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11 surprising tips for hiring in digital

Posted by Bethany Simpson on February 10th, 2014 at 4:39 am

Marketers are candid behind closed doors. At this week's iMedia Brand Summit, I was surprised to hear how open sr. marketers are about the difficulty of finding and keeping talent, even if they're at Fortune-500 companies and directing exciting projects. (Hard as it might be to believe if you're a qualified candidate who can't get the right interviews.)

But marketers are also resourceful. Here are some surprising pieces of advice they had for each other for hiring and retaining great team members, and for avoiding problems with entitled workers:

1. Become a professor. Get on the teaching faculty of a local higher education institution (community college, college, university, etc.) so you can recruit entry-level hires from your students (and test them with real-life problems as homework), and network with other professors to tap into former graduates as 5-7 year experience mid-level hires.

This can sometimes lead to a board position with the institution, so you have more influence on classes and/or curriculum.

2. Beware the helicopters. Have new hires sign contracts that their parents won't call HR to negotiate salary adjustments. This is a thing now. You've been warned.

3. Go over market rate. Intentionally put them in golden handcuffs. Pay team members with four years of experience at a six-years-of-experience rate. They can't lateral, they'll stay. (It's cheaper than hiring and training new talent.)

4. Don't forget the "T" word. Starbucks barristas annually get more training than most digital marketers. Cross-train your digital teams to know traditional marketing, cross-train all of your teams to know social, give your technical managers the right strategic training (e.g. SAAS), and keep the focus on growing young leaders.

5. Stay connected. Network network network.

6. Don't believe the myth that good hires will never leave X. If you have the clout (or even if you don't think you do), recruit directly from the source: e.g. SEO people from Google. The right enticements can help people make the jump to a brand or agency.

7. Try this rich, but unexpected, source of talent. Hire people away from elite consulting firms. They have incredible experience, and are tired of constant travel.

8. Hire "outside the box." Hire journalists and people with anthropology backgrounds for social and content positions. And hire people from the music industry: they've been marketing "people" as brands–they know how to make a brand personal.

9. Keep perspective. Know your role players vs. your upwardly mobile people, and be OK with each.

10. Listen. When you interview, listen for how your candidate describes their former company. You want to hear a sense of ownership and pride.

11. Build leadership training into your culture. Consider a reverse mentoring program, and/or connect young leaders with more experienced ones.

Post your tips below, or tweet them to @bethanysimpson.

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