The Pyramid of Requisite Skills for Marketing Graduates

New Marketing Snakes + LaddersAre you a marketing student who wants to position yourself for a job after graduation? If so, then focus on building demonstrable skills in the areas that potential employers have identified as important for new employees to possess. Progressing from the broader general skills sought by employers in the 21st century to skills identified by the American Management Association for business school graduates to possess to the narrower skills identified as critical for those seeking careers in today’s marketing environment, the purpose of this blog is to provide a framework for marketing students to consider when positioning themselves for future employment.

Using the framework developed by the Partnership for the 21st Century Skills provides a solid foundation on which to build. Students moving through the U.S. educational system should acquire a broad range of skills that include learning core subjects and 21st century themes, life and career skills and information media and technology skills.

The Base of the Pyramid

The base is a variation of the framework provided by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student in the U.S.A.

Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes

Core subjects required include English, reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, and government and civics. Additional 21st century themes include global awareness, financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy, civic literacy, health literacy, and environmental literacy. Around this inner arch of competency, specialized skills can be developed including life and career skills, learning and innovation skills, information, media and technology skills.

Life and Career Skills

The components of the life and career skills desired include flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility. Marketing students who can demonstrate their ability to adapt to change, work independently, manage their goals and time, work and interact effectively in diverse teams, manage projects with demonstrable results, who can act responsibly and lead others are better positioned for success than are those who are deficient in this area.

Information, Media and Technology Skills

The functional and critical thinking skills desired in this area include information literacy, media literacy, information, communications and technology (ICT) literacy. Marketing graduates should be able to access, evaluate, use and manage information, analyze and use media, create media products, use digital technologies, communication/networking tools and social networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information.

The Pyramid of Requisite Skills for Marketing Graduates

The Middle of the Pyramid

The middle of the pyramid is based partially upon research conducted by the American Management Association in partnership with the P21, reaffirming the importance of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills for success in the business environment. Given the importance placed upon these skills by employers, they are placed above the foundation-level in the proposed pyramid. These skills are identified as Learning and Innovation Skills in the framework developed by P21. In addition, marketing students need to possess a solid foundation in marketing principles, theory and practice.

Learning and Innovation Skills

This category of skills includes creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, and communication skills and collaboration. New graduates should be capable of thinking and working creatively, implementing innovation, reasoning effectively, use systems thinking, make informed decisions, communicate clearly and effectively and to collaborate with others.

Marketing Principles, Theory and Practice

In addition to possessing skills in critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration, marketing graduates need to receive a solid foundation in marketing principles, theory and practice. Suggested coursework includes marketing principles, integrated marketing communication, consumer behavior, advertising, global marketing, marketing research and marketing management. As much as possible, active-learning (learn by doing) should be stressed over passive learning.

The Top of the Pyramid

As we transition from a service-based economy to a knowledge-based economy and from the relationship marketing era to the social/mobile marketing era, employers are increasingly seeking graduates who possess demonstrable skills in inbound marketing. A recently published book, Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs, by authors and HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, includes a chapter entitled Picking and Measuring People. In this chapter, they present the DARC framework for screening future marketing employees. The DARC framework stands for:

D = Hire Digital Citizens

A = Hire for Analytical Skills

R = Hire for Web Reach

C = Hire for Content Creators

Marketing graduates seeking jobs in the current marketing environment should be able to demonstrate proficiency in all of the DARC areas. If you’re a student in a marketing program and not developing your inbound marketing skills, the time to start is now. The investment that you make in building your network, personal brand and mastering social media platforms and tools will pay off during your job search. If your business school doesn’t offer coursework in these areas, take charge of your own education. Sign up for HubSpot’s free Inbound Marketing University (IMU) to study for and earn Inbound Marketing Certification. External verification of skills, such as IMU certification, provides you with a competitive advantage once you enter the job market.

Want to learn more about the skills that you need to possess in order to differentiate yourself as a marketer in the social/mobile marketing era? Register for How to Get Hired and Stay Hired as a Vanguard Marketer, Wednesday, 27 October 2010 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Take the time and effort to invest in building your future success as a vanguard marketer.


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