Which is more difficult to hire, techie or marketing?


I know it's dependent on the employer's background, but in general is more difficult to hire great marketing staff or product developers?

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asked Feb 24 '10 at 13:12
G Rex
683 points
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5 Answers


I'll predict right now that the techies will say 'marketeers' and the non-techies will say 'developers.' Just a hunch...

answered Feb 24 '10 at 13:14
Chris Hagner
881 points
  • +1 Absolutely. Not only does one know more of the same kind of folks, one also has the skills to accurately measure competency in one's own arena. – Tim J 14 years ago


Marketing, hands down.

Marketing is a squishy job. It's hard to define, measure and hold accountable. Coding is a lot easier to define, measure and hold accountable. Bad marketing will only show it's ugly head once the product is launched and there is zero sales. Bad code (or engineering, take you pick) jumps out at you. If it looks bad, performs bad, then it's bad engineering. You don't even need to be an engineer to see that.

Caveat: This is coming from an engineer turned executive who has seen a lot of bad marketing. So much so that I can't help but be a little jaded.

answered Feb 24 '10 at 14:00
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
  • Actually Jarie, I would argue it is precisely _because_ you are an engineer that bad engineering jumps out at you... :-) – Steve Wilkinson 14 years ago
  • Touche'. I still think that the more objective world of engineering is easier to grasp that the squishy world of marketing. – Jarie Bolander 14 years ago
  • I agree. I'd focus on their presentations to you. Request that they present a portfolio. – Publicrelate 13 years ago


Here's a slightly different answer. (BTW, I have a marketing degree, have been a developer for 10+ years, am currently in a sales & marketing role, and have had to hire for both roles.)

The answer is: It depends. It depends on your market, geographic location, and recruiting resources.

Here's a very unscientific & anecdotal example: I'm located in Silicon Valley, where there are a large number of both marketers and developers. When I posted job listings for both roles, I received almost 2x more resumes from marketers than developers. However, after weeding out the unfit candidates, I had roughly an equal number of potential candidates for both roles. (Caveat: I posted these listings on different niche job boards aimed at each particular role.)

Both roles also have specialties that will vary their hiring difficulty. For example, finding marketers with social media experience netted me tons of resumes. But only a handful had experience beyond "using Twitter and Facebook all day." Finding LAMP developers gave me a deluge of resumes, but I only found a trickle of AJAX developers.

I strongly suspect that my experience would be totally different if I were in Seattle. Or Colorado Springs. Or Bangalore.

answered Jul 25 '10 at 03:40
Mike Lee
1,356 points


My 2 cents.
I see this as industry dependent. So development and marketing occur in almost all industries together but the need for a stronger skill set is different based on the industry. In general industries that are long estabilshed are easy to predict and so the marketing of the industry is established. In industries that are emerging or in rapid change then the marketing smarts required to adopt is far higher. So say old school department store brick and mortor retail which is an old business or banking again an old business the marketing is "easy" compared to keeping together legacy systems with emerging technologies so operations can to use the information systems they need.

answered Jul 23 '10 at 06:38
John Bogrand
2,210 points


Chris is at least half right. I'm a techie and I say marketers with a few caveats. It comes down to subjective versus objective evaluation. I can give a developer a code test and determine objectively if he knows how to code. I don't see how you could test a marketer in the same way, at least without some kind of trial employment period.

Without being able to give the person an objective test, it comes down to past performance which means prior jobs and references. I still think evaluating a coder's prior work is more objective, but the longer the track record of success, the more it evens out. I don't see much difference in evaluating marketers and non-coding technical people like a CTO. Of course, I don't think I'd hire a CTO that didn't code for a startup.

Also keep in mind that marketing for a large company versus a startup would seem to be a bigger adjustment than coding for a large company versus a startup. I've coded for both and, while the working environment is different, code is code.

answered Feb 24 '10 at 13:49
Brian Deterling
984 points
  • I'm not saying it's done very often, but I believe that a marketing candidate could be given a marketing puzzle/use case to 'solve' that would be very similar to presenting a techie with a technical problem to solve. Yes, yes, it is less objective, but I think it would demonstrate the individual's very real capabilities. Lastly, even if a coder 'objectively' solves a problem (i.e. the code runs, the feature works, etc.), there's still a whole lot of subjectivity in evaluating the quality of the solution. In both fields, style/design/creativity are huge variables to contend with. – Chris Hagner 14 years ago
  • True, but with a code test, you can run it and verify that it works, even if it's not the way you would have done it. You can usually tell the difference between clever and stupid. How would you validate that a novel approach on a marketing test would actually be effective? In fact, wouldn't you prefer candidates that come up with new approaches even though it's a purely subjective evaluation? – Brian Deterling 14 years ago

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