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New tactics for getting hired in digital

Bethany Simpson
New tactics for getting hired in digital Bethany Simpson

The hiring process in the digital marketing space is getting more competitive, especially for leadership roles. And if you're not preparing now, you could find landing your next great job to be much harder than you anticipated.

There are a number of variables affecting the hiring climate including shifting skill sets, changes in brand and agency relationships, and a quickly maturing digital ecosystem. But our interview guest, Jeff Gundersen, says the most important current trend is the rapid scaling of mobile advertising converging with geo-targeting and the blended area of physical and virtual customer engagement. This leads to greater demand for data analytics and digital or mobile technical positions, as well as positions that manage and strategize these areas. Gundersen says when top companies are looking for new leaders, they're going to be looking for superstars -- and if you haven't cultivated a personal brand and communicated it to the right people, you won't be on the radar.

It's one thing to write tweets and blog posts about your area of expertise, it's another to develop a proactive personal brand that will get the attention of top companies. Jeff Gundersen is CEO and founder of Executive Connections LLC, a boutique executive search consulting and personal branding firm specializing in marketing. Gundersen lands top digital marketers at top companies, and he helps both the new hire and the company collaborate to make sure the hire sticks. Gundersen says that the people getting the top jobs are those who have taken the time to create and shape their brand. He admits that is can be hard -- with the attention our jobs require -- to make time to focus on our own "marketing plan." But Gundersen says it's critical, especially moving forward.

What is a personal brand?

Your personal brand is your unique promise of value, your reputation, and everything that creates and leaves an impression about you. It includes both physical and digital elements, and takes time and intention to develop and maintain. Clarity of your personal brand direction will allow you to make purposeful, strategic career path decisions. It's also important to stay "on brand" so you avoid career moves that are damaging to your long-term brand value. And when you build a stellar brand and reputation, you become a sought after candidate.

In the following interview, we break down the steps to developing and maintaining your brand, including important dos and don'ts. Gundersen also diagnoses two mistakes companies make in the hiring process, and offers steps companies can take to find the current and rising superstars in order to shape their teams to drive the most value. We've included conversation highlights below to help you navigate the topics.

Conversation highlights

0:30 - It's critical to have a personal brand. Clarity of your personal brand direction will let you make purposeful, strategic career path decisions. It's also important to stay "on brand" so you avoid career moves that are damaging to your long-term brand value. And when you build a "stellar brand" and reputation, you become a sought after candidate.

2:00 - If you don't have a solid personal brand, top companies won't pursue you.

2:30 - Your personal brand is your unique promise of value. This includes your reputation, physical aspects like your appearance, handshake, and confidence, and how you show up online including the technology you use, your social media profiles, articles, blogs, and other thought leadership, and what people find when they google you after a meeting.

4:00 - The first step to developing a personal brand is taking a personal inventory. Before you can clearly communicate your personal brand to the marketplace, you need to first understand what your personal brand is, and what it isn't. The first step is to inventory your strengths, weaknesses, vision, values, purpose, and goals.

5:15 - Step two is to widen the circle. Survey bosses, peers, clients, etc. to understand how their perceive you. Step three is to discern the themes and characteristics that differentiate you and make you strand out.

6:15 - Many of the most successful leaders come from non-traditional industry backgrounds.

7:55 - The next step is communication. This is typically one of the most challenging aspects, because senior executives do not spend the time building the outside connections they need when it's time for a personal brand move.

10:00 - Develop and execute an integrated communications plan (including offline and online elements) to build your visibility and credibility with your target audience. The centerpiece of the communications plan is the packaging and positioning of your brand. While this is a time investment, if will have a major impact.

11:15 - The important dos and don'ts of building a personal brand include...

14:40 - When a hire doesn't work out, it's usually the result of one of these two factors.

17:50 - There are three steps companies should take when hiring senior marketing positions. They include clearly defining the role, deliverables, and timeframes; and aligning goals across the enterprise; and identifying emotional intelligence attributes most critical to the success of a senior marketer.

22:00 - The two "dos" of successful hiring are: be willing to take a chance on a "stretch candidate," and make digital and analytical skills the top criteria in selecting future senior digital marketing leaders and CMOs.

23:40 - The two "don'ts" of successful hiring are: don't ignore cultural alignment, and don't go cheap on hiring senior marketing talent.

25:10 - Many companies are missing the boat on opportunities to hire the right leaders. Many teams lack a "voice of the customer" advocate, and are missing diversity of age, experience, background, and gender.

30:30 - Future marketing leaders will not come through traditional marketing backgrounds.

Jeff Gundersen started his marketing consulting experience as a Marketing and Business Strategy Consultant in the NY office of Deloitte Consulting, and has advised numerous Top 100 Global Advertisers, Media and Marketing Services companies on executive recruitment, executive coaching, personal branding, and Board of Directors search.

Bethany Simpson

Bethany has worked with Fortune-1000 executives for 8 years. From 2007 to 2011 she served as director of content development for the Leadership Network, a private online community for C-Level leaders of Fortune-1000 companies and $1B+ organizations.

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