Building a creative marketing team is hard work, and with today’s competitive job market, hiring marketers can be daunting.

But no matter what type of job market we’re in, one thing remains the same: The success of a team is largely determined by who’s on it. “A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players,” explains Jeff Perkins, CMO of ParkMobile.

Jeff joined us recently for Managing Editor Live! and shared the strategies he uses to hire marketers — and also told us a few of the pitfalls he has learned to avoid.

If you would like to hear more from Jeff, watch the full session here.

Know What You’re Looking For

The world of marketing is getting complicated. You can hire someone who has specialized knowledge in branding, content strategy, messaging, marketing automation technology, thought leadership writing — it goes on. But the diversity of skills and marketing disciplines requires that you know exactly what you’re looking for before you set out to hire someone.

Jeff recommends asking yourself two simple questions before you even write a job description:

  • What is the biggest problem you need to solve?
  • What are the skills and capabilities this new employee needs?

It’s a simple exercise that will help focus your thinking and make sure that you will attract qualified candidates who fit your organization’s needs:

“You don’t want to be in a position where you’re just shooting, and you’re not hitting the bulls-eye at all.”

Be a Stalker

Do we have your attention with that header?

It’s actually great advice — as long as you’re not being creepy. What Jeff is recommending is to not just to sit and wait for the candidates to come to you. “Be out there and find people,” he says.

Jeff recommends using tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to look for candidates you might want to hire. While your browsing will take some time, he believes the results will be worth it. “I found that being proactive and really hunting on your own, you’ll come up with much higher quality candidates” than just waiting to see who applies, he says.

However, Jeff doesn’t limit his “stalking” to hiring periods. He also searches for interesting candidates for potential future positions and takes the time to meet them. That way, he has a pipeline of people who’s targeting when it is time to make a hire:

“The best time to look for candidates is when you don’t have an open position.”

Don’t Hire a Generalist for a Specialist Role

Jeff believes that too many marketers fall for candidates who are not quite as qualified for a position as they should be. They believe a candidate may be able to learn on the job, but this may just be wishful thinking. “If you need to find someone who’s really good in marketing automation, and you hire a marketing generalist, it’s going to take them a long time to get ramped up,” Jeff explains.

In these situations, hiring a specialist is always the best course of action — “but hire a specialist with stretch,” Jeff says. “You want to get candidates who aren’t just going to be social media managers their entire career.”

Figuring out someone’s ability to stretch is not exactly a science, but there are a few things you can do. During your conversations with a candidate, gauge their enthusiasm for marketing. “Are they a marketing geek?” Jeff asks.

Also, look at your candidate’s history. Revenue generation, of course, is a great marker, but also look for a candidate’s ability to learn new skills. A sure sign of a quality stretch candidate is the completion of certification courses, showing that they have the energy and desire to invest in themselves and their careers.

“The last thing you want to do is put a square peg in a round hole.”

Watch Jeff’s entire session about hiring modern marketers and browse the rest of our recorded sessions on managing a modern marketing team.