5 Tips for Finding Remarkable Marketing Hires

August 24, 2015

If you’re struggling to find the right marketing hires, you’re not alone. IBM’s global C-Suite Study says that by 2018, the U.S. will have a shortage gap of about 1.5 million managers and analysts with the technical and digital skills to make “effective decisions.”

Recruiters can counteract this trend by building passive candidate pipelines of emerging marketing leaders. Here’s how:

1. Create community training programs

Andrew Garberson, manager of search marketing at LunaMetrics, points out that Google Analytics and AdWords—both important concepts in marketing—are rarely covered in schools. The company has found, as a result, that it’s challenging to find young recruits that are skills-ready upon graduation. The company counteracts this trend by hosting community education workshops.

“For the last two years, we’ve hosted SEO training workshops for university students,” says Garberson. “We then pair these students with local nonprofits. The students get an education in digital marketing, nonprofits get pro bono consulting, and LunaMetrics gets to meet a group of eager young professionals.”

If you want to find great hires, train them before they have a chance to enter the workforce.

2. Join industry groups to find rising stars

Charlie Riley, marketing and communications director at Lawley Insurance, points out that most top marketing candidates aren’t looking for jobs.

“You have to do a little more hunting,” Riley says. “This is why having a wide network and being active in industry organizations is important to become aware of the skillsets that are out there.”

Riley attends as many industry events as he can—just to listen.

“Paying attention to others talking about rising stars and being involved in industry organizations, you can hear them participate in roundtables or networking opportunities, and pick up on how they communicate, interact with others, and keep up with trends—all important skills to have when trying to fit into a job and company culture.”

Build long-term relationships with stand-out individuals. You’ll know where to look when your next marketing req opens up.

3. Focus your search on soft skills

The most successful marketers are individuals who can forge human connections. While people can learn technical skills on the job, empathy is harder to develop. That’s why Natalie Andrews, online marketing manager at Helpling, encourages recruiters and hiring managers to go for personal qualities over experience.

Be real when interviewing people, and talk about things beyond marketing,” says Andrews. “People that have the passion and curiosity you’re looking for are usually the ones who can talk about music and Google Analytics at the same time.”

Marketing is a field that moves quickly, especially when it comes to technical skills. Find people who can learn.

“When you have curiosity and want to learn and get better at what you do, then you’re the best hire in the world,” says Andrews.

4. Give candidates a test

Talented marketers are able to make sense out of ambiguity. Run a test for this trait as part of your hiring process.

“Give them some pieces of data as part of the interviewing process,” says Curtis Peterson, digital marketing manager at SmartFile. “Ask them to analyze and explain their findings. For instance, you could give them a dummy account with access to your Google Analytics and ask them to tell you what happened on a certain date and see how far they dig into it.”

You can apply this idea to your sourcing strategy, too. Crowdsource answers to a marketing challenge by hosting a competition—similar to what Kaggle does for data scientists. Entice smart marketers to learn more about your company by featuring tough problems to solve.

5. Hire your customers

Courtney Porcella, marketing manager at AwareManager, says that “the hardest person to find is someone who deeply understands your industry and buyer.”

Recruit your customers to counteract this challenge. Hire team members who have, at one point, been in your buyer’s shoes.

“If a candidate can write well and understand the buyer’s pain points, he or she will become a revenue driver,” says Porcella.

Final thought

Worry less about mechanics and technical requirements. Instead, find people with aptitude and empathy. Build your pipeline by sourcing college students, and become active in the marketing community. You have two years to prepare for the looming skills gap, so take action now by identifying great people, early.

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