The resume is a vital resource for any hiring manager or marketing recruiter. But it can be as misleading as it is helpful. Resumes are supposed to be a summary of one’s professional skills and accomplishments—but they can misrepresent their owner as well.
Most resumes are carefully manicured to show the marketer in the best light possible—and understandably so. But even when they’re created honestly with no intent to mislead, they don’t show the whole picture. When it comes to your marketing, you can’t afford to hire the wrong person.
A marketing hire’s success is based not just on their raw capabilities, but a myriad of “intangible” characteristics that are difficult to express on paper. Whether it’s a temporary marketing contractor or your next CMO, Here are some of the most important things a resume can’t tell you—and how to find them out.
Just because someone was put in charge of others doesn’t mean they’re a leader. Management experience is always valuable for marketers of all kinds, but leadership goes above and beyond the relatively simple duties of management. Leaders set examples, inspire those around them, forecast the future and push themselves and others to grow. These are invaluable traits and can exist even in people without direct experience as a boss. But you’ll never understand someone’s ability as a leader from a short list of past experience.
2. Red Flags
Applicants are unlikely to mention less savory aspects of their past in their resume: financial irresponsibility, conflicts with coworkers, a general bad attitude, run-ins with the law. But these aspects of their past could significantly affect their qualification for your job.
3. Business Presence
Most employers want a certain level of conformation to common standards of modern business sense in their marketers. A sharp, modern, coherent resume could be crafted by a socially oblivious, unprofessional marketer—and vice versa. Even in a casual work environment, you want to know that your marketers can clean themselves up and represent your organization well at sales pitches, networking events, client meetings, and the like. A resume doesn’t necessarily reflect a candidate’s sophistication, confidence, poise and communication skills that you look for in a business professional.
Gumption, tenacity—whatever you want to call it, many employers want it. If you’ve ever worked with someone with this special kind of fearless drive and uncanny ability to make difficult things happen, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a great attribute to have in the complex and rapidly evolving world of marketing, but it’s impossible to identify in people without digging deeper than a resume.
How to Read between the Lines
These are obviously things you need to know about your future marketer; but how can you find them out? There are several resources you can turn to for vital insights:
- Interviews: Many organizations rely on interviews to clear up any uncertainty following a resume, probably too much. Interviews are certainly a useful tool for identifying certain qualities, but aren’t a completely honest picture. Like resumes, most candidates will carefully prepare themselves to portray the best possible image. Smart interviewers will (reasonably so) be on their best behavior, dress their best and steer conversations in ways that depict them favorably.
- Background checks: A thorough background check can reveal a lot about a person’s character and potential risks involved with hiring them. A concerning financial or criminal history isn’t always justification to dismiss someone from consideration, but it’s smart to arm yourself with that information and plan accordingly. If you rely on contract staffing, avoid marketing staffing agencies that don’t check their employees.
- Reference checks: Following up with references is often the only way to verify the claims made on a resume and get insight into what a candidate was like to work with on a daily basis. Unless your applicant was markedly awful, most references will generally say positive things and keep criticisms to themselves. As busy as everyone is, contacting everyone on a reference list can be a daunting and time consuming task. But for marketing positions that really matter, the extra insight can be worth the effort.
- Web properties: Almost everyone now has multiple presences online that offer windows into their personality and capabilities. Online portfolios, LinkedIn profiles, personal websites, blogs, and social media accounts can all provide unique insights on your candidate, some more obvious than others. It’s important to check as many public properties as possible to start pulling together pieces of a puzzle. Maybe your rock star applicant with the impeccable portfolio is a total jerk on Twitter or keeps a personal blog about underground lizardpeople conspiracies. Definitely things you’d want to know before making a decision.
- Marketing recruiters: If you don’t look for and hire marketers on a regular basis, you might not be able to immediately pick up on the subtle nuances that signal an exceptional marketer. You might also not have time to conduct extensive interviews, dig into histories, and prowl the web for essential insights. But marketing recruiters do; all day, every day. So if you need the capability to really look beyond a resume, consider partnering with someone who does it for a living.