Whether your marketing department is growing or you’re planning for turnover, there’s a good chance you’ll be hiring for one or more marketing roles this year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.5 million people, or about 3% of the U.S. workforce, quit their jobs in November 2021 as part of the Great Resignation. Just as employees are reassessing their job choice, organizations can reassess their needs and hire for the best value rather than simply filling a vacant position.
When hiring for a leadership position, specifically, consider the current state of the marketing department to plan for what leadership skills are most needed.
Leaders hold ultimate responsibility for their team’s success as well as their own, so getting this hire right is vital to the health of the organization. Consider what skills and experience the right leader would bring for where the organization is right now. Does your new leader need to build the ship, right the ship, or stay the course?
Build the ship
Are you embarking on a digital transformation strategy or building a brand-new team? If so, you’ll want to find a leader with the ability to create, communicate, and execute a vision. While this person should be able to define a clear plan, they’ll also need to adjust course when impacted by internal and external forces and then redirect back to the plan.
Special skills needed from this leader include the ability to evangelize the plan while building it and gain buy-in from executive leadership, other department leaders, and the marketing team—if one currently exists.
If the marketing team doesn’t yet exist, the leader will be creating and evangelizing the plan while hiring team members and managing campaign execution.
You’ll be asking a lot of this new leader. If ever a time to stretch your budget to find the right candidate, this is it. Prioritize hiring someone who has experience developing marketing strategies over having industry experience. I might even prefer someone without industry experience to ensure a truly fresh perspective with new ideas introduced from outside industries.
To build the ship, keep these candidate keywords in mind: visionary, flexible, and accountable.
Right the ship
Sometimes you need a fresh start. If your last marketing leader was unsuccessful, it’s doubtful this is wholly attributable to their abilities. Other factors such as internal relationships and strategic uncertainty across the organization likely played a role.
One of the first actions of a new leader will be to triage the department, assessing which projects and strategies to support, revive, or eliminate. Strong intuition will be key to this assessment. A focus on relationship building will be paramount and many—both within the department and cross-functionally—may need repair. A successful leader coming into this role will have a high degree of emotional intelligence with an ability to build trust.
Of the three hiring scenarios, this is the best option to hire for industry experience allowing the new leader to focus on fixing broken relationships and failed strategies without needing an industry crash course.
To right the ship, keep these candidate keywords in mind: Emotional Intelligence, intuitive, and collaborative.
Stay the course
If your marketing department runs like a well-oiled machine, congratulations, you’re doing better than most! However, that can also lead to concern when a department leader leaves. Will you be forced into a slump while a new leader gets up to speed, or worse yet, will the new leader reverse the trajectory of success?
Your new leader should be someone with a keen eye for optimizing opportunities and who can quickly assess the situation to determine which areas to leave as is and where to focus efforts on improving results or introducing new initiatives. Leaders who follow a servant-leader philosophy (leaders who focus on uplifting workers around them) will be most successful in this role as they’re more likely to listen and empower employees in order to develop individuals and the team.
In today’s tight job market, it can be a lengthy process to hire for any role and senior leadership positions typically take longest to fill. However, hiring for a role in this situation shouldn’t be rushed considering there will be (perhaps unfair) comparisons to the previous leader. Take your time to find the right fit in both experience and alignment with the company culture.
As a well-run department, the remaining team members should be able to keep things running smoothly during the executive search. This is also the best scenario to promote from within if there is a worthy candidate since they will have learned from the previously successful leader. If you are set on hiring an external candidate, be sure to communicate this to the team to avoid giving a sense of false hope to anyone leading the charge in the interim.
To stay the course, keep these candidate keywords in mind: Optimization, servant-leader, and results-driven.
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