HR 23 October 2017

The six traits your next digital marketing hire needs to have

Your new digital marketing hire should care about their profession, and have a clear idea about where it’s going
Your new digital marketing hire should care about their profession, and have a clear idea about where it’s going

Writing for Business Advice, Emma Rosenberg, global talent director at marketing consultancy Celerity, reveals the most important characteristics you should look for when recruiting your next digital marketing hire.

If you’re looking to hire for a digital marketing role, you’ve got strong competition. It’s an important position to fill for many businesses.

Appealing to customers through digital channels isn’t just a component of your marketing strategy – in many respects, it is your marketing strategy. Having the right people in place to drive this strategy will be the difference between success and failure.

But digital marketing is in a curious place: it is at once oversubscribed with applicants and rife with skills shortages. There are plenty of willing candidates, but few will have the necessary competencies to truly succeed in the role. Distinguishing between qualified and unqualified candidates in this area is harder than ever for a hiring manager.

So how do you identify the best digital marketing candidates? Here are six key traits to look out for.

  1. Digital competence

This is both an obvious and yet very overlooked trait. Prospective hires should have a strong understanding of how the digital space works and show evidence that they’re using it to their advantage.

So, while you’ll already know how to Google any potential hires and look for inflammatory social media content that might spell trouble later on down the line, it’s also worth looking for evidence that they’re actively engaging with their chosen community.

They should have a presence on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – amongst others – and they should also demonstrate superior knowledge of these platforms and how they work. A good LinkedIn profile, in particular, demonstrates that your candidate knows how to use social media to market themselves.

Your hire should also be sharing examples of digital marketing activity that held their interest and provoke a debate. They should be engaging with influencers and curating a feed that shows sincere professional curiosity, and untapped professional skill.

Prioritise those candidates who cultivate a positive digital presence and you’ll immediately have a far better pool of potential hires.

  1. Data savvy

Businesses are accumulating more data about their customers than ever before. This data is laying the foundation for intelligent, sophisticated, highly personalised campaigns. Or, rather, it can lay these foundations. Because it’s very easy to collect and use data inefficiently and improperly – and digital marketing only succeeds when it’s used correctly.

Candidates need to demonstrate solid understanding of the different ways in which customer information can be harnessed as part of a digital marketing strategy.

They don’t need to be technical experts, but they should have great enthusiasm about predictive analytics, segmentation and profiling, and other critical tactics, and be willing to learn more about them as they become increasingly important to the discipline.

Our guide to hiring your first member of staff is essential reading for first-time hirers:

  1. Commercial creativity

There is a popular stereotype of the modern marketer as obsessed with metrics.  While this does have a semblance of truth to it, it misses one simple fact. Marketing isn’t just about numbers: you also need a significant level of commercial acumen and creativity to be a real success in this job.

So, when you’re recruiting a digital marketer, you need someone with a solid grasp of data, an understanding of your clients, and the ability to manage a budget. But these attributes should be of equal importance to the greater goal of creating killer ideas and turning them into profitable campaigns.

This fine balance isn’t something every candidate has, and those who do have it, should be placed at the top of the pile.

  1. Communication and networking

Marketers must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with clients, co-workers, and other stakeholders. This might seem obvious: in a very real sense, marketing is the business of communication.

However, beyond being able to draft a press release, write a blog, or tweet enthusiastic words about the client, digital marketers must be able to truly connect with other people.

Developing a relationship with a journalist can lead to exciting opportunities to raise your company’s profile in relevant press.

Striking up a rapport with other marketers at conferences means you benefit from shared industry knowledge. Connecting with other agencies at awards ceremonies promotes a positive image of your employee – and, by association, your business.

Don’t hire anyone who expects it to be a nine-to-five job with no social element. Attending events and making key connections is a significant part of the job, and one any prospective hire will need to master.

  1. Flexibility

Any marketing candidate you hire should be adaptable to changing circumstances.

Why? Because marketing is a constantly changing industry. Today’s high-tech tool is tomorrow’s hoary, outdated relic. Best practice becomes antiquated in an instant.

The ability to keep your finger on the pulse, anticipate new trends and subsequently seize upon them, is an essential skill.

If your new marketer isn’t flexible or adaptable enough, your long-term strategy will ultimately suffer.

  1. Passion

Finally, make sure whoever you hire has genuine enthusiasm for the industry and the role. Competence is great, but passion is even better.

Your new digital marketing hire should care about their profession, and have a clear idea about where it’s going: they should know how content promotion, SEO, video, PPC, and PR work as individual disciplines, and as constituent elements of the bigger marketing mix.

They should keep on top of new technologies, new adverts, new campaigns – and show an intimate knowledge of their messaging and design. Look for someone with boundless curiosity about their field.

They won’t always be easy to find, of course. But candidates with the above six traits are out there. They’re harder to identify, and the selection, screening, and interview processes won’t always reveal them immediately.

However long it takes, though, one truth remains: poor hires are expensive mistakes, and great candidates are worth waiting for.

Emma Rosenberg is global talent director at digital marketing agency Celerity

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