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, Digital Marketing Manager with over 10 years digital experience, 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 excellent experience and an understanding of all digital touchpoints. They must be really familiar with influencer marketing techniques so, when it comes to developing sustainable strategies for clients, they are able to provide the best solutions that provide real impactful value. Being creative is also a necessity because having innovative and fantastic ideas, and being able to present the story to get buy-in.

Every client has a common denominator, they all have business goals and objectives that they want to achieve whether it’s short term, medium term or long term. 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 support a company's vision, objectives and strategy. The role of the strategist will be to help to identify challenges and effectively put a plan in place to not overcome them but to help accelerate growth.

Looking for the right person takes time and not all companies are fortunate enough to have that. Getting the right person with the right skills is one thing but it’s equally important to have the right-minded person with the right attitude and culture who is really passionate and driven.

When looking for the ideal person, it is my opinion that they should be well rounded and have good experience across B2C and B2B. They should be working across different industry sectors as this can help accelerate growth ideas for impactful campaigns to drive revenue and brand awareness. 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 and agency relationship management. However, 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 are needed for this type of role, and the right person will have the ability to deal with different scenarios 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 really important. The right candidate will have a deep understanding of internal and external stakeholder management with a strong but likeable personality and 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 should be honest, know what’s happening in the industry, and what’s currently happening in the world in terms of industry stats, tools, software and understanding customers.

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

  • A likeable person who is confident
  • A person with a high level of emotional intelligence
  • Excellent commercial awareness
  • Excellent problem solver
  • Brilliant attention to detail
  • Stakeholder management experience
  • Awesome storyteller
  • Experience in different sectors and industries
  • Strategy planning and development experience
  • Excellent all round digital understanding
  • Project management experience
  • 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 people 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.