Why T shaped employees are the future of marketing

Picture of Bethany Lewty

We know without a doubt that the COVID-19 crisis changed the future of work. From mastering new tech at home to remotely managing staff and clients – and collaborating virtually with colleagues, upskilling has been widespread. 

While a lot of businesses are embracing a hybrid model of work, we're seeing a big trend toward hiring interdisciplinary employees and believe the future of marketing lies in the T shaped employee. 

So what is a T shaped employee?

Glad you asked – a T shaped employee is a subject-matter expert in at least one area and knowledgeable or skilled in several other areas. Picture the vertical bar on the letter T representing the depth of someone's skills and expertise in a single field, and the horizontal bar representing their ability to collaborate across other disciplines beyond their primary field.

Synx-T-shaped-employeeIn the marketing space, a T shaped employee might be a marketing manager whose primary skill set lies in traditional marketing, but they also have the ability to do some graphic design as well as content writing, social media and video.

Of course there will always be areas of work that require an expert, but according to Jason Yip, a senior agile coach at Spotify, not every task requires an expert. Specific can be offloaded to T-shaped team members because their skills and expertise aren't limited to a single niche. Yip argues this kind of cross-functional work encourages cross-training, which means leaders can do more with the same number of people. 

How to become a T shaped marketer

As T shaped marketers increasingly grow in value, how might you become one? Great question. 

To become a T shaped marketer, it's important to start with a general understanding of marketing principles across the board. This doesn't always mean a formal qualification in marketing (although that can help), but broad training or certification that gives you a little bit of everything is a great way to start. 

The question that comes next is, what am I an expert in or what do I want to become an expert in? You'll want to layer your training, certifications and continuous learning to ensure your expertise is sharp and keeps up with industry changes. 

Once you know what you're an expert in, or want to become an expert in, you can ask yourself another question; what facets of marketing do I also want to be knowledgeable in - and start to brush up on those skills/tactics. The HubSpot Academy has a huge range of training videos specific to marketing available, as does IMPACT+.