Did you know that January to March is the busiest season of the year for recruiting?

That means one thing:

If you are looking to recruit a top marketer by March 31, you will be competing with many other companies.

If you’re like most of the people I’ve worked with, you want:

  • To recruit a really GOOD marketer. (Quality)
  • To get that person FAST. (Quickness)
  • To have a CHOICE. (Quantity)

How ready are you to do this? The right recruiter can help, but you play a role too.

In several years of executive recruiting, I’ve noticed nine things that my most successful clients do to hire great marketing leaders quickly. Take a look. How do you stack up to the pros?


1. They do their homework.
Some of the best searches I’ve done have started with an exploratory phase. Before going out and pitching a job, we conduct market research by approaching 5-10 people who represent the target talent market. Our goal is to solicit input and understand what the target market would find compelling in a role. If we are not sure whether the best fit would be say, someone with a product marketing background versus a brand background versus a demand gen background, we can often figure that out through research, before starting the search. This way, we still build relationships with interesting prospects, in a non-sales-y manner, while giving those prospects a chance to shape the role.

2. They’ve learned that interviews are not predictive, so they take a deeper look.
Sure, interviews are good for feeling more familiar with a candidate. But the real evaluation comes when the candidate brings in work for a ‘show and tell.’ Or when the candidate shares a plan for the first 90 days in the role. Or shares a presentation on how they would pitch the company. Or proposes a strategy for how to tackle its personalization challenges.

Increasingly, companies use skills or psychological testing both with current employees and prospective new hires, to validate fit.

They may offer ways for candidates to test drive the job beyond just sitting in an interview room – for instance, with a paid trial.

3. They realize that Performance = Skill X Motivation.
Let’s say there’s a CMO candidate named Sally. Sally has several years of experience leading marketing for financial services. It would be easy to assume that Sally will do an ace job as the CMO of a financial services firm. However, what if Sally is bored to tears with financial services, yet is very excited about alternative energy? Recruiting outcomes are a function of someone’s will to do a job, together with their skill. The best hiring managers ask candidates, “What do you love to do? What do you want to do more of?” And they pay close attention to see what makes candidates light up with excitement.


4. They’ve learned the hard way that “I’ll know it when I see it” sounds good, but is a time-suck.
Yes, it’s nice that YOU will know it when you see it. But recruiting is not just about you. The recruiter also needs to know it when she sees it. So does each person on the hiring team. Make sure you define and communicate what “good” looks like and how “good” or “great” is different from “average.” The best hiring managers take time to articulate the real needs for the role, their decision-making criteria, and the tradeoffs they are willing to make. That way, they zero in faster on the right candidates.

5. They take recruiting seriously, and their calendars reflect that.
They meet regularly with their recruiting partners to understand the market, ensure progress, and resolve tradeoffs. They’ll take a flyer and meet with a juicy candidate, even though they may not have the right role for that candidate immediately. They prepare before meeting a candidate, so they are not scanning a resumes as they walk into an interview.

6. They know that time kills deals.
The most successful hiring managers have been known to meet with candidates early in the morning, late in the evening, and on weekends, to move the process along faster and be more candidate-friendly.


7. They know that to capture more talent at the top of the funnel, they can’t write a job description like an entitled 10-year-old’s Christmas wish list.
Too many job specs are written like a shopping list – and a very specific one at that. Really, do candidates need to have 10 years of experience with, say, content marketing? First, content marketing didn’t exist as such 10 years ago. Plus, they could have 10 years of doing something in an uninspired – or unsuccessful — way, as opposed to three years of doing it in a very successful way.

The best hiring executives realize that the best job descriptions make the right people’s ambitions soar. A well-crafted job spec show what’s most exciting about the company and the role, and how the new hire will grow and learn in the job. The description shows the results that the hiring executive is looking for, not a laundry list of things that really don’t matter.

8. They orchestrate and measure the CANDIDATE experience with as much attention as they devote to the ideal CUSTOMER experience, and retain more candidates as a result.
They ask candidates to critique the recruiting process, in the spirit of continuous improvement and innovation. They keep an eagle eye on Glassdoor reviews.

They realize that every recruiting touchpoint matters– from the initial outreach to the job spec to the moment when the candidate walks in for an interview to the moment they receive a job offer – or a call letting them down. Every touchpoint is an impression of the company, just like every sales or marketing touchpoint reflects the company. The best hiring managers collaborate with their recruiters to make those touchpoints personal, memorable, and differentiated.

9. Their materials and process work together to attract a diversity of candidates, not just the usual suspects.
The best hiring managers assemble hiring teams — and processes — with an eye to diversity. They look for ways to be welcoming to people of a variety of backgrounds. For more specific tips on how to increase gender diversity in particular, check out this piece I published on how to attract more women when doing executive searches.