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How do you hire a marketing technologist?
Employers and candidates may not even be speaking the same language in this emerging sector. So how do you stand out and connect with top talent in a competitive market?
Martech is an emerging discipline that constitutes the intersection of traditional marketing fundamentals and bleeding-edge technologies. How do companies find and recruit people that sit within this intersection? How do you recruit marketing technologists when the ideal candidates might not even think to identify themselves in that rubric?
These questions made for a dynamic topic of discussion at the MarTech conference in Boston last week. The session, called “Inside the Search for a Martech Unicorn: How Healthgrades Attracted and Landed Top Martech Talent,” provided perspectives of the hiring team, the recruiter and the winning candidate.
The recruiter, Erica Seidel, created an infographic to help bring color and personality to the job description. “There’s this assumption there’s going to be tons and tons of people available, but welcome to martech. If you’re looking for a marketing technology person, you need to sell to them. You’re marketing to marketers. Think of yourself more as a talent scout.”
The winning candidate, Correy Honza, earned the position of director of marketing technology at Healthgrades, an online resource for information about physicians and hospitals. Honza had not been actively looking for a new job and didn’t think of himself as a “marketing technologist.” Then he came across the infographic Seidel created to recruit for the position. He told the audience, “I was so impressed that this company would spend the time to put something like this together. And I said, ‘Yes this is me!'”
“We are still early days in this space,” said Jay Wilson, SVP, marketing platforms and services at Healthgrades, who represented the hiring team on the panel. He said they realized the language they were using to describe the role didn’t match how candidates were thinking and talking about it. Seidel helped them speak the same language.
Honza went through a rigorous interview process that included giving a presentation on himself to showcase his talents. In the final round, Honza says the hiring team gave him a task: “You got the role. What would you do for the next six months?” He was then given access to staff, data and tools to craft his plan. Siedel encourages her clients to give finalist candidates work that will let them “try on the job for size. It can be a small project. Look for substance instead of style.”
Honza said the interview process prepared him to hit the ground running on his first day. “I understood the culture and people and how to make connections,” he said.
Seidel says it’s often not deficits in aptitude or attitude that hurt interview candidates. “The thing that trips people up is ‘altitude.’ I think a lot of martech people are strong in attitude, and aptitude is easy to assess. Altitude is the ability to level-up when talking to a CMO, for example [and discuss strategy rather than in-the-weeds tactics].”
Wilson agreed: “The ability to go micro to macro is what separates leaders in this space.”
To those looking to get into martech, Wilson said, “You need to be comfortable living in the middle, in the blur. Sometimes that makes me uncomfortable and makes teams uncomfortable because you are in this middle place, and you can feel like you’re crossing boundaries. It shouldn’t really matter, though, because your job is to make customer experiences better. It’s not about a clearly defined role but about the outcomes you’re creating.”