Like many B2B organizations prospering from this strong business cycle, my team at Integrate is adding marketing talent to meet current and future growth needs. We’ve defined the roles and evolved the organizational structure and are working with our in-house recruiter to hire a handful of new positions in communications, programs and partner marketing.
During this search process, I’ve learned a lot. It’s clear, as an industry we’ve failed to adequately develop the marketing talent pool. I’ve found it is largely lacking people with the diverse range of skills companies need to keep up with requirements.
Marketing talent is more important and in demand than ever. Differentiated capabilities such as those required between media-minded digital strategists, tech-savvy marketing operational pros and editorial-heavy content marketers are an absolute must today.
It’s understandable. The pace of change, the speed of business and rising customer and market expectations are forcing us to find, interview and evaluate a shrinking pool of candidates that are not only scarce, but also may not have deep domain experience.
Finding people with “five years of account-based marketing” or “proven experience leading digital transformation” is as rare as a white peacock (look them up, they are fascinating creatures!)
The accidental marketer
We’re also living in a time of the “accidental marketer.” Many of today’s marketing pros didn’t go to school for marketing and have little formal training. The reality is most marketers are learning in real time, on the job.
It’s clear the industry has both a talent gap and a talent shortage. And it’s time to challenge how we think about finding, developing and securing talent. Here are a few strategies marketing leaders can use to more effectively identify and develop talent that will help their marketing organization be invaluable to the business.
Look for athletes with attitude, aptitude and altitude
It would be optimal to hire pros who “have seen the movie before,” and are able to jump right in. Investors often talk about grabbing employees who have already “learned on somebody else’s balance sheet.” That’s ideal, but not always possible with in-demand professions and B2B marketers are in high demand.
In today’s marketing reality, the perfect talent may not be available, especially if you’re geographically or budget-constrained. We should look for agile, quick learners who may not be a master at their craft, yet. It’s more important for them to have foundational abilities (aptitude) and high-potential (altitude) to break through to make a significant impact, with the right coaching.
In sports, this is an effective strategy to build a winning organization. Instead of trying to assemble a team of superstars, teams can accomplish just as much (if not more) by finding, training and leveraging several “can do” pros. Adjusting your hiring formula to “aptitude + altitude + attitude” can take your organization a long way.
Always be recruiting
It would be wonderful if we were always ready to hire our dream marketing pros at the same time they’re ready to make a change. That rarely happens, though, so it’s imperative to court and develop relationships with coveted talent before your position is officially open or budgeted.
If needed, think about making room for talented pros even if you’re not quite ready. Make trade-offs and hold off on other positions if your business needs specific skills and capabilities.
CEOs and CFOs often embrace this approach. However, it requires us to commit a percentage of our time to recruiting and that’s a big commitment. This sets up another practice we can put into play.
Always be networking
I can’t tell you how many other CMOs and marketing pros only reach out when they’re looking for a new gig. We need to constantly build and work our network. Our focus should be on identifying marketing pros that may not have a high profile in the market (the ones speaking at conferences, posting on social media, etc.), but have mad skills and doing breakthrough work. They are the hidden gems.
Go to industry conferences, local user groups and marketing events where varying levels of talent participate. Be on a mission to find the best and brightest. It’s important to meet up and understand their aspirations, current state and how they see the marketing world. Immediately connect on LinkedIn and keep up a dialog by sharing and commenting on their posts or retweeting their material. Be proactive and aggressively scout for talent.
Have trusted recruiters on speed dial
Just like networking, many marketing leaders don’t look for a recruiter until there is a new job opening. It’s important to have a few recruiters you trust, who know you, your organization and business. You will expedite the hiring process and save valuable time with this approach. With the pace of business and the big numbers today’s marketing organizations carry, it’s essential we have resources readily available.
Give your current team a reason to stay
Another smart strategy is to make sure your best team members have room to grow, are given the right resources, and are challenged in their role within your organization. This may sound obvious, but we all get lazy and lacks. The result? We burn time and resources replacing talent.
Investing in current employee development is key to this strategy.
A few examples are:
- Organize and have them lead internal marketing “boot camps” to share their knowledge with the team.
- Sit down and map out valuable conferences and leadership classes they can participate in to advance their knowledge and skillset.
- Give them high-profile projects to own and drive across the team and the business.
Our top talent needs room to run, stretch and grow professionally. If we can provide that, the odds are in our favor they’ll continue to contribute to the organization.
It’s never been a better time to be a marketer or a marketing leader. If we want to build a competitive, top-notch marketing organization, we must be assertive leaders who are always developing and scouting for the best talent while creating an environment where marketing professionals can thrive.