute more to your current organization or are planning on a job change in the near-future, follow the advice we’ve introduced here to stay relevant and keep growing as a marketing professional. If you go about this smartly, you can take advantage of this situation and adapt before anyone else does.