2018 Hiring Recap

On November 18 I had the privilege of delivering a presentation on Hiring Marketing Trends at the Chicago AMA’s Career Smart event. I spoke alongside Gibraltar Business Capital’s SVP of Marketing and Operations, Jess Moyer. Below is a recap of our presentation including the resources that we shared. The Chicago AMA provides wonderful resources and is an excellent source of high quality networking and education. We were honored to be a part of this fabulous evening!

The noise regarding today’s job market is unavoidable—you can’t go anywhere without hearing about how low unemployment is. With all this noise you may wonder: How can I hire with all this competition—or you may think—if there’s so much opportunity why aren’t people beating down my door with job offers? It’s critical that you learn how to Stand Out…in the right way.

Defining Your Need

For Hiring Managers, how you define your candidate need as an organization, how you approach going to market to recruit for that person, and what your interview process is like are critical discussions to be having well before going to market for a candidate. If a candidate is interviewing or exploring an offer with your organization, they are absolutely exploring other jobs with other companies.

Let’s look at the noise and competition on the job boards this year compared to last year:

job postings
Source: EMSI www.economicmodeling.com

With so much competition, it’s imperative that an organization sell their company and role to prospective employees.

Selling “The Why” and Be Organized

There is no such thing as a passive candidate. Once a candidate is contacted about an opportunity, that person is officially on the market…and with a market like today’s you cannot waste time. Candidates want a smooth interview process, career trajectory, and solid benefits.

Candidates can sense a messy environment a mile away…and a disjointed, over-extended, multi-step interview process will quickly turn a candidate off. One of the best things you can do to ensure a smooth hiring process is identify your 3-5 non-negotiable candidate requirements. Sit down and come up with your laundry list that you’re looking for…go ahead, get it alllll out there. And then edit it 35 times with all the people who are making the hiring decision and in agreement with the top 3-5 qualities you want this person to possess to make your life easier.

When I meet with clients to discuss an open role, I love to ask them the fun parts of the conversation: the why parts. Why are you here? Why do you stay? Why has your longest tenured employee stayed? Why this company? It’s critical for organizations to be compelling and sell who they are to sought-after candidates.

Be Open-Minded

Be open-minded to candidates who demonstrate having the aptitude to grow with your company.  Pay attention to why they made jumps in their career, not how many. Think about how they approached the interview itself when you’re thinking about the candidate as a full package. Were they polished and prepared? Did they bring ideas? Waiting for the “Perfect Fit” who checks off all the boxes signals that you’re not really ready to hire—and puts your time to getting the candidate who can truly help you advance your strategies in the chair that much further down the road.

On the candidate side, you’ve got thousands of job postings to pursue so stay away from laundry lists! Gravitate your search toward postings that brag about the benefits, show you a path, and give you a feel that the organization is concerned about your growth with their company. Checkboxes, exclusionary postings, you’ve got your choice so keep going. At the same time, know what the market is looking for and know how to apply those needs to how you sell yourself.

What the Market Wants

top hard skills
Source: EMSI www.economicmodeling.com

This list of “Top Requested Hard Skills” over the past year demonstrates that skills that add to the bottom line of a company  are truly in demand: business development, analytics, selling techniques, digital marketing, and customer relationship management.

More companies than ever have come to me asking for marketing directors and managers who can re-strategize their efforts. As a candidate, always think about how the work you do improves the bottom line for an organization. Whether it’s driving membership increases for an association or introducing new, digitized marketing initiatives for a legacy organization, always be thinking about how you can translate how you move the needle into your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Companies are coming to us more often for go-to-market strategies in efforts to stay ahead of the competition. Many hiring managers over the past year have specified wanting to see candidates who are keeping up with the trends and can anticipate what’s next.

Defining Culture Fit

Culture fit ranks high up there with the “Reason for Rejection.” It’s a lovely grey area. Well, yes, this person can define a marketing plan on a limited budget, they are HubSpot certified, and yes, they can code emails…but the culture fit is missing. How are you as a hiring manager effectively assessing culture fit during the interview process?

I went to lunch with a friend of mine who leads marketing and operational success for a SaaS organization here in Chicago. She shared with me a great series of questions she asks candidates to help her successfully vet for culture. These questions help develop themes and consistencies across a candidate’s background. Themes that form synchronicity with your brand and beliefs can turn a “not-perfect fit” from a skills perspective into a candidate with the right aptitude to be a great hire.

culture fit

These questions start with the very first experience listed in the candidate’s resume. The answers candidates give to these questions are very telling and can paint a pretty descriptive picture of the accomplishments this person is capable of achieving with your organization.

On the candidate side, these questions are a great way for you to prepare talking points for all of the work that you’ve done for your organization. Taking time to walk through your background and asking yourself these questions prepares you for sitting across the table from a hiring manager and showing them concrete examples of how you moved the needle, thought outside the box, or implemented cost-savings for an organization…and if a company isn’t asking these questions then that’s certainly indicative of their culture.

Top Hiring Industries

top industries

Market trends show us that there’s been a large uptick in roles in manufacturing and a decrease in roles in the retail sector. With the loss of marketing positions with major retailers including Sears and Claire’s here in Chicago this certainly isn’t a surprise. Many times I speak with marketing directors and managers who have devoted a significant portion of their careers to a specific field, say the association or retail world, and wonder how they can translate this experience to an area of industry that is experiencing growth.

Think about how you can lift your marketing work and the results it obtained out of the industry you have been in. Focus on the impacts your work made on the bottom line of an organization or increased membership. Consider adding case studies to the body of your resume and LinkedIn profile.

2018 Marketing Career Resources

So how do you build a more organized interviewing process, close skills gaps, and find sources of inspiration? Here are some excellent career resources including books, blogs, continuing educational suggestions, and networking groups! I look forward to next year’s recap and findings! I’d love to hear from you–WunderLand is always here to support you in hiring or with your career development.


“What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith

“The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search” by Orville Pierson

“Epic Content Marketing” by Joe Pulizzi

“Creative Conspiracy” by Leigh Thompson

“Who Gets Promoted Who Doesn’t and Why” by Donald Asher

“Digital Marketers Sound Off” by Matt Chiera

“1001 Ways to Recognize Employees” by Bob Nelson














Continuing Education

Ice Nine: https://icenineonline.com/training-sessions/

General Assembly:  https://generalassemb.ly/locations/chicago



American Marketing Association’s Chicago Chapter

Meetup.com (“Chicago Area Marketing Associations”)

Content Marketing Institute

Women in Digital


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