How to get the marketing job you really want
Susi Banks polls some leading employers on what they look for when recruiting for marketing positions and discovers that they’re just as keen to find you as you are to find them.
You’re top marketing talent. (Because of course you are – you’re reading this publication.) You just need to find the right environment in which to make your mark. Luckily for you, we’ve set out to discover what’s required to reach the pinnacle of this profession we call ‘marketing’.
To do this, Marketing spoke to those who recruit for marketing positions at some leading Australian companies. Interestingly, along with invaluable insights for marketers looking for their next challenge, employers will also learn something. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best marketers don’t find jobs at leading employers; leading employers work extremely hard to attract and retain the best staff. Employer brand is paramount.
Employers interviewed for this piece most commonly cited the use of internal and external networks, LinkedIn and, to a lesser extent, social media in general, as some of the most important tools when recruiting. From asking existing employees a basic ‘who do you know?’ to investing in networking opportunities and functions, recruiting for marketing careers is a serious business.
Employers are not just looking for the right qualifications and experience – employers are looking for exceptional candidates who are passionate, talented and will be the right fit for their company’s culture.
Other qualities most of the recruiters stressed were attitude, personality, imagination, flexibility and being a team player. ‘Cultural fit’ was often referred to.
The other side of the coin is that employers consider it crucial that they have the best possible employer brand to attract these outstanding employees. Daoud Edris, head of strategic sourcing at Lion, a leading food and beverage company, says, “We take a proactive approach to managing our employer brand – being active on social media, connecting and engaging with people as much as possible, promoting sociability, embracing new technologies and monitoring our employer brand.”
Edris says the company looks for people who are driven to make a difference. “People who are agile and demonstrate a continued commitment to learning and stretching themselves. We focus on some key values: integrity, achieving together, sociability, wellbeing and passion.
“A marketing career at Lion is as exciting as it is rewarding. Our marketers are often considered the guardians of our iconic brands and the relationships we have with our consumers. From roles in innovation, brand management, new product development, campaigns and sponsorships, our careers in marketing require imagination, passion and the ability to bring our products to life,” says Edris. “Yes, it’s a big responsibility, but an extremely satisfying one.”
A few years ago, engineering and consulting company, QinetiQ was finding it difficult to attract enough candidates for a competitive interview process. But now it has people “knocking down our doors,” says head of HR, Jessica Ciccozzi. By improving employee engagement and focusing on employee benefits, flexibility in the workplace, corporate social responsibility and more targeted communications, the company rebranded and remarketed its referral program internally.
“Last year, more than 40 percent of our new recruits came from internal employee referrals,” says Ciccozzi. “We also changed what we were doing externally. We upgraded our recruitment software and invested in a new social media strategy with LinkedIn. The best thing we did was purchase LinkedIn Recruiter, working in partnership with our relationship manager and internal marketing team. We’ve seen exponential growth in not only the size of our recruitment database, but the quality of our recruitment database.
“We now have a 12-month strategy for our recruitment activity on social media,” says Ciccozzi.
Philip Turner, previously general manager of talent acquisition at Compass Group, and now TNT’s national recruitment manager, human resources, says things have changed a lot and employers demand more than ever before. “When I started as an internal recruiter 15 years ago, marketing was very much traditional media,” he says. “Back then, I’d be looking for a senior marketer with strong people skills, the operating experience, the ability to influence effectively across the organisation and someone with the long-term strategy to drive sales and the brand identity.
“Today, with the rapid advancements in technology I’d want all that plus more. They’d need to be a digital leader, as well, who can balance traditional media with online marketing, social media, e-commerce and personal media. I’d be looking for experience in how they’ve used big data analytics to understand their customers by the type of media they use. Have they worked closely with IT? It’s similar to my area of talent acquisition, where traditional methods of job searching have been phased out. As a strategy, I now target personal media technologies to increase attraction, jobseeker engagement and brand identity, enhancing the candidate experience.” Platforms such as LinkedIn know the value in their services and, as well as job ads being put in front of active and passive jobseekers, they offer special services such as LinkedIn Recruiter. In order to build up a rapid shortlist, Turner says he will use LinkedIn Recruiter, which enables corporate companies to run an executive search process. “I would run searches by role title, industry and seniority level and then build up a shortlist of profiles to review with the hiring manager. From here, we’ll agree on a shortlist and I will make contact with the selected candidates.
“With Australia leading the world with a 64% smartphone penetration in 2013, job searching on mobile devices now accounts for 50% of the market. As such, I will also have job ads feeding on to key jobseeker apps such as Seek and Indeed,” concludes Turner.
Amicus Interiors, a national company that has specialised in decorating and fitting-out offices since 1988, says finding someone who ‘fits in’ is of paramount importance. Marketing manager, Jill Hamilton, says, “This mantra is expressed across the business, from marketers to accounts. We want to attract and retain the best staff, so the company offers great benefits and a fantastic working environment. We are continually looking for ways to improve the work-life balance, so a flexible and open to change candidate is essential.”
