The Parable of the 39 Year Old CMO: Why You Should Answer Marketing Recruiter Calls

5-Why You Should Answer Marketing Recruiter Calls

Picking up the phone when the right people call could mean the difference between years more at your current job and a high-level marketing position in two weeks.

The Case of the 39 Year Old CMO

Except in the case of small startups, it’s almost unheard of for someone to achieve C-suite status before the age of 40. This is especially true for the CMO role, where experience and a long proven track record are particularly venerated.

Yet we were able to help one marketing professional do just that—because she was smart enough to help herself.

Our relationship with this incredibly talented woman started partway through her career. She’d produced tremendous results at several organizations and climbed her way to a VP position at a large company, becoming the youngest to ever claim a VP spot there.

We knew we had to have her for an EVP role at a software client, and reached out to her about the job. She made the wise choice to listen to our pitch and eventually accepted the position. As expected she fit right in, loved the job and excelled immediately.  Her efforts were key contributions that led to that client being bought up just 2 years after she arrived.

Her next move was as part of the founding team of a new software venture.  While working at the start-up, an executive search firm called her about an executive role at a billion-dollar software company.  She listened and ultimately chose to leave her start-up for an opportunity that was too good to pass up, taking the CMO position at 39.

Even though she was already at a good job at her own start-up where she was having success, she still took the time to take a short phone call from a recruiter—and was rewarded with a CMO seat.

Since she owed much of her success to opportunities brought to her by marketing recruiters, she made a personal policy to always hear them out. She understood that a minor investment of time could bring an even better opportunity when she least expected it. Her patience and commitment to this policy paid off big.

Climbing the Ladder

Why You Should Answer Marketing Recruiter Calls

Most marketers slowly work their way up departments and agencies over the course of a lifetime, patiently waiting in line for their turn to climb the next rung.

But this might not be necessary for exceptional marketers with a knack for their niche, an aptitude for leadership and a ceaseless drive to improve themselves and conquer new challenges. High-level marketing recruiters offer an alternative route that will bring you closer to your ultimate career goals without having to sit and wait in less fulfilling jobs for your turn.

It’s not a shortcut; it’s a fast lane to get you to your destination at the speed of your ability instead of the speed of your business.

Are you good enough to be a high-level marketer? Do you belong in an upper management position or a seat of senior subject matter expertise? If so, why aren’t you there now? Are you listening when you get the call from a top marketing recruiter?

Great companies are actively looking for talented marketers who can revive stagnant departments, navigate an ever more rapidly changing marketing environment, and deliver results in a jungle of corporate politics and bureaucracy. They need people who can nimbly step in to lead and speak with authority. And the companies who realize the best talent is not looking for a new job use a marketing recruiter to identify and bring in the best people.

Use the Right Marketing Recruiter

Our 39 year old CMO had a policy of listening to all recruiters who contacted her—but she only took a select few seriously. There were two qualifications a recruiter had to have before she would genuinely consider an opportunity—and you should be similarly selective.

1. Retained vs. Contingency

The first question she would ask of the recruiter was whether they were retained or contingent. She was only interested in retained recruiters so she could be assured that:

  1. She was working with a recruiter who had a real relationship with their client and would be the only firm partnering with them.
  2. The recruiter could be transparent about role and client details.
  3. The client had already invested in the search so it was unlikely to be cancelled.

2. Specialized vs. General

She is always sure to ask inquiring recruiters about their agency specialization. Our candidate was presented with such great opportunities in part because she partnered with a recruiter that specialized in marketing jobs. Because we’re former marketers ourselves, we were able to connect with her and communicate in a way that few others could.  Ultimately she wanted assurance that the person she was working with to make a potential career transition knew enough about the space to give her the right guidance.

3. Pick up the Phone

If you’re turning down phone calls and ignoring emails from a reputable retained marketing recruiter, you’re doing yourself and your future a disservice. Whether you’re a talented individual working your first junior position or a veteran marketing manager, it’s never too early or too late to get a little help. A few minutes are all it takes to hear about an opportunity that could propel your career forward and change your life.

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