What It Takes to Get Ahead in Your Marketing Career

Today’s marketing industry is growing and changing at lightning speed. Marketing leaders are looking for key skills, attributes and characteristics when building their dream teams. So whether you’re searching for a new job at a different company or trying to accelerate your career at your current one, it’s time to get real about what it takes to achieve your career goals.

TM0310_businessclimberToday’s marketing industry is growing and changing at lightning speed, so if you’re looking to land a great marketing career opportunity, you’ve got to be savvy and strategic in your thinking and execution. Marketing leaders are looking for key skills, attributes and characteristics when building their dream teams, so whether you’re searching for a new job at a different company or trying to accelerate your career at your current one, it’s time to get real about what it takes to achieve your career goals.

I recently spoke with Laura Patterson, President and Founder of VisionEdge Marketing. Ms. Patterson is one of the leading authorities on marketing and performance management, marketing operations, and marketing data and analytics – and has helped more than 100 companies in a variety of industries fulfill their marketing potential and achieve a competitive advantage.

I wanted to get her perspective on how she hires for VisonEdge, as well as what it takes to maximize your success in your own organization.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Michelle Robin: What types of qualities do you look for in candidates?

Laura Patterson, President and Founder of VisionEdge Marketing
Laura Patterson, President and Founder of VisionEdge Marketing

Laura Patterson: The role has a lot to do with it, but generally speaking, we look for people who have common traits, the first being passion for service and learning. We’re a service organization in a space around data and analytics, process, transformation. And, it’s a space that evolves, so you can’t just assume that what was working, say 20 years ago, will work today, so marketing professionals must have a passion for learning. We have a motto in our company: Teach our customers how to fish, and you’ll feed them for a lifetime, rather than simply giving them the fish, so they’re not beholding. You have to be thinking that way all the time.

I’m also looking for someone with really excellent communication skills. We work with companies all over the world, so you’ve got to be able to communicate online, over the phone, as well as in person. Good, solid presentation skills and facilitation skills are also crucial.

It’s also mandatory to have people on our team who are responsible and reliable. Customers are counting on us for deliverables, and there’s often a time crunch. They have a problem, and they’re trying to solve it as quickly as they can in order to be successful.

Our team members also have to be resourceful and have the ability to evaluate. Part of being a creative problem solver is being able to evaluate. Finally, the last thing is initiative. You need to solve the problem, get the job done and move it forward.

Robin: Those are all great soft skills. How do you evaluate candidates for some of these soft skills?

Patterson: We prefer to hire people that we’ve worked with or come from referrals. It helps that I’ve been in the industry a long time, and most of our team has engaged in customer work for a long time as well. Often times, our candidates are people that our team members have known, so we have a sense of their caliber of work.

We look at their Linked in profiles and their Twitter account, too. They are the face of our company, so they’ve got to be professional in their impression. You don’t have a second chance to make a first impression, and my people are definitely checking them out.

Robin: Of all the qualities you’ve mentioned, what is the most important thing you consider in assessing a candidate?

Patterson: Integrity. Ethics and integrity are very critical. There’s a lot of autonomy in what our senior level people do, and there’s even a level of autonomy in what some of our junior level people do, so if you’re not coming from a place of integrity with a really strong value system, you’re going to struggle. Trust in our industry is also very important.

Robin: When you’re hiring people, how important is a person’s resume? Also, how about a cover letter?

Patterson: I find that it’s most important with our folks that are at an earlier stage in their career, instead of the folks that are at a later stage in their career. That might sound strange, but odds are that if they’re later in their career, I have many other ways to vet them. I know people they know, companies they’ve worked at.

So when we receive their resume and cover letter, we are able to easily determine whether or not the candidate is appropriately representing himself/herself. It’s very unlikely that someone in a senior position is someone we don’t know. But in the junior ranks, the resume and cover letter are very important because we don’t know them. We want to be able to ask intelligent questions when we interview them, and many of those questions will come from what they’ve put on their resume or in their cover letter that we’ll ask them to expound on or clarify.

I still am a believer in cover letters. I think that spelling and grammar matters. If someone can’t put their best foot forward in a cover letter when applying for a job, then how can I trust that they’ll be able to put together an articulate email to a customer?

We also check out the recommendations on LinkedIn. I have thousands of connections on LinkedIn, so sooner or later there’s a connection on LinkedIn that is in common with someone applying for a job.

Robin: Since your clients are also marketers, what do you suggest they measure to illustrate their value to their team and their company?

Patterson: Unfortunately, many marketers are not very good at setting performance targets for their work that are meaningful to the business. I don’t want to know that you got the webinar done or that you sent out “x” number of invites. I want to know that we’ve got the right people coming and how many of the right people. How do they match up to the kinds of people we like doing business with?

3 Tips for Writing Winning Job Ads to Attract the Candidates You Want

Feeling frustrated with HR because they’re providing inadequate candidates to fill the open positions within your marketing team? Sparking the interest of the best and brightest job candidates to help your company succeed requires the right techniques. Remember, first impressions are crucial, and the first time potential employees “meet” you and your company is through your job ads.

