The marketing professionals that can’t, apparently, market themselves

January 2018

I’m currently in the process of recruiting a marketing manager for a long-standing client. It’s a task I relish, and in part because it’s an opportunity to meet smart young marketing professionals and discuss the challenges of our chosen industry. And not forgetting of course, I also enjoy the process because, if I get it right, my client ends up with a top-rate marketer to help take their business forward.

Before any interviews take place, the first step is of course to review a raft of CVs sent through by the recruitment agency. My expectation is – and I’d suggest not unreasonably – is that experience or skill-set aside, I’ll be looking at individual CVs which a) are superbly presented, and b) are devoid of any typos, punctuation mistakes or grammatical errors. I mean it isn’t like the job is for a warehouse manager who could be forgiven for not having a first-class command of the English language or a sense of typography; no, we’re talking about people whose very existence should, at least in part, be focused on creating an excellent impression and in all respects.

So it was with some disappointment that, having forwarded some of the CVs to the MD of my client for a view, I’m left defending the basic quality of them. So not the candidates’ experience or qualifications, but the basic ability to lay out a professional looking document and string a coherent sentence together without any errors in it.

I probably shouldn’t have done this, but I decided that I’d interview two of those that might have even struggled to get a grade E in GCE English – let alone a job with my client. Why would I do such a thing? Well on a relatively pragmatic level and in the context of benchmarking for the stronger candidates, it seemed like a reasonable idea. However, in truth and on a more personal and selfish level, it was largely about curiosity.

Interestingly and along with their lack of English language skills, both the candidates also had something else in common: a lack of strong people skills, drive and ambition. Of course this could have just been a coincidence and certainly a sample of two is hardly robust data, but none the less it did leave me speculating that self-development is probably not that high on the agenda if a sense of mediocrity is the order of the day.

Anyway, a great candidate was appointed – and needless to say their CV was first rate, as was their people skills, drive and ambition.

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