Sky is trialling a new way to recruit diverse marketing talent. Forget the CVs and friends in high places, candidates are being asked to record a two-minute video explaining their story, why a role at Sky excites them and what they do for fun.
If the team like what they see, the candidate will progress to a panel interview – which can be carried out virtually – and then a second interview at Sky HQ in West London. No degree or prior experience in marketing is required.
Kicking off with entry level marketing manager and executive roles, Sky is keen to see if the video entry idea will help the media business attract a greater array of diverse talent.
Sky marketing director Dave Stratton acknowledges the pressing need to build more diverse marketing teams, a challenge true in every large business he has worked in from AB InBev to GSK to BT. He explains everyone he speaks to within the marketing community is struggling to drive interest among diverse groups and people from underrepresented backgrounds.
As the standard approaches weren’t working, Sky knew it needed to try something different.
The first thing to say is we need a more diverse marketing team. It also helps us prevent groupthink.
Dave Stratton, Sky
“We know the more diverse our teams are, the better the work we’ll do. Particularly when you take a large business like Sky that advertises to the length and breadth of the UK, we need to make sure our marketing teams are representing that length and breadth of the UK to get to great work that is going to resonate around the country,” he states.
“It also helps us prevent groupthink. We can often get in our London bubbles, living our lives day to day and having a more diverse perspective around those teams helps check us against that.”
The priority for Sky is finding ‘culture add’ people who can slip into the business, while adding to the culture at the same time. The company is looking for people who are action orientated, forward looking and collaborative, Stratton explains, adding that passion and grit cannot be taught but marketing skills can.
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The video recruitment push is intended to break down barriers that make a marketing role in a large business like Sky feel unattainable.
He shared the concept on LinkedIn, underlining the fact, “you don’t need to have friends in the industry. You don’t need to have gone to the right university”.
“I was hoping by calling it out and hitting it head on that would strike a chord with the people we’re trying to reach,” adds Stratton.
Making the starting point a video message which can be recorded on a mobile phone means a low barrier to entry, while it is hoped the format will allow the candidate’s personality and energy to shine through. Stratton explains Sky wants to be able to get to know the person as much as, if not more than, their experiences.
This could mean talking about their passion for a social media account they run on the side, volunteering they engage in, or even a side hustle.
“We can see you as an individual, for who you are. It’s been really interesting so far to see the videos and the candidates coming through. We’ve had a good response so far, I’d love more,” he says.
“I would love this to reach more of the people we’re trying to get out to. I’m aware with my network and putting it out through LinkedIn, is it going to get to the right people and the people who we want to see? I do think we’ve got to do more.”
Time for collective action
A trial for Sky, the video application process is an attempt to learn what works and adapt the approach going forward.
Stratton explains Sky already has successful graduate schemes and apprenticeship programmes within the wider business, while this recruitment tactic is aimed at opening the company up to people not entering the organisation via standard routes.
The Sky marketing director explains it made sense to initially focus on entry level marketing manager and marketing exec roles for this new approach, although he reiterates the media giant is always on the lookout for great talent across all levels.
With open marketing roles across the organisation, the idea is to find the right people and then place them in the right roles, whether that be working in mobile, broadband, sport or entertainment. The talent recruited via the video entries could be in role over the next six to eight weeks, depending on their availability.
“We have a number of hiring managers who are looking for marketing execs and marketing managers. We open those videos up to those hiring managers and then we’ll be taking those people forward to informal panel-based interviews to make sure we can get them the right role across the business,” Stratton explains.
“The first interview we could do virtually, but we’re very keen after that to meet people face to face and to get them to Sky. We’ve got a fantastic campus just outside West London and it’s great to get people there, because we’ve got the Sky Sports studio, the Sky News studio and it just helps them to see where they would be working and get a feel for the place.”
This is a great test for a marketer to say, ‘Sell yourself as a brand’.
Dave Stratton, Sky
The Sky marketing director is aware of the need to retain this diverse talent once they enter the business. He believes this will be achieved through constant learning and development.
Sky is in the process of setting up a marketing excellence programme involving marketers across the whole organisation, the aim being to produce the “happiest and strongest marketing team in the UK”. Describing people as Sky’s “number one asset”, Stratton believes bringing in the right talent and ensuring they are developed ahead of the market creates a competitive advantage.
The new programme will complement the existing Sky Academy in Marketing, a training programme upskilling everybody from marketing executives to marketing directors in best practice and the way marketing is conducted at Sky.
“One of the benefits of Sky is the big budgets we work with. In the latest survey we’re the number three advertiser in the UK, so it’s an opportunity for people to come in and work on big campaigns and big budgets, take risks and challenge themselves and that’s so important to us,” Stratton states.
If the video recruitment push works he sees it running as an “always on” approach that rolls out to other roles. Stratton believes the video style should work well for marketers as they will, very likely, be required to produce content as part of their day job.
“This is a great test for a marketer to say: ‘Sell yourself as a brand. Produce your own content to sell yourself and if you come into our business you’ll be doing this, just on a much larger scale.’ Whereas for other functions, this may not be the best approach for the nature of the candidates they’re looking at, it’s perfect for marketing,” he says.
Given recruitment is a challenge for the wider marketing industry, especially larger businesses that might appear unattainable to people from underrepresented backgrounds, Stratton would welcome more businesses following Sky’s example.
In fact, he is keen to see the marketing profession join forces on this issue and take collective action.
“We’d be stronger together. I’m sure there’s enough talent out there that if we can come up with an overall initiative, or project as a collective, we would be stronger and have more impact,” Stratton adds.