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10 Tips for Hiring Top Marketing Talent

The marketing team at any company is a crucial part of the brand’s success. Your sales department might be the ones who actually close the deals that feed your company's budget, but it's up to marketing to attract and nurture relevant sales prospects.

That’s why it’s so important to hire awesome marketers who can execute well on core marketing objective and deliver a brand experience that creates momentum and growth.

Principles to Live By When Hiring Marketers

At Lean Labs, we’ve learned a great deal about the process of hiring marketers. Here are the top 10 things we look at when we interview a potential employee:

1. Perfection doesn't exist in the real world.

Decide what really matters to you, and don’t compromise one iota on that personality trait. If you are going to work with someone on a daily basis, you have to get a boost from collaborating with him or her. At Lean Labs, we make sure each of our employees has a great attitude and plenty of mojo. We want to work with people who bring energy to the job and the team at large.

2. Some minds are hungrier than others.

To determine whether potential candidates are hungry for new areas of expertise, ask about things like what they read recently and what they think about current trends. People with this type of drive will always be looking for new and innovative ideas that can take your company to the next level.

3. Culture trumps skill.

Skills can be learned, whereas a cultural fit for your company either exists or never will. For example, design often requires a lot of revision, so you want to hire a designer who gets that, as opposed to one who gets annoyed when new tweaks are requested.

4. Solve blockers first.

Hire for the position you need to fill to fix your company's biggest problem. Don't think about hires according to any recruitment sequencing conventions. If you need a digital media buyer, for example, so you can start placing ads effectively, then it's okay if you don't yet have a CMO appointed.

5. Hire people who live and breathe digital.

Look at candidates' social media profiles to see whether they are active users of social and marketing platforms.  See whether they have a high level of engagement on these channels. A marketer who has a personal blog or other online creative outlet is sure to be passionate about the digital ecosystem.

6. Communication is key.

Hire marketers who communicate well on all platforms – phone, email and content writing. Does a candidate take four business days to return your calls? Did he answer 3 of the 4 questions in your email? You can do better.

7. Value discipline and voice.

You want to work with someone who has his or her own voice and can eloquently share an intelligent opinion about what should be done. No "yes men." On the other hand, you also want your marketers to be disciplined and self-managed enough to file submissions on deadline and according to specifications, so watch out for loose canons.

8. List all jobs at all times.

I once worked at a company where they hired when times were good and hired when times were bad. They were continuously pushing their sales team towards either achievement or starvation. Yes, that might be a little aggressive for your marketing hire stance, but it's better to have ample resumes on hand and candidates you're familiar with when you have a hole to fill. Instead, maintain a published list of every position, so you can compile contact details of good potential candidates to turn to when relevant. Moreover, you never know when a superstar will get in touch – keep an open mind about hiring the "A player" when you see them.

9. Build teams with complementing personalities.

We instinctively look to hang out with people who are similar to us, but the best teams are those where different points of view, workflow methodologies and skills are combined. Hire people who have strengths you are lacking. Balance creative types with data scientists. Teams with personality counterparts will naturally balance creative with analytical, and high-quality with on-time (and on-budget). Every project they touch will be the better for it. In order to find the right personality type for your current team, we recommend the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator test.

10. Communicate the company vision, the “why” behind and it and the numbers that support it.

Teams will do their most passionate and high quality work when they fully understand and believe in their mission. Share your vision for short-term and long-term success and explain how the goals will be measured. Explain what will happen when those goals are reached and what will occur if they are not reached. When your team understands where you are leading them and why it's important to you, they will follow you with passion, creativity and enthusiasm. Start with why.

BONUS: Would you hire yourself? 

Would you want to work for yourself as a boss? Sometimes the failure of a team is a result of the organizational leaders at the top. Make sure you are firing on all cylinders and that you are offering candidates an awesome place to work.

Hiring Top Marketing Talent

Finding the perfect new fit for your marketing team can be a major challenge that requires huge investments of time. In our experience, using the above guiding principles as recruitment rules has helped us to make hiring more efficient and effective. Got any ideas to add? Let us know in the comments section below!

Written by Kevin Barber / December 17, 2014

is the Founder & Director of Lean Labs. He has over a decade of professional experience in Internet Marketing and his top skill is surrounding himself with passionate designers, developers, and inbound marketers.

Kevin has been married 10 years, the father of 3, and he recently relocated to Costa Rica. He enjoys reading professional development books, cycling and motorcycling. Connect with Kevin on Linked In.

Articles by Kevin Barber