The 3 Critical Things I Look For When Hiring in Marketing

Over the years I’ve hired and fired a number of people high enough to allow me to make conclusions about the types of people I find most impactful to my team. Anecdotal evidence from 20+ years of trial and error, lets say!

And actually having hired developers, designers, writers and an assortment of other digital media professionals this is actually quite transferable to those other professions, as well as Marketing.

Interestingly none of the 3 things I’m looking for have almost anything to do with your work history or schooling.

1- Side Hustle is King

I’m far more interested in the experience a future team member has had with their side hustle than I am with their agency experience. It’s all well and good working at marketing 9–5, but someone who lives it by choosing to spend down time hustling is probably someone I want on my team.

The work ethic is there and also there’s no experience like getting your hands dirty and when you are building something in a side hustle you have to touch every part of the machine, which gives you a much deeper understanding of the one part you may be expected to excel at in a team.

For example sales funnels. In order to build a performing sales funnel you need to have at the very least dipped your toe in the MARTECH required to build the funnel, email marketing/automation of some sort, community, social media, analytics to monitor growth and so on.

To quote Jordan Peterson — “Experience is the best teacher, and the worst experiences teach the best lessons.”

Building and tweaking a sales funnel to become a high performing sales asset for your side hustle (for example) is a difficult thing to achieve. It requires tenacity and a willingness to run towards things that are both difficult and unknown.

2 — Attitude over Experience

Ten times out of ten I’ll chose someone who has the right attitude but will need some training on a particular piece of software, than someone who has tonnes of experience with lets say Hubspot or Google Analytics.

Tools can be learned, quickly in most cases. Attitude is something different.

What do I mean when I say Attitude?

It goes beyond work ethic. It’s about being Solution Oriented instead of being problem focused. It’s about having enough respect for everyone else’s time that you don’t waste it asking questions you can figure out yourself.

It’s about taking responsibility instead of making excuses or blaming anyone else. Its about going the extra mile when no one expects you to. It’s about contributing net positivity and bringing energy, rather than negativity and toxicity.

Will everyone else on the team be more productive and motivated, and likely to stay in their role for longer because you are on the team? Or is the opposite?

3- What was the last book or article you read?

If the last time you read something with the goal of “learning” was a text book in college then you are not going to be a good fit on my team.

In my experience people who view learning and personal growth, as a life long pursuit, make better team members. It doesn’t matter whether that’s through a 3rd level institution, or by buying online courses and reading books from industry experts.

Digital marketing, whether web2 or web3 is a very fast moving and rapidly evolving space. Platforms, technologies, strategies and even channels can dramatically gain or shed efficacy over time and if you aren’t keeping up and expanding your knowledge and seeding future greatness then you are ngmi long term to borrow a crypto twitter term.

And that’s just the subject matter stuff. Developing knowledge in other areas, or even stoking the fire of your creativity by reading fiction.

Bonus: Major Red Flag

I suspect this one is not universal but it’s a massive red flag for me now and it’s a question I ask myself about every candidate I interview:

Is this person telling me what I want to hear, or the truth framed in a positive way?

Honesty is the only policy in my opinion. If you need to lie to get a job, then you are probably not going to keep it for very long.

Of course these are just the most important things I look for based on interviewing >100 people over the years. Different companies have different policies in relation to what they need to see but foundationally speaking if you have these things ironed out you will be a great addition to any team and would be welcome on one of mine!

If you read this and felt I was describing you, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn. I’d love to have you in my network and would be happy to pass on job opportunities when they inevitably reveal themselves.

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Neil Sisson

Entrepreneur, CMO, recovering digital nomad. Crypto thinker. Coffee drinker. I build sales funnels for fun! http://neilsisson.com