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The Top 4 Challenges in Hiring Marketers

The Betts Team
August 7, 2019

Many people think engineering is the hardest role to hire for. But we would argue that hiring marketers is even harder. With engineering, you can at least give candidates a coding test or review samples to adequately gauge their competence and level of expertise. It’s harder to do that when you’re looking for a Content Marketer, Product Marketing Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, VP of Marketing, or Chief Marketing Officer (i.e. CMO).


In this post, we’re going to outline four of the biggest challenges in hiring top marketers today along with ways to address them.


Pro tip: For a comprehensive breakdown of numerous major marketing roles, check out our marketing overview page.

1. Using outdated or poorly thought-out hiring processes

Marketing best practices are changing all the time. Between new technology, processes, social media platforms, and buying trends, it can be a lot to keep up with. It doesn’t help when you use an old job ad template for your new digital marketing manager, or include “ten years’ experience with Instagram marketing” among your requirements. 


Instagram didn’t even exist ten years ago, so your chances of finding someone who meets that criteria are zero.  By using outdated processes and templates, you’re signaling to potential candidates that you either use a template that is badly outdated or that you’re completely clueless about social media marketing. Neither one is a great look.


One way to avoid this is to get clear about your marketing needs and then write a new job ad specifically catering to each role. You’ll also get better candidates applying – if they can see that put a lot of time and thought into the position, they’ll do the same in their application.

2. From digital marketing, to leadership, and beyond – talent shortages abound

In today’s hot job market, most of the best marketers are either already employed or running their own business. This means you as the employer need to do more if you want to attract the top candidates or be willing to invest the time and energy to train an up-and-comer. 


Talent shortages are particularly common with senior-level positions such as director, VP, and CMO level roles.  


For example, if you want to find a VP of Marketing with extensive experience working in content marketing or demand gen, you’re going to need to use your sales and persuasion skills to convince the best candidates why they should quit their job and work for you.

3. Focusing too much on resumes, higher education, and credentials

Hiring candidates based on resumes and where they went to college works well if you’re hiring lawyers and accountants, but becomes very problematic when hiring marketers. 


College is great at teaching theories and some of the first principles of great marketing.  However, as we alluded to already, marketing technology and consumer trends are changing faster than ever before. The practical advice and experiences that marketing professors teach tend to be what worked 5-10 years ago.  

For example, if you’re looking for a Content Marketing Manager, a lot of the strategies and tactics that worked in 2013-2014 don’t work today.  

You can find better candidates by focusing on marketers who are actively working on improving their skills, just like this marketer at Baremetrics. The best marketers tend to have a side hustle, passion project, or blog where they can test out new ideas.

4. Interviewing marketers can be tricky

In general, marketers – and salespeople, for that matter – are good self-promoters. This can be problematic if the marketer is better at interviewing and talking about marketing then actually doing the work. 


This most often comes up when a company gets excited about the potential to poach someone from a big name company or a hot startup, and they don’t do their due diligence to find out what the person actually did there. For example, a marketer may use a lot of buzzwords and mention that they increased inbound leads by 1000% over their tenure. At face value, this sounds impressive. However, you need to dig in to find out the time period, what they specifically contributed compared to others on their team, and other important contextual elements. Context is everything.


In cases like these, having the right follow-up questions ready is essential. You can also have the candidate present a sample campaign to demonstrate their understanding of crucial marketing concept like lead generation, nurturing, and SEO. These are great ways to be able to see if a candidate can actually do the job. 


In sum, the best ways to find great content marketers, digital marketers, and marketing leaders and overcome these challenges is to get clear on what you need, invest time in writing a great job description that sells the role, and then do your due diligence in the screening process. The old adage of “hire slow, fire faster” is a great rule of thumb when hiring product, digital, or content marketers. Keep that in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to building out a lead-generating marketing engine that works.