This article is contributed by Ali Nomani, Consultant - Sales & Marketing (B2C), Michael Page Middle East
The marketing discipline is constantly being disrupted with new technologies, new platforms and new opportunities. Marketers must therefore be open-minded, entrepreneurial and innately curious. If you are looking to build or expand your marketing team, then below are some of the key attributes to look for in candidates whilst hiring. 

1.    Leadership

As remote working has become part of the 'new normal' for many organisations, and teams getting smaller and leaner, marketers will resonate with “You are own leader.” As the spokesperson responsible for driving the message of the brand, organizations are relying on their marketing teams to be a crucial part of developing the strategy and direction of the brand guiding them to unfamiliar territory and relying on them to get the message across to consumers. Business are willing to take risks if backed by strong data and at the center of it, want a leader to build and take charge of these projects.

For example, I recently hired a Marketing Manager for a snacking company based out of APAC. The successful candidate exemplified extraordinary leadership skills in her career. It had nothing to do with team management, but the way she took a particular failing brand and doubled its YoY growth by introducing new sales channels based on the data she collected from studying the competition, looking at demographics and putting a strong business case forward - a risk which paid off because of how she took ownership of that project.    

2.    Agility / Adaptability

Listening and moving with your market and consumers is crucial. Marketing teams have had to be extremely quick and change their approach to consumers. Whether this was taking your brand online, moving to a cloud kitchen format if you’re rent was expensive, or introducing promotions traditionally at a period when you would not, clients like candidates who can plug-and-play and hit the ground running.

I had a client that was facing regulatory challenges, import delays and stock management challenges as the supply chain team sitting in Brazil was extremely burdened and in parallel lost a key member of their marketing team in the region. While the existing marketing employee was good at handling campaigns, communications and brand activations, the replacement I recruited for them was someone who was strategically agile with experience in other critical aspects such as creative-thinking, problem-solving and developing a medium-term vision for the brand.   

3.    Analytical Skills

In 2020, an unprecedented number of my senior marketing contacts were relying on their teams' ability to read, breakdown and understand the data at hand.  

A year on from the start of the pandemic we are still trying to understand the medium to long term implications. Economists are trying to understand it’s socio-economic impact, scientists the health impacts and although it is difficult for organizations to currently build long term plans and see them through, with the available data at hand, they rely on their marketing teams to build their strategies and when possible use any new data to further enhance that strategy or adapt it accordingly.

4.    Multi-skilled / Digital capabilities

Traditional marketing teams operated in functional silos: Digital, Demand, Brand, Corporate Communications, etc. While relatively clear, this structure makes it harder for marketing to quickly respond to change; when work must pass through each silo before it reaches an audience. Traditional and digital marketing no longer complement one another but have become one in a marketing strategy and businesses are seeking candidates who have experience in both.

If you are starting out your career, you may look to specialize in one aspect of marketing and upskill yourself in another. For example, in a global organization with a large team, you may transition into a pure digital marketing team where you are responsible for website development, online content creation and building search engine marketing strategies or you may start out in the marketing and communications teams responsible for brand development, in store marketing and more commercial marketing strategies. 

As you reach the mid-management level, hiring managers expect you to either have direct experience in one or the other or to have an understanding on how to delegate or direct internal teams or agencies to execute these plans.

As a recruiter, when developing a shortlist of candidates for a role, besides looking at the CV and what they’ve done, I always look out for how candidates have handled certain behavioral and business situations. A lot of these skills are demonstrated by the strong candidates. 
There have been situations where candidates have not gotten a chance to experience a situation to utilize these skills or gain the experience, and that’s where their knowledge and understanding puts them on par with those who have. 

Our own survey of marketing professionals showed the breakdown of why they wanted to upskill themselves: 

  • To adapt to new tasks in my current role (61%)
  • To be more innovative at work (60%)
  • To improve my career prospects (57%)

Also read: The Evolving Role of Marketers in the Middle East in the Wake of COVID-19

If you are looking to hire, learn more about our recruitment services and please submit a job spec so we can help you find the best talent. You can also browse through more articles in our Management Advice

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