Amicus Interiors has successfully used the software system, Expr3ss!, which includes a series of questions and requires the candidate to make a five-minute video – totally automated via the software – to give a realistic ‘feel’ of themself. Hamilton says that to be able to view each applicant on video helps enormously to see how they conduct themselves and their personality can shine through. “It’s also a more comfortable environment to express their skills and answers to direct questions in their own time without being put on the spot. We must realise that even the most skilled and most outgoing don’t always perform on cue.”
Cerebral Palsy League
The non-profit, Cerebral Palsy League (CPL) is an organisation that provides vital support and services to more than 8000 children with disabilities in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
CPL’s Jordan McCarthy, general manager of marketing and communications, says CPL has a broad range of marketing, communications and media positions. “When recruiting for a new marketing position, I look for a range of key skills such as excellent writing abilities, some graphic design experience and strong customer service skills. I also look for someone who doesn’t want just another job in marketing. Every member of our team is passionate about working for an organisation like CPL.
“We give our clients freedom of choice, the opportunity to follow their passions and the support to live the life they choose. I want someone who wakes up every day excited to promote that message.
“We offer roles that require varying levels of experience – from university internship positions to senior marketing and media manager roles. Ideally, all of our applicants have a university degree in a relevant field, such as business, marketing or communications.”
McCarthy says as the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) draws closer, CPL wants to ensure “that we are known as the disability service provider of choice”.
Survey Sampling International
In a role that covers Australia, Singapore, Greater China, Japan and Korea, Michael Connell, director of human resources at Survey Sampling International (SSI), says as well as education in marketing and a strong focus on business-to-business marketing, recruiters for his company also look for language capabilities, especially in the Asia Pacific region. SSI is a global provider of opinions to drive business success, with staff operating from 25 offices in 18 countries.
“We have a VP of marketing based in our head office in New York, with regions of the Americas, APAC and EU. In each region we have a regional marketing manager that is responsible for planning and executing for all-region marketing activities, which can cover regional and global initiatives. Some aspects are event planning and execution, advertising and public relations, knowledge management, operations and analytics and sales support. These regional marketing managers are supported by marketing coordinators in each country.
“The first marketing job in our organisation is a coordinator role in the specific country and, yes, we do look at graduates for these roles,” adds Connell.
Emma Pilcher, human resources manager at KinCare, a leading provider of in-home health and wellbeing care, says it’s an exciting time in her rapidly expanding industry. “KinCare has such a fast-growing brand at the moment in the healthcare space – we are excited to see what is going to eventuate further with our client and talent brand. Careers in marketing at KinCare cover everything from brand, digital, content and strategic marketing. As we grow, we hope to be able to grow our own team internally and draw from external experience as the opportunities arise.
“Part of our talent management process is to seek people who are innovative and can show their creativity but also be flexible. Our ideal candidate is able to work in a team environment, is ideas and solutions focused, has an understanding of the ‘bigger picture’ and wants to contribute to success.
“Adaptable, flexible and agile are also high on our list when it comes to identifying talent that would suit our business,” says Pilcher.
The online matchmakers
Tony Ward, talent solutions Australia and New Zealand, LinkedIn, says: “As a genuine part of the recruitment ecosystem, LinkedIn Recruiter is a powerful and comprehensive solution that provides both transparency and 24/7 access to passive talent. It allows recruiters to build a talent pipeline and engage with talent in new and compelling ways.
Justin Babet, who runs website Job Advisor, speaks to a lot of internal recruiters about how they recruit and also sets up internal recruitment functions for many companies, including media organisations. Babet says, “We refer to ourselves as a ‘culture matching’ platform to help match jobseekers with the right company culture.
“At a more general level, the key thing recruiters look for is tangible results. This means on your CV or LinkedIn profile you need to talk about what you’ve achieved. Try to use fewer broad adjectives such as ‘dedicated’ and ‘driven’… and more specific statements such as ‘I achieved…’ or ‘I improved…’ or ‘under budget…’
“The main things people look for are a strong track record and recommendations… no surprise really. The interesting thing we’re seeing at the moment is that transformation experience is becoming more commonly sought-after (be that transforming a business, product or service) because a lot of industries are being disrupted and challenged.
“Also being visible definitely helps, so that means a strong LinkedIn profile [and] ideally some thought leadership,” adds Ward.
For jobseekers at large, more skills than ever before are required to get a job in marketing. With top marketing salaries at medium-sized companies reaching the $250,000 to $300,000 mark, there is plenty of competition to get a gig, according to a recent joint study by the University of Virginia School of Business and the CMO Council. Globally, top salaries for CMOs exceed US$500,000.
The other side of the job-search coin is the prioritisation of employer branding. Employers are taking talent management to new heights, by improving employee engagement, focusing on benefits, flexibility and corporate social responsibility. Smart employers are already sure of what they want. This means that if a candidate knows what she wants, and can back it up, the chips are, these days, stacked far more favourably.