Unfamiliar answer

Andy Sarup of Price Jamieson suggests the solution to egaming’s recruitment crisis lies outside the industry.

A mid all the talk of recruitment difficulties and a shortage of skill staff hindering the egaming industry’s ability to grow, it is god to remember the problem is not a new one.

Recruitment has always followed the economic cycle. A shortage of well-qualified candidates, especially mid-level ones, always follows a recession and hits hardest when that shortage coincides with a period of growth. Most recently the collapse of internet investment in 2000 just about halted recruitment and training in the sector in its tracks until as late as last year.
      The current shortage of skilled recruits is not confined to egaming and is affecting just about every sector in which we recruit. There aren’t enough people with interactive TV experience or branding consultancy experience; there aren’t enough data analysts or market researchers; and there aren’t enough good account managers, directors   or planners for agencies, either digital, integrated or traditional.

      Now we have a third ingredient that means this recruitment problem is not going to go away. The constant advances in technology that also mean constant changes in the commercial and marketing skills we look for, mean the Holy Grail of the ‘perfect candidate’ who has up-to-the-minute market knowledge and experience of egaming, cutting-edge skills in, for example, search engine optimization or affiliate marketing, and is a perfect cultural fit with your business may not always be attainable.
      In the early days of the internet, companies were thrilled to find candidates who knew something about the web, had a passion for its potential, pioneering spirit   and a willingness to work  very long hours.
      As we moved into the later 1990s and internet investment accelerated, companies wanted internet experience as well as relevant market sector experience as well as relevant market sector experience as well as relevant market sector experience – and they were happy to pay whatever it took. Salary inflation followed as never before and a real focus on core skills was often lost in the fight to hire people who had worked for competitors.

“Hiring for core skills and cultural fit rather than
focusing on sector knowledge can work well”

      Candidates and clients thoughts nothing of a CV that showed three or four employers over a two-or three-year period – it was considered a badge of honor. But when the crash came, people who has been overpaid and under-trained found it impossible to get new jobs. Companies would not pay inflated salaries and that ‘badge of honor ‘ suddenly looked like job-hoping. Those prepared to reduce their salaries aroused suspicion, and a salary reduction seemed hard to pull off.
      Now, as every interactive channel is growing again, those companies that have prospered are adopting a new approach to solving recruitment problems. The wish list might still be there but the thinking is broader and the approach more pragmatic. There is a lot more emphasis on properly learned core skills that in trn make training in the new skills much easier.

And that training is becoming easier to find. The Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM) the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and E-Consultancy have all recently launched courses and seminars in various aspects of digital marketing and advertising, almost all of which would be relevant to those working in the egaming sector.

Skills not knowledge

Companies in other interactive sectors already know that hiring for core skills and cultural fit rather than focusing on sector knowledge can work well. Egaming companies are taking the same step and recognizing that many of the ‘new’ marketing and commercial skills such as affiliate marketing. CRM and viral have their roots in direct marketing.

Partnership marketing deals, member-get-member retention stratogies and database marketing are all familiar to the trained direct marketer and are remarkable similar to those newly-named skills needed by egaming companies.
      What is more, a good, experienced business developer or brand marketer is a valuable asset whatever their background. Recently, egaming clients have successfully hired and affiliate marketing managers from online retail : marketing managers from online publishers and the blue chips : content staff from ISPs; and media experts from digital agencies.
      At board level there has never been the same reluctance to hire those from other sectors and companies have benefited  from a wide range of backgrounds among board members. Those who have already tried a more flexible approach to hiring managers with specialist skills agree that the mix of those with egaming experience and those with relevant experience from other sectors can bring a fresh approach and huge benefits.