Hiring staff is always a challenge, and with the high costs of training and potentially replacing a hire, it often feels very high stakes.
We’ve built and led marketing teams large and small over the years, and we help our clients find the right marketers to join and grow their teams. If you’re currently looking to build out your marketing team and want some extra support making the right decisions, please get in touch.
Here are three things to look for in marketing candidates to help make the process a little easier:
The first thing we look for in any job applicant, but especially in marketing positions, is bravery. Why? Because you don’t want the hardest thing this person has ever done to be an element of their job. When we say this, we mean calling a colleague, manager, or client and saying they made a mistake shouldn’t be the most difficult experience of their life. Giving a presentation to their peers shouldn’t be the most nerve-wracking thing they’ve ever done.
Marketing jobs are challenging and high-pressure, and mistakes get made. Look for people brave enough to speak up, make tough decisions, and work through any problems they might encounter.
How do you select for bravery? Here are a few things to look for in cover letters and resumes. Examples of:
Having started a business or extensive side project
Having held high-pressure jobs before (like customer service or retail)
Having moved from another country
It’s rarely ideal to be someone’s first job—they’re still learning how to be a professional—but that doesn’t mean you need to look for someone with many years of career experience. Just a few important life experiences may be all you need to know that they have a capacity for bravery and new challenges.
This one is almost too basic to mention, but that doesn't make it less vital. Marketing is a business of words, and the ability to write is a direct application of the ability to think. You don’t want to hire someone who can’t communicate in writing clearly and simply. You want to hire someone who can respond to an inquiry the way it was addressed to them—an email with an email, a phone call with a phone call, a text with a text. You want to avoid hiring someone who must speak face-to-face or on the phone to think through a problem—the thinking should have happened before they came to you.
How do you make sure you’re hiring someone who can write—and think? Always require a writing sample of new work. Past writing examples don’t paint a full picture—you don’t know how much editing went into the sample to make it readable.
Instead, once you have narrowed your candidates down to one or two, request a new writing sample—either a short (~200 words) blog post, press release, series of social media posts, or something similarly small—and review it for clarity and simplicity over style or pizazz.
Then hire the clearer thinker.
Importantly, never require a person to complete a test in person without telling them ahead of time. Ideally, always give the person the day to get back to you with their sample. Throwing a test at someone who was only expecting an interview is rude at best, and will turn away your most qualified applicants—because they’ll know you’re looking for how they perform on tests, not how well they work.
Finally, you want to hire someone who looks at their job through the constant lens of marketing. Why? Because as marketers, there is a higher expectation on us to get things right—our work is very public. You want to hire someone who is always thinking about the marketing implications of everything they’re working on.
How can you get a sense of that? Consider whether they take care to make their emails professional and courteous. Do they select readable fonts for their documents and apply proper formatting, or do they use the defaults? Is their resume professionally formatted and does it only contain relevant information? Is their LinkedIn profile up-to-date and relevant?
Ideally, you will hire someone who sees the job application process as a marketing exercise. A sales process that requires careful thinking and studious attention.
Making a hire
These three considerations will hopefully help you make the right decision when you hire next. If you want further support, we can help vet candidates, review job descriptions, and scope job requirements. We also have partnerships with recruiters we respect and trust and can happily set you up with them.