Today’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: 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?