Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: Can You Avoid Making a Bad Hire?

Can You Avoid Making a Bad Hire?

There’s no doubt about it. It’s a buyer’s market for marketing talent. Meeting 80% of requirements is no longer good enough. Hiring managers are holding out for candidates that meet 100% and have a track record to boot.

Yet, hiring a marketing leader who can do all that they say they can is still a gamble. You can only tell so much from a series of one hour interviews. I’ve seem many “consensus” decisions turn out badly.

The resume is a personal brochure. Marketers, being the wordsmiths that they are, ought to be able to create resumes that sell. But, how do you know that the results they achieve were actually achieved through their efforts? Or, what if they were a fluke?

Reference calls are necessary, but who gives a reference that’s going to give them a bad review? You can go to HR, but they are trained to only verify that the candidate worked there at the time and in the role specified. No real help there.

Some have tried to get a better feel for their marketing candidates by asking for a presentation. I think this approach ought to be used more often, especially since most marketing roles require top-notch presentation skills. Still, you shouldn’t expect much from the presentation itself as the candidates, despite hours of research, will only have seen your good points. They won’t know your challenges until they get a good peek under the covers.

Here’s a novel idea presented by the master of all novel ideas – Seth Godin.

Seth suggests that you work with someone for several months before actually giving them a job. His downside is that you lose the bragging rights of the “great find.” On the other hand, I think you lose the embarrassment of talking up a new hire only to have them fall flat or be mediocre at best.

I agree that your pool of candidates would be smaller since not everyone would be comfortable with the arrangement. However, I don’t agree that you will be limited to people like freelancers and interns. I think there are many marketers looking for opportunities right now that would consider a contract opportunity. To me, the potential downside is that they turn out to be a great hire but you lose them to someone else before you have a chance to make the offer.

Here’s a few more ideas for how to make this work:

Pay the candidate for their time or by the project. This is not the same thing as an internship where someone is looking for experience. You should expect real value from these people.

Be clear on the deliverables. For example, if you are looking to hire a marketing executive, you might ask them to review your programs, processes and people and create recommendations for how your marketing can be improved. If you need a social media expert, you might ask them to put together a workshop on how companies are using social media to drive opportunities. A webmaster could be paid to make recommendations for how to improve your website performance.

By making these paid engagements, you are paying the candidate to dig into your unique situation and propose opportunities applicable to your organization and your goals. Even if you decide not to hire the candidate, you will learn something from their recommendations.

Put it in writing. Put the deliverable and your payment terms in writing. You don’t want to find yourself paying for a candidate’s time only for them to lose interest or take another position before they deliver the final report.

Give them enough time. This will vary by role. A Marketing Executive might need a couple months to do a thorough assessment. A Product Marketer might only need a couple of weeks to review your messaging, collateral and sales tools.

Remember that you are paying for the deliverable and not their time. If the candidate needs to perform the work on site, remember that they are still a contractor. You shouldn’t expect to hold them to the same sort of work schedule that you might a full time employee. Many of these candidates will want to continue their search.

Give them access. Don’t limit their access only to those on the “interview circle.” Give them access to the people they would need to collaborate with if they had the job. This way you’ll get a 360-degree view on their fit in the organization.

Consider remote candidates. No one wants to go to the extra expense of relocating a candidate unless they are absolutely sure they can perform spectacularly. This option can allow you to consider some candidates that you might not have considered had you needed to relocate them first. For example, if you pay a potential marketing executive to perform an assessment of your programs, processes and people, much of this work can be done remotely.

What do you think? If you are a hiring manager, does this sound like a strategy that would work? Have you tried it? If you are a job-seeker, would you be willing to take a role on a trial basis?

All the best!

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

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