Top Marketing Headhunters: Promoting vs Hiring Your Next Leader
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So you’ve created a new marketing executive position within your organization, or an existing seat was recently vacated by a previous employee. Regardless, you have a critical open position within your organization, and you need to fill it fast.

In today’s fast-paced marketing world, you can’t afford to have key leadership spots left empty. Every day without that critical guidance is a day of missed potential ROI. So when the time comes, will you hire a new person to your business with the help of a top marketing executive headhunter, or promote a current employee into the position?

There are a lot of obvious advantages to promoting from within:

  • The individual you choose will already have a strong grasp of your business, brand, and market. They know the people, the processes, and products. Onboarding time will me minimal, and their experience will give them insights into making strategic decisions that would be impossible to have any other way.
  • It’s a fast, easy solution. Choosing a marketing leader is never a decision that should be made hastily or taken lightly. But given the pace of today’s fast-paced business environment, some businesses might find that simply promoting a qualified individual is more attractive than growing through a prolonged recruitment, interview, and hiring process.
  • Built-in authority. Any time a new executive joins a business, there’s always a period of time where that leader has to earn the respect, rapport and buy in of their subordinates and peers. Until they’ve established that authority, they’ll never be truly effective. If you hire from within, your candidate will (hopefully) have already earned the respect of others in the organization and have a lower barrier to success.
  • Promoting hard working, high-performing team members sets a standard for the rest of your team. It shows that your organization rewards commitment and success, and that ambitious marketers in your organization have the definite potential to grow their career there.

However, there are some risks associated with promoting a current employee you need to consider.

  • Just because someone is “next in line” for a position doesn’t mean they’re actually professionally, mentally and emotionally equipped to take on the responsibility. If you promote a strong employee who is great at their current job but unprepared for the new one, you lose on two fronts. Not only do you find yourself with an ineffective marketing executive; you’ve also lost a top performer in the previous role.
  • When you hire from within, you’re likely to get “more of the same” in terms of leadership style, marketing strategy, and team focus. That’s alright if you’re on a steady path to long-term success. But hiring from within tends to mean fewer new ideas, less innovation, and a lack of fresh perspectives. It’s all too easy to get stuck in the mindset of “doing things the way they’ve always done,” which can be lethal to business.
  • No office is without some amount of politics, and ambitious marketers tend to have large (frequently sensitive) egos. Choosing the best candidate among a competitive group of peers can stir up a surprising amount of drama and resentment. Additionally, it’s very difficult for someone to move from a peer relationship to being the boss who has to hold everyone accountable. All these tensions can lower employee morale and affect the productivity of your marketing if not handled properly.

On the other hand, thoroughly weighing your external options with the help of a top marketing executive headhunter ensures that you select a marketer that’s definitely ready for the position. Bringing in a new personality from the outside minimizes jealousy and resentment among your current team. And an injection of new ideas and experience can keep your marketing sharp and prevent the organization from growing stagnant.

What You Need to Consider

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Say you have a vacant seat on your marketing executive team that needs top talent, and a promising team member with strong experience and good work ethic just a step or two down the org chart. Should you offer the open job to the high-performer?

Maybe. But first ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Are they still learning and growing? If you’re considering this candidate, it’s probably because they’ve impressed you with their hard work and great results. As recruiters for marketing positions, we’ve seen that it’s all too common for professionals to reach a point of success, then stop there. If you’re bringing someone into your leadership team, either for a higher-level position or their first time as an executive, you want someone who’s committed to being a “life-long learner” and continuously bettering themselves.
  2. Is your internal candidate prepared for the budget and management responsibilities? Are they mentally and professionally equipped to oversee a budget and team size that’s considerably larger than what they’ve dealt with before?
  3. Will making this promotion cause dissent among the department to a level that will disrupt operations? Answering this requires your senior management to have a lot of business empathy and really, truly understand the feelings and team dynamics of the marketing team. It might require some direct investigation. If you suspect that handing out a promotion will largely be seen as “picking a favorite,” it might not be worth the hassle.
  4. How easy will it be to bring in outside talent? If your organization is in a hot industry and is based in a location that’s a magnet to marketing talent, then making an external hire is a relatively good option. However, most of the best candidates are likely to already be employed and you’ll probably need some help finding them. If that’s not the case and bringing in external talent will be very difficult, then promoting someone who’s already in your organization or working closely with top marketing executive headhunters will be better options.

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