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Straight Talk from Sales and Marketing Hiring Managers – Jay Weinberg, President

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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 Jay Weinberg, President of The JAY Group. A Chicago-based marketing firm, The JAY Group specializes in customer insights and programs that motivate clicks, calls, or visits to help our clients drive revenue. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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

JW: I look for people who have a high level of enthusiasm and inquisitiveness. I look for strong communications skills, as that is so important, yet lacking, in our industry (marketing services). But most of all, I look for people who think about solutions and do not simply complete tasks. There are many good candidates on paper who turn out to be “mentally lazy”.

BYC: Where do you like to find candidates?

JW: Recommendations are the best source, but only certain kinds. Recommendations that come from actually working with a person are the best source of new employees. Recommendations of people as a favor to friends or if they know someone socially are not nearly as valuable.

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

JW: That depends on the role, but overall the most important quality is being a self-starter. People in any role need to be able to work well without constant direction and oversight. They need to find valuable activities when things are slow. They need to be prepared and to be thinking about issues and how to solve them, not just follow directions.

BYC: How important is a person’s resume in the hiring process?

JW: It is only valuable in culling out those who are clearly unqualified or is not able to communicate effectively. A resume can knock you out, but can’t close the deal.

I rarely even refer to it in an interview. I would much rather talk with a candidate and find out about their skills, experience, and desires through a conversation and samples of their work.

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

JW: Sometimes. When I do, I’m looking to get clues on their character and personality. Culture fit is important, and I can tell a lot about someone from their social media profile.

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

JW: Become an expert. Generalists have a difficult time, so you need to focus on a specific area of interest and “go deep”.

Don’t be intimidated by people. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities.  Confidence shows and is powerful. If you’re not confident, do what it takes to get yourself confident, which usually means to have strong knowledge of what you say you know on your resume.

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

JW: My favorite question is to ask at the very start of the interview, “So what would you like to talk about?” This both creates a less formal atmosphere and at the same time throws the interviewee a curve ball.  I learn a lot from their reaction when I immediately offer to let them lead the meeting. This should be the perfect question for a candidate, as they get to say exactly what they want instead of hoping I ask the right questions. Smart candidates adjust without a hitch. Most people decline the offer to run the meeting and try to steer it back to a traditional format.

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

JW: No matter what the role in marketing, a candidate can state, “I can help grow this business.” They can also back it up with an explanation of what they would do and how they are uniquely qualified.

Seek out specific jobs at specific companies, and have a good reason why this is the perfect job for you. Enthusiasm goes a long way. But don’t fake it (too much). If you end up getting the job and lose interest or can’t deliver, you’ll have done both yourself and your employer a disservice.

I hope you enjoyed this installment of Straight Talk From Sales and Marketing Hiring Managers. 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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