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Straight Talk from Sales and Marketing Hiring Managers – Chris Gloede, CMO

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We love to share insights from hiring managers in the sales and marketing industry on what it takes to get hired. Today’s guest is Chris Gloede, CMO of the American Bar Association. At the American Bar Association, one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations at nearly 400K members, Gloede guides a team of 80+ staff driving product management, membership marketing, social media and digital marketing, customer research, business analytics, customer service center, inventory operations and more. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

BYC: What types of qualities do you look for in candidates?

CG: The first thing I look for are candidates that understand marketing isn’t advertising. They must be a business-oriented person. I want to make sure they can think about what the ultimate business goals are and how a campaign fits those goals. For me it’s a lot about analytics, so they need to be very competent with Excel.

Another important attribute is they must be adaptable to change – both internal organizational change as well as changes in customer behavior. We want someone that is a creative thinker and not afraid to go outside the box.

Finally, I look for someone that has really prepared for the interview. Did they do their homework on the company and did they look me up.

BYC: Where do you like to find candidates?

CG: Two places — LinkedIn and friends of people I trust. We use LinkedIn to find passive candidates because quality candidates may not always be available. So we’ll search using some of the key terms of our open position and reach out to people there.

The other thing I do is reach out to my network and ask if they have worked with anyone they would recommend for the position. I’m looking for highly functioning workers, and the only way to know that is to find someone that has worked with the person. So it is really important that it is not someone they just know socially, but someone that they can actually vouch for their professional experience.

BYC: What is the most important thing you consider in assessing a candidate?

CG: I look for someone that can set a linear path and lead through non-linear decision-making. I need someone that can methodically plan it [a project] out, but when things twist and turn, they can adapt and deal with the unexpected occurrences and still arrive at the finish line.

BYC: How important is a person’s resume in the hiring process? What about a cover letter?

CG: The resume is not a decision-making tool, but a qualification tool. Typos and carelessness will get you weeded out. I work with accomplished attorneys and they need someone that is going to take care in their work.

Usually, I don’t read the cover letter. If I am on the fence about a candidate I might read the cover letter.

BYC: Do you check out candidates on LinkedIn before you speak to them?

CG: Yes, but not before I speak to them. When it comes time to decide to advance a candidate, I will look at their profile to see if we have any common connections. If it is someone I know fairly well, I will reach out and make an informal inquiry about the candidate.

BYC: What tips do you have for someone looking to further their career in marketing?

CG: For me, the big misconception is you can continue to be in marketing if you don’t have the quantitative chops. You need to refine your quantitative skills. You need to be able to evaluate campaigns and other data.

In order to get noticed and get ahead, you need to volunteer for projects that you are interested in. I am currently working with people 3-4 levels below me because they volunteered to help out. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to show what you’ve got.

BYC: What is your favorite recruiting story?

CG: I have two, both personal ones. Years ago, I was going through the interview process with an agency, and had gone through multiple rounds of interviews with different people. They kept adding interview rounds.  I thought it was a bad sign that the company didn’t know what they wanted for this position, so I contacted them and told them I was taking myself out of the running. It turned out this move made them kick into gear and ask for one last interview. I said I was only going to come in if there was an offer on the table, so that is what they did.

Another time I was interviewing for a start-up company and had arranged to meet a board member at a Starbucks. The board member came up to me, introduced himself, and then cancelled the interview because they decided to go with another candidate.  Shortest interview of my life.

It just goes to show you, you never know what will happen in the interview process.

BYC: Do you have any favorite questions you like to ask in interviews?

CG: Yes, I do. The first is “What is your understanding of this job?” Usually, by the time the candidate talks with me, they have interviewed with many others and should have a good idea of what the job is. I want to confirm the candidate is listening well, as well as check if my staff has explained the position properly.

The other question I like is “What marketing have you seen recently that you liked and why?” The why is really the important part of this question. I want to hear them talk about why it’s strategic and relevant, and why they thought it cut through the clutter. It’s all about the description, not the actual campaign itself. I find it interesting also, what channel they find the campaign on.

BYC: What is your best advice for job candidates seeking a marketing position?

CG: I mentioned this before that it is critical to build your quantitative skills, and remember that it’s not just advertising. The other advice I have is network, network, network – especially for young people. I sometimes guest lecture at Columbia College and it surprises me how few students take me up on the offer to connect with me on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to reach out to leaders in the field, and start building connections. And, don’t be afraid to leverage friends in common and use those contacts to put in a good word even after the interview.

BYC: Is there anything else about the recruitment process you want to share today?

CG: I think it’s a different world than it used to be. In the old world it was hard to find people for the position. Now, we just get a flood of resumes, and it’s difficult to get through that and find the qualified ones. If I get a call from someone I know, that will get you to the front of the line.

You should never be insulted if you don’t get the job. You can never really tell from a series of 30-60 minute interviews how that person is actually going to perform on the job, and sometimes a hiring manager makes a mistake.

What is your favorite piece of advice from Chris Gloede? Let us know in the comments below. If you’d like to be featured in this series, please contact Michelle at 773-531-3457, or info@brandyourcareer.com.

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