DAM is a combination of technology, policy and people. The people piece is essential and often overlooked. Freedom's services in this area are focused on organizational alignment and change management, but we don’t provide staffing services. That's why Freedom has partnered with Filter, a market leader in talent staffing across a wide variety of creative disciplines. We’re excited to feature their thought leadership below on content team modeling.    -- Freedom Marketing

The increasing impact of digital marketing programs on strategic business objectives places pressure on organizations to find the right executive leadership. Defining what traits make up a successful content leader is one initial hurdle in the search for a candidate. Finding that candidate can be even harder as expressed in Capgemini Consulting’s presentation about the digital talent gap.

This is causing hiring managers and internal HR teams to experience strain as they work to source, attract, and vet candidates in search for the right marketing leader. I sat down with Michael Thore, Director of Executive Search at Filter to discuss some of the difficulties companies face when they search for content-focused executive level talent. Here are some of his recommendations:

Q: What can organizations do to attract the best executive level marketing and content talent?

A: You attract the best executives by being the best at something—best product or service in its class, best leadership team, best culture/lifestyle, best learning or growth opportunity. It’s also all about the right person for the right role at the right time. Executive level and senior candidates generally know what they are looking for and it’s not like you can (or would) change your organization to attract a candidate. But then again, if you aren’t able to close the right ones, maybe you should! 

Also ask yourself – why are we looking for this person? Perhaps we need leadership who can turn our business around. We need someone who can give us a clear mission and path to walk. We have great people and a product that has amazing potential, but we are just average at execution. We were once best-of-breed, but haven’t evolved with the market fast enough and are losing share to smaller, more nimble organizations. Maybe our product has evolved at the right pace but our message and positioning hasn't kept up.

You have to have at least some of the right elements for anyone to come in and be successful. Know what those elements are, be able to articulate them, but also be able to honestly articulate the real, known challenges. These are the types of challenges the best executive level talent wants to take on and will want to tell you how they can tackle them.

Q: What are some characteristics that today’s marketing executives should embody to meet these challenges?

A: Almost every senior level marketing position we see now absolutely needs a solid mix of traditional and digital. Truly senior marketing executives are super-consumers of information. They love data. They are up-to-date on current trends and the evolution of their craft. They know their efforts have to be quantifiable. They are fans of automation and efficiency. They know the tools needed, what’s available to meet the need, and they know how to use them. Everything is measured or they don’t do it. They love being the expert on what the company does for its customers and love writing the “company line.” They dive deep into a product and market to understand how to better serve customers and therefore better position the company.

Q: Why is the job posting alone insufficient in finding these professionals?

A: No job description is complete. Public companies are usually restricted by format and content into mundane lists of must-haves and whatnots. It doesn’t excite anyone. Most job descriptions are hardly real descriptions of the job! And even if they absolutely nail it, they can only attract candidates with the posting if the candidates see it. Like a good marketing strategy, posting and advertising are a necessity, but insufficient means of attracting candidates.

If people aren’t looking at your careers page or the job sites where you pay to post, they probably aren’t seeing that masterpiece of a job description. Maybe you’ve got an excellent social presence and strategy that can leverage your employee network for the right referrals. Most don’t. And the ones that do? Their most important jobs, the ones that can have the biggest impact on the success of their business, don’t get filled quickly enough by these means. At least not quickly enough to fully seize the market opportunities that require timely hiring. That’s where a search partner can make a difference and get you connected with the right candidates.

Q: What should an organization consider before working with an executive search provider?

A: Take time to understand the commitment to a recruiting partnership. Be willing to talk about the business impact of hiring such an individual and divulge the details necessary to attract and hire the right talent. The companies that successfully engage executive search firms consider them a partner. They see search firms as an integral part of their overall talent acquisition and talent management strategy. They consider the firm their advocate in the talent community and encourage open communications between all parties.

Generally speaking, internal recruiters are most effective within their range of positions for their customer group. For instance, they might be focused on developers, UX and design, or marketers. If the openings get into director-level and above, their networks might not be as strong, and they have to start the search from scratch. This takes them away from their area of focus and will affect overall progress.

Some organizations handle executive level talent acquisition very well. They are typically either large enough to have an executive recruiter to focus on the high-level positions or small enough that they can get the right people out of their own leadership’s network. The rest....well….they struggle. 

Executive recruiting is a different level of conversation. It’s more about the overall business objectives—what they are struggling to achieve. It’s being able to have that conversation with a small pool of candidates and compel someone to take on the challenge. Let's face it, the higher the level of the position, the smaller the candidate pool. A well-defined strategy and approach—this is where your recruiting agency can partner with you to make a plan for success.

Learn more about Filter’s Executive Search practice.