It’s a rare hiring manager who doesn’t tell me that he or she wants the best and the brightest candidate for their open positions. Of course. No one wants to settle for second banana. Problem is, a traditional digital marketing position description with its shopping list of required qualifications and specific platform “must haves” can actually work against you. Case in point: A recent conversation I had with a forward thinking client who said something I usually don’t hear. “Don’t worry about a candidate checking all the checkboxes on the job description,” she explained. “That was written by HR. Instead, go find me the best athlete who wants to win the world series, and we’ll deploy them where they’ll have the biggest impact on the business.”
The idea of an MLB draft-like interviewing process is very appealing. My best candidates don’t always fit into cookie-cutter type molds. Round pegs in round holes? Hardly. Many are multi-dimensional. When you think about it, identifying good talent in digital marketing is kind of like trying to look in the window of a speeding car. Specific skills are quickly outpaced by the speed of change. Markets change, technologies emerge and strategies must quickly shift. It helps that the particular employer I just referenced administers an online test to measure cognitive ability, a key characteristic of high achievers. Many experts will tell you that learning new skills is the key to success in digital marketing and ecommerce, and believe me, I can share from my personal experience that “A” players are constantly striving to stretch themselves. Put another way, they’ll figure what to do when you don’t know what to do. You’re not going to find that on a digital marketing job description, but between the lines, believe me, it’s there. I see it all of the time as a marketing executive recruiter.
Here’s the bottom line: If you’re an employer, look for the best digital athlete and not just the best applicant who fits the requirements. A digital marketing job description that declares you “must have” this and you “must have” that will get you just that: Everything you MUST have right now. Problem is, what you must have today could be outdated in six months. Try inserting something like this:
Candidates who have a strong passion for solving problems and a hunger to learn and blaze new trails will thrive in our environment.
Now THAT sounds like a cool gig.
Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent and veteran digital marketing and ecommerce recruiters, and has been called the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 29 years.