Sonia Diestel-Feddersen is Team Manager at Hays, helping to head the Marketing, Digital & Communications, Sales and Healthcare teams.
She recruits temporary, permanent and fixed term opportunities and has become an expert recruiter in Marketing, Digital and Communications. It’s a role she’s been in for more than five years, so we asked Sonia what she’s noticed over that time …
What changes have you seen in terms of what employers seek in a Communications Manager?
Over the past five and a half years I have seen a lot of changes in the market. The greatest change that I have seen will not surprise anyone; it’s the evolution of the digital world. The growth of digital platforms has been no doubt the quickest medium that we have ever seen. For this reason, employers have really relied on their Marketing and also Communications Managers to be up to speed with digital and really leading their teams to embrace the digital arena and take advantage of a platform that is cost effective and the most measurable medium.
Another notable change is that Executives now see the value of their Communications Managers, and are supporting the work they contribute, which is fantastic to see.
What would be your advice to a Communications student graduating soon and facing a daunting jobs market? What experience or approaches would help them stand out?
I often tell a story of a candidate that I placed in an iconic organisation in Adelaide. This candidate approached Hays at a networking event and really had the confidence to introduce herself and knew exactly who we were. I then invited this graduate in the next day for an interview and quickly placed her into multiple temporary positions as she was willing to do any role to get some experience and a good solid reference from the line managers. I then had a permanent role to run past this candidate which was highly sought after in the Adelaide market. She ended up winning the role by creating a video making suggestions as to what she could bring to the role and offer. The client absolutely loved this and employed this candidate.
the moral of my story is to do something different
that sets you apart from the competition
A few years later, she is in a really great new job and excelling in her career. I would be surprised if in a few more years, she is not at a Management level with a team supporting her. The moral of my story is to do something different that sets you apart from the competition. It’s really hard as a graduate and I absolutely understand this, however do whatever you can do to be ‘seen’ and be different. Volunteering work within not for profits is also an excellent way to get some experience even if you can’t get paid work straight away. Nothing is easy, and if you have a positive can do attitude, you will be successful. Work hard and be patient.
Do you think enough CEOs and Senior Managers understand the difference between PR and Marketing? What is Hays’ roles in helping guide them?
I would honestly say this is a mix. Sometimes yes they clearly do, and sometimes they really need to be educated. I never recruit based on a job title ever. I will always work with my clients to delve into the duties of the actual role, and if they are looking for the wrong thing, I will tell them. Being a consultant means they come to me for my expertise, and sometimes I have to push back and question things. I believe most of my clients respect me for this, and keep returning when they have recruitment needs.
Do you see many employers trying to blend Marketing, Communications and Digital into one role? Are there any dangers in that?
I am seeing that more and more roles are blending yes. The danger is that you genuinely won’t have a specialist in this field – you will have a generalist. For instance, there are some strong digital candidates, however there is a big difference between a Marketing Coordinator that can use social media, and a candidate who knows everything about paid advertising, reporting and analytics and, key messaging. If cost comes into it, clients should utilise temps for project work, which employs more people and gets the job done with talented individuals instead of trying to blend multiple roles into one.
Having said this, every role these days – not just in marketing but in all fields – does have a digital element to it. So marketing and communications professionals do require a certain level of digital knowledge to be successful in today’s jobs market. However as mentioned, for highly specialist digital requirements, an expert digital professional is worth the investment.
Over the years, there’s been discussion that “PR may die” especially in this digital world. What are your thoughts on that statement?
I totally disagree with this statement! Digital can be used to leverage PR opportunities! So rather than ‘die’, I’d say there’s been a shift and today’s PR professionals build digital and social media into their PR campaigns. This is a big change – rather than attempting to get your message out to a passive audience, they’re now using social media to talk to customers and potential customers. To PR professionals I say embrace digital, roll with it and ensure you are upskilled to utilise this channel!