Find the Right Marketing Talent

March 21, 2017
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Focus on key role requirements to land the right digital marketing candidates.

The head of marketing analytics at a manufacturing company needed a marketing analyst. But first, she needed a job description. She recognized that a list of must-have qualities that included everything but the kitchen sink had derailed past searches.

For this role, “Experience with web analytics packages” and a “strong understanding of cross-media tagging and tracking” were vital to success. Experience working in large and complex organizations would be important, but not necessarily tied to success. Meanwhile, experience with marketing execution across channels would be advantageous, but not required.

Specifying and tightly defining the role and its success requirements, and aligning the hiring process with the larger marketing objective of improving the quality and consistency of first-party data, enabled her to find just the right candidate.

“Invest time before drafting the job description and drill into the primary requirements of the role to determine the elements that are material to the role’s success,” said Ewan McIntyre, research director, Gartner for Marketers.

The marketing skills gap

Gartner’s 2016 “Marketing Organizational Design and Strategy Survey” highlighted a difficult truth for marketing leaders: The most strategically important capabilities marketers need to support their expanding mandate are the hardest to acquire. For example, there’s a scarcity of talent in roles such as analytics and digital commerce, driven by growth in adoption across industries, locations and businesses of all sizes.

Despite this gap, marketing leaders fixate on finding the ideal mix of strategically important capabilities, matched with broad and deep industry experience (aka the marketing unicorn).

Few candidates match this ideal, and they command a premium, so a more pragmatic approach is required. Answer these questions to increase your chances of success:

  1. What are the most important business goals you need new hires to accomplish?
  2. What’s more important to successfully achieve these business goals — industry experience or know-how for marketing capabilities?
  3. How do the compensation packages and culture you offer measure up to the expectations of candidates with the needed skills?
Focus on the right skills and industry experience

Marketing leaders are tempted to overspecify and define the perfect candidate as one who can hit the ground running from day one with minimum onboarding, ready for any potential projects. This often requires candidates who are skilled across many marketing disciplines and have deep industry-specific experience — a relatively small and scarce pool of talent. Take care to identify the elements that are material to success for the role and clarify the right balance of capability expertise and industry experience required.

Focus on the primary requirements of the role

When building job descriptions, define the must-have skills and experience for that role. These are the skills and discrete qualities that are central to the success of the role. Simply put, a candidate without these qualities could not reasonably deliver in the role.

A social media management role in a financial services company must have a working knowledge of social properties in relevant markets and experience in content development in addition to social analytics. The role requires adherence to financial service regulations, so experience working in highly regulated industries is advantageous; however, considering the rigorous onboarding processes at many financial services organizations, should a lack of experience preclude a candidate from the role?

“As marketing’s accountability grows, so too does the range of talent that marketing leaders need to support their strategies,” said Mr. McIntyre. “To improve your recruiting processes, hone the skills and experience that are material to success.”

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