Takeaways for marketing specialists from a wartime crisis

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Last week i’m checking CVs, LinkedIns and Facebook posts of specialists running from Ukraine. Sometimes it makes me proud, and sometimes it’s just frustrating.

If you’re living in a bunker – and now it actually sounds very reasonable – Russia invaded Ukraine Feb 24th ’22. First was a shock, then first packing, then long lines at the border and overcrowded trains.. and a lot of disbelief that this is happening. I lived in Ukraine for 16 years, got citizenship, and basically grew up there. Now after the first 2 weeks of “who’s safe, who’s relocated, who needs what”, here comes the time when refugees in Europe are looking for work. And I’m looking at my colleagues’ blog articles, resumes, and job postings.

Hence, I’m sharing some “survival” observations:

Learn your languages

If you had Duolingo in your New Year’s resolution, here’s your sign! Nobody cares about your local language with very few exceptions. Europe is famous for being a land of multilingual people who speak 2-3 languages easily, but it’s heavily dependent on a job.

Personally while searching for a Performance Marketing Specialist in Czechia, many candidates said they don’t want to try for a position because of their not-so-good English. Missing a job opportunity is a shame, not being able to make money is a real problem.

Let’s say you’re a Ukrainian marketer. You speak ukrainian and russian but you can’t work now because nobody wants a marketing strategy for a country in war or for an ironwalled Russia. This is an extreme current example. But let’s say you’re a Czech marketer and Russia rolled into your country (again heh ’68). Who would care about your czech language in the rest of Europe or on another continent? And voila you can’t work. Outside of the current situation in Ukraine, this can be applied to many countries because of some climate catastrophe, racial or political persecution, etc. For example, my russian colleague’s family is escaping Russia to start living in another country whose language they don’t speak.

Knowing more than one language is more than a career advantage, it can be a difference whether you can provide for your new life.

Invest in your self development

Not gonna lie, I love good interior design. I have Pinterest boards of a dream study since I had barely any money to afford my own laptop. The thing is… when you’re running away you can’t take your designer couch with you, you can’t trade that minimalistic desk setup for food, and a fancy bathtub won’t protect you from a missile. Ok, I’m getting even myself depressed.

Buy Assets Not Liabilities. Invest in assets. YOU are your most dynamic asset.

Generally speaking, real estate is a good asset long term. Even if there’s no war, there can be any other kind of trouble: a factory nearby, chemical poisoning, city plan changes, neighbor who falls asleep with a cigarette and burns down your apartment complex, and about 300 other horrible things that can go wrong. They mostly won’t. But hey… so thought my family’s friends who had a missile land 5 meters from the house they’d been lovingly building for past 5 years.

You always have you, your knowledge, the courses you took, the mentorship you had, your skills, even the work you did on your mental health and becoming a better version of you – personally and professionally – this is the thing you don’t need an emergency backpack for. Maybe you’ll be lucky and nothing bad ever happens to you. But what’s the worst that can happen? Either you’ll be smarter and more mobile; worst-case scenario your career will grow exponentially.

Social bubble is your oxygen bubble

Networking is a key to business and career success – as every introvert reads and shudders. That doesn’t make it less true. Now for some, it’s a career survival question.

Stage 1. Actual survival. When “shit” goes down your network is your immediate survival: who can get meds, who can stand in line to buy food, who has a better shelter to hide in, who has a car, who knows somebody who can get you somewhere… Primal survival of people as a group.

Stage 2. You escaped and need a job. Ex classmate share their CV, a friend of a mom’s friend need a consultation about working as a refugee in Europe, mom of an ex’s new boyfriend asks for CV translation, colleagues in your work niche from other countries are reposting specialists or asking for a job themselves.

It is in Stage 2 where your work networking kicks in. Who you followed, who you read and interact with in comments, who you worked with at some project, who you talked to at some conference – now is your lifeline. Suddenly “I just did my job well, and the only one company I worked at knows this”… might not be loud enough. The right person resharing your “looking for a job, here’s my LI” make be make it or break it.

Strategy over platforms

If you’re a marketer from USA or EU you’re probably used to the standard Linkedin, Meta (Facebook, Instagram), Google and Twitter pack of tools. If you’re more “spicy” you’d add there Quora, Microsoft, Pinterest, Amazon, AdRoll, TikTok, Criteo and so on.

Issue 1. There are other platforms that are regionally popular and marketers specialize in those. Hi, Czech colleagues who work with seznam (* local Google), would it matter in Germany? No, it won’t.

I’m not bitter, trust me. I used to do ads in VK (* local Facebook) and Yandex (* local Google), I won’t anymore. Would I suffer – No – because it’s only one of many platforms I know how to use, apart from… you know… supporting an enemy country aspect.

If you look further you’ll see a bunch of other local social or search platforms around the globe, and people make living out of being specialists in those.

Issue 2. If those platforms remain they can be shut down in your country. Look at crying Instagram bloggers in Russia right now, whose world revolved around one platform for the past 5-8 years. Marketers in Russia don’t really cry on their Telegram-stories, but they might in private. Imagine specializing in Meta advertising tools and now everything you’re best at is not available or not even legal in your country.

It’s not “only” Russia or China issue. With recent articles on Google Analytics potential ban in Austria and France, what do you think Google Analytics marketing specialists are doing with their career thoughts? Naaah, I’m kidding. It’s going to be ok with some adjustments, as it always happens. But imagine your company switches from GA to Adobe Analytics because of data concerns.

Does it make sense to learn everything ever? No. There’s just not enough time. If you’re able to tho, please drop me your LI profile 😉

However, what makes sense is that at a certain stage think about strategy over an in-depth knowledge of tools, or a combination of both. The more open-minded you are the quicker you can adapt. If you’re a marketer the platforms are evolving quicker than you get new wrinkles. On a positive note, some improvement in automation gives you time to read, evolve, think about strategy and the bigger picture. Seize this opportunity, it’ll train your brain to adapt to whatever’s behind the corner, even if its’ another country.

Observe your reactions

Less advice only for marketers, but to humans overall.

Look how you react to the stress of news overall, people around you, people you know.

Does it help you to get “distracted” with work?

Does it help you to take time off to process the situation?

Do you dash to stick to one opinion and not budge no matter what?

Do you genuinely have the capacity to help others, either financially or mentally, or it was all only in theory?

Do you feel scared for others or actually for yourself?

Do you follow the crowd? Did you change your company’s logo just because everybody did?

Do you still see value in the job you do when “bigger” things happen?

Do you follow the choices you enjoy or are proud of if your city was bombed today?

Take this time (and pardon the language, opportunity) to look at who you are and if it’s where you want to be. Both as a specialist and a human being.

Most practically speaking, knowing how you react to a higher level of stress will help you at least to prepare or adjust your reaction in the future, for example, to optimize how you’d work on a project. Or to finally be able to honestly reply to a talent source if you DO actually work great under pressure.

Did last few weeks help you observe something in you that surprised you or helped you grow?


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