Feeling frustrated with HR because they’re providing inadequate candidates to fill the open positions within your marketing team? Stop spinning your wheels and start collaborating with one another to find your ideal hire. Working together, you’ll be able to clearly understand, define and communicate the skills and experience necessary to perform the job.

Sparking the interest of the best and brightest job candidates to help your company succeed requires the right techniques. Remember, first impressions are crucial, and the first time potential employees “meet” you and your company is through your job ads.

Here are three ways you can win over the perfect job recruits for your business:

1. Accurately Brand Your Company

Effectively branding your company is probably one of the most important aspects of any size business. Be passionate about your company and convey that in your ad. Remember, you can’t be all things to all people, but make it really clear what makes your business great. It’s not by mistake that some of the most renowned, successful companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are masters at hitting all the right notes in their job ads to generate a lot of positive response — and they hire and retain some of the most brilliant talent in any industry.

“Everyone at Google is sharp and inspired to build great things.”
Review on Glassdoor.com from a current Google Interactive Designer

Google Job Ad
Google job ad for a “Communications and Change Project Manager.”

In this vibrant and colorful ad for a Communications and Change Project Manager, Google uses a very welcoming and friendly tone. The company culture is clearly described, along with the concise job description and responsibilities, and opportunities and contributions this position will make to benefit Google.

On the flipside, there are some companies and firms that go beyond a playful ad and try to be funny. Remember, not all jokes are funny to everyone. Take this ad that was placed by an architectural firm. Do you find it compelling enough to want to work here? My guess is no. Their “clever” branding techniques seem inappropriate and demeaning to me, but maybe there are recent architect grads out there dying to be a Minion.

Ergo Architecture job ad for a "Minion."
Ergo Architecture job ad for a “Minion.”

2. Use the Right Advertising Channels to Get the Right Candidates

Mixing things up is essential when you’re considering which channels to use to attract the job candidates you want. There’s no single “right” channel to use anymore. More and more businesses are turning to the Internet and social networks to recruit the right employees.

Working With Recruiters: What You Need to Know

Most job seekers I meet lament how they haven’t had much luck working with recruiters. As a job seeker, don’t you wish you knew the best way to work with a recruiter? I recently spoke to two recruiters who specialize in marketing roles …

Most job seekers I meet often lament about how they haven’t had much luck working with a recruiter. As a job seeker, don’t you wish you knew the best way to work with a recruiter?

Recruiters get paid by their clients, the employer, so their attention isn’t proactively looking for a job on the candidates behalf. It’s their job to fill an open position for their client.

Lynn Hazan, President of Lynn Hazan & Associates Inc.
Lynn Hazan, President of Lynn Hazan & Associates Inc.

I recently spoke to two recruiters who specialize in marketing roles — Lynn Hazan, president of Lynn Hazan & Associates Inc., and Maricel Quianzon, business development manager for Paladin. Lynn has been an executive recruiter for her entire career, and has been leading her agency for the past 16 years. (For full disclosure, I am both a past candidate and client of Lynn Hazan.) Maricel began her career as a creative and moved into recruiting about 10 years ago. Since, she’s been in her clients’ shoes, she has an empathetic approach to recruiting.

Maricel Quiazon, Business Development Manager for Paladin
Maricel Quianzon, Business Development Manager for Paladin

The transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: What types of qualities do you look for in candidates?

Lynn Hazan: They need to have passion, energy, creativity, a smart can-do attitude, the ability to empower others, curiosity, be deadline oriented and committed to continuous learning. I need to see a spark and how they can fit the company’s culture.

Maricel Quianzon: Most importantly, I am very interested in who is passionate and has a keen interest in what they do. The more focused a candidate is with their search, the more attractive they are. Many things actually go into it, the cultural fit and emphasis on certain skill sets. Lately, it’s heavy emphasis on digital, marketing automation and customer acquisition.

Q: Where do you like to find candidates?

LH: Everywhere. Literally, planes, trains and automobiles. I think every opportunity is a good opportunity to connect with good candidates. I also find candidates through professional associations and LinkedIn, primarily.

I am a relationship builder though, so many clients find me through my website, public speaking and articles. It’s common for candidates to introduce themselves to me after I speak. Recruiting is really a relationship building business. I like to know candidates as they grow through their careers. I track their progress over time.

I tell both my clients and candidates, I don’t hire resumes, I hire people.

MQ: I’ve been doing this for 10 years. The best candidates come from referrals from talented marketers. People that we have placed in the past often refer their friends and colleagues. I make time to talk to them right away because it is always great to know who you have in the candidate pool.

For the “purple squirrel” (very specific and unique set of requirements) jobs I do go to the job boards to source candidates.

It really boils down to networking. I always have my ears open to find out what people do for a living. When I meet someone, I always start trying to match them in my head.

Q: What is the most important thing you consider in assessing a candidate?

LH: Fit! I get a lots and lots of candidates applying for potential jobs, so the first thing I do is see how close a fit are you to my current clients’ needs and jobs. Then I can see potential fit for other jobs. I have an analogy I like to use involving ducks. In fact, if you come to my office you’ll see all my ducks. If you look like, walk like, talk like and sound like a duck, and my client is looking for a duck, the more duck-like you are the better chance you’ll have of being hired.