What do employers want? We survey 30 content strategy job adverts to find out…

What do the people hiring content strategists want from their ideal job candidate? Are certain degrees or backgrounds more desirable to them? What do employers see as the tasks and the skills of content strategy? And, finally, what kind of salary is on offer? We’ve attempted to answer some of these questions below.


This summer at Firehead, we’ve been collating content strategy job advertisements for titles ranging from Content Strategist/Copywriter and Content Strategist/IA to Freelance Content Strategist, Senior-level Interactive Content Strategist and Head of Content Strategy. Some roles were called something quite different but the main thrust of the job was to create and deliver a content strategy.

In total, we have extracted the information from 30 different job adverts listed on job sites during July and August 2011.

The jobs review forms part of Firehead’s new content strategy skills survey, which we will be kick-starting properly over the next few months.

A new survey – from the employer’s point of view

But essentially our aim is to create a list of the content strategy skills that are on employers’ wish lists and to display these for candidates from a range of backgrounds. We want to show more fully the array of different skills and routes into content strategy and to highlight where the skills gap is for those people in tech comms, journalism, marketing, UX and other professions who want to become content strategists – and to enable them to apply for content strategy jobs.

The 26 pages of raw material taken from the 30 content strategy job ads is available to view at the end of this post – or skip to a downloadable version on Scribd.com. The sample is relatively small and the scope restricted by English language results but we think it makes interesting reading for anyone thinking of applying for content strategy work or adapting their skills to the role.

Here are our first thoughts from the jobs survey:

1. Results-driven skills

ROI is being put firmly on the agenda by employers who want to see a return on the content work – whether that is clear customer outcomes or leveraging new opportunities for digital growth. Candidates would be advised to show the results of their work.

2. Hands versus head work

Management, liaison and presentation skills are also frequently cited on hirers’ wishlists in addition to hands-on content experience – those from purely content backgrounds may need to develop skills in project management, training, leading and driving teams, client presentations, cross-department liaison and budget management in order to firm up their applications.

3. Social media strategy

A focus on social media and online community skills in some roles may indicate a trend for being more involved in content aftercare and the responses to your content strategy.

4. Industry focus

We’ve noted that some employers specify the need for experience in their industry, particularly in legal and financial content strategy jobs. Perhaps this reflects the extra compliance requirements or because publishing online content is seen as more risky in traditional professions?

5. Content strategy skills divide

Inventory, audit, analysis, planning and resourcing, creation, delivery, governance, analytics monitoring, roadmapping and creating iterative strategies were all standard tasks. However, there was some divide between marketing-specific, UX/IA and tech comms type tasks.

Different jobs seem to have different focuses depending on whether the budget-holder was a marketing department or a one with a more technical focus. Some roles also asked for the strategist to carry out the work rather than remain at a consultant or strategy level.

6. Localisation

We only noted two adverts asking for skills in localisation of content. However, this is more likely to be influenced by the survey’s limitations in that the majority of jobs using the term ‘content strategy’ are currently based in the US or UK.

We did search for content strategy jobs across a number of European countries but either the job title (“content strategist” equivalent) was not used or the language barrier prevented further drilling down into the content of the advert.

7. Which degree?

A Bachelor’s degree was a pre-requisite for the majority of the advertised roles (or commensurate experience – see below). The most commonly requested degrees were in journalism, communications, English, library science, technical writing and business.

8. Preferred backgrounds

Previous experience was required most frequently in:

  • Media: professional print, digital or broadcast media
  • Marketing: digital content development, social media and marketing strategies
  • Agency: senior management agency experience working on multiple B2B accounts
  • Ecommerce: e-commerce and complex, content-based and high-traffic sites
  • Tech comms: software information products

9. Character traits of a content strategist

Our aggregated pick of 10 content strategy character traits quoted directly from our dataset of job adverts:

  1. Curiosity about the inner workings of the “interweb”
  2. Extremely organized & methodological; attention to detail
  3. Ambition, drive, creative spark
  4. Healthy sense of humor
  5. High tolerance for ambiguity matched only by your desire to organize it
  6. Passionate about delivering great customer experiences
  7. Multi-tasking could be your middle name
  8. Deadline driven; excellent time management/organizational skills
  9. Works well in a team environment, embraces change and is highly adaptable
  10. Self-motivated, effective problem solver; spot opportunities for improving content at strategic and detailed level

10. Rates and salaries

High employer expectations, all-encompassing job descriptions and the senior nature of many of the roles led to a relatively high remuneration scale. Not all of the content strategy jobs advertised their rates but the following examples give some idea;

  • £45-55K [Head of Content Strategy]
  • £55000 – £65000 per annum + bonus and benefits (Senior Content Strategist)
  • £24000 – £28000 per annum + £4k bonus (Web Manager)
  • £50k approx (Head of Content)
  • $75-100,000 (Digital Content Strategist)
  • 75-80k (Content Strategist 3-month contract to perm) to start ASAP

What do you think?

If you’ve read this far, and we hope you have, we’d love to know your thoughts.

If you are in a position to hire, what has been your experience? Are you having difficulty finding the right candidates, what is your priority in terms of skills and are there any particular skills that candidates are lacking at present?

If you are a potential job candidate, do you think the advertised roles are asking for too much? What is your experience – is it still worth applying for a content strategy role if you don’t tick all the boxes? If you are from a different content background, what are you doing to improve your content strategy skills and CV?

We’ll be back in the coming weeks with more details as our content strategy skills survey progresses. If you are an employer, in content and communications in the UK and Europe especially, we’d love to talk to you and get your views. So please do get in touch.

The raw data

FH Survey CS Job Ad Skills Raw Data

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