One of the biggest problems marketing directors face today is staffing their teams in a highly competitive job market. In a six billion dollar industry, why can’t we recruit revenue marketing professionals?
I caught up with Bill Anderson, our senior consultant and solutions architect, to talk about this problem. Here are a few tips to help you spot top talent for your demand generation marketing team.
Q: Why are there so few marketing ops practitioners on the market today?
A: These are relatively new disciplines, under decade old, really. Seasoned Marketo specialists are snapped up quickly, and you can’t get exposure to the platform unless you work in a company that has Marketo installed.
Q: So where do you find talent?
A: For content and analytics, marketing schools are great. For email marketing and landing pages, art schools are where I look. The tough part is finding people who know how to produce, not just consume tech. You want someone with a great aesthetic sense building assets, and there are always a few art students who love to both design and code.
Q: You say it’s hard to find work-ready designers coming out of school, why?
A: Until around 20 years ago, everything was print-based. Many schools still teach print-based design and marketing because that’s what professors know. Some schools are doing web design, but it’s Dreamweaver and stuff. Kids hate it. So the students coming out of art school often don’t know where to start. They whiplash between making great Insta posts and thinking they can make a static page like it’s print. Not responsive, not mobile-first, but they expect to hand off Photoshop files to…someone. That doesn’t cut it.
Q: Are schools addressing this issue of falling behind technology?
A: Some are. I’m on a panel of my local community college and every year, they ask professionals to evaluate their course plan and they actively try to get ahead of industry trends. I found their students were better prepared than a few other nearby private schools at many times the cost.
Q: So what do you look for when recruiting?
A: When I was a hiring manager, I would get around 100 resumes for every job listing. Most applicants used the same safe look and layouts. Everything becomes very bland, like visual elevator music. Same soft colors, same blah typography, same stock photos. If you can swap a software brochure with an insurance or a healthcare or a retirement community ad and they all work just fine? Then you know the applicant is dull. Ugh. I’m feeling beige just thinking about it.
Of those 100 applicants, two or three would stand out from all the rest. Sometimes, it’s the portfolio. Sometimes, it’s a beautifully typeset resume. But always, it’s the kids who took risks. You can feel the joy coming off of the page. You sense the love, the play, and you know these are cool people to be around. It’s awesome.
To me, it didn’t matter that they had no experience. I could tell they had the spark and attitude, and they would live up to any challenge thrown at them. Those, my friend, are the best people to work with.
Q: And this is more important than having a ton of experience in the industry?
A: Well, you can’t have much experience if you just graduated, can you?
I look for students who did interesting projects in school. One woman started a college Quidditch team, and then went on to create a kid’s division called Kidditch. You know someone like that will be amazing, and she was!
Or look for someone who built websites, particularly if they wrestled WordPress into doing what they wanted. If they can edit WordPress CSS, they can easily handle Marketo.
Q: Who should build the marketing campaigns in the automation platform?
A: Oftentimes designers have a systems-thinking approach and can grasp automation systems intuitively. Other times, a classic marketing student loves both the process and the numbers and can really slice and dice the campaign in ways you would never imagine.
Q: Any downsides to your approach?
A: Heck yeah! Choose your design students wisely. Many are purists and have an aversion to following detailed procedures. Some went into design because they want creativity unfettered by details. Others may not have embraced critique, and are defensive of their work.
You’re looking for students who love feedback, revel in revisions, and understand that they can be creative within constraints. They’re out there, and they are gold.
Q: Any parting thoughts?
A: I should also mention that spotting talent is less than half the battle. To excel, these new hires need a lot of guidance. A corporation is a very foreign environment with different customs and dialects spoken than a student is used to. Extensive on-boarding and professional development resources are paramount. remember what your first job was like, how clueless you were? Feed these new hires information, tell them the rules of the game, protect them, and there’s no telling what great work you’ll unleash.