Marketing leaders, spanning roles from Chief Marketing Officers, Vice Presidents of Marketing to Marketing Directors and Heads of Marketing, have significant influence in shaping brand strategies, driving customer engagement, and boosting revenue.

In this blog we take a look at the specific marketing recruitment challenges faced when hiring for these marketing leadership roles and what businesses looking to hire in at marketing leadership level can do to combat these challenges.

Need to recruit for your marketing leadership team? We are here to help you with this as specialist marketing recruiters, taking you through the process from shortlisting, to interview, to offer and onboarding.

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to a Chief Marketing Officer.

What makes a good marketing leader?

Effective marketing leaders possess a diverse set of skills and qualities, both hard and soft. Here are 15 key attributes that define a good marketing leader:

  1. Strategic vision: planning for the long term
  2. Decision making: using experience and data to support decisions
  3. Creative innovation: balancing data with creativity
  4. Compliance knowledge: understanding industry-specific regulations
  5. Trend awareness: staying ahead of industry trends
  6. ROI focus: Demonstrating ROI to the rest of the businesses
  7. Partnership building: excelling in forming industry partnerships
  8. Sector-specific expertise: tailoring strategies to the specific sector, including B2B / B2C
  9. Cross-functional collaboration: influencing and leading
  10. Adaptability: Leading amid market uncertainty is essential
  11. Continuous learning: investing in their career and their teams
  12. Talent development: tackling talent shortages, giving effective onboarding and development programmes.
  13. Workload: balancing workload and innovation

Read our blog to look at 10 essential traits of a Chief Marketing Officer

Marketing recruitment challenges for marketing leaders

Marketing recruitment challenges are commonly faced by businesses, and most often than not, this is why businesses require the help of a specialist marketing recruitment agency like us. Here are 7 challenges that we see when trying to make that critical hire for your marketing function.

Marketing recruitment challenge 1: Assessing digital transformation experience

Evaluating a candidate’s ability to lead digital transformation efforts is challenging in recruitment because it requires a deep understanding of emerging technologies, industry-specific digital trends, and the capability to align these with business objectives. Within SME businesses, the hiring manager may not have a marketing background or the marketing leadership abilities to make an effective determination of the candidates abilities in such a short space of time.

Marketing recruitment challenge 2: Identifying effective customer-centric leaders

Finding marketing leaders who can put customers at the centre of all strategies is difficult because it requires a range of skills and knowledge that are hard to assess at interview stage. To assess this correctly a candidate would need to have extensive detailed knowledge of the existing customer journey, access to customer data and understand how current marketing activity has been performing. A candidate will most likely only have top level detail at interview stage, and so this should be taken into account through the recruitment process.

Marketing recruitment challenge 3: Gauging crisis management skills

Identifying marketing leaders with strong crisis management skills is tough because it involves assessing their ability to respond to unexpected challenges, protect brand reputation, and adapt swiftly to changing market conditions. This is hard to do in an interview setting, however could be identified through role play or a case study presented to the marketing leader with little or no notice.

Marketing recruitment challenge 4: Ensuring ethical marketing practices

Hiring marketing leaders who prioritise ethical marketing practices is challenging because it necessitates a person with a strong commitment to transparency, compliance with evolving regulations, and a vigilant approach to avoiding misleading or harmful marketing strategies. Again, these qualities are hard to tangibly pick out during an interview process, only looking for past examples as a gauge on this one.

Marketing recruitment challenge 5: Recognising storytelling abilities

Evaluating a candidate’s storytelling capabilities is challenging because it involves assessing their ability to craft compelling narratives that resonate with audiences, connect emotionally, and drive engagement – this strategy often taking a while to formulate. Often candidates at this level, talk through previous storytelling campaigns and portfolios, demonstrating their work and thought processes behind each specific campaign.

Marketing recruitment challenge 6: Gauging SEO and content strategy expertise

Assessing candidates’ proficiency in SEO and content strategy is challenging in marketing recruitment because it involves a comprehensive grasp of search engine algorithms, content optimisation techniques, and the capability to drive organic traffic and conversions. Unless the hiring manager has specific skills in this very specialised and ever-changing marketing niche, assessing these skills is tough. Bringing in an niche expert, even at a junior level, would be a good idea.

Marketing recruitment challenge 7: Assessing remote team management skills

With the rise of remote and hybrid working, having an effective marketing leader that can lead teams located in different places is crucial. The question is, how do you assess this at interview stage or from a CV? The skills required here include communication, collaboration, and the ability to foster a positive culture. Interview questions and tasks around these themes, including role play, case studies and behavioural questions can help identify skill sets required to manage remote teams, without the need to see this in a real life scenario.

How to overcome the marketing recruitment challenges

To overcome these key 7 marketing recruitment challenges when aiming to recruit marketing leaders, businesses can implement the following strategies:

  1. Thorough skills assessment: Utilise skill-specific assessments and case studies to evaluate candidates’ abilities in digital transformation, crisis management, and other critical areas in marketing recruitment.
  2. Behavioural interviewing: Craft interview questions that assess candidates’ past experiences and behaviour, uncovering their customer-centric and ethical practices in marketing recruitment.
  3. Multidisciplinary interview panels: Involve cross-functional teams in the interview process in marketing recruitment to gauge candidates’ adaptability and collaborative skills.
  4. Utilise skill-specific metrics: Measure candidates’ SEO and content strategy expertise in marketing recruitment by analysing the impact of their previous campaigns.
  5. Scenario-based interviews: Present candidates with hypothetical scenarios in marketing leadership to evaluate their crisis management, agile leadership, and sustainability advocacy.
  6. Remote work simulation: Create remote work scenarios during the interview process in marketing recruitment to assess candidates’ remote team management skills.
  7. Ethical dilemma questions: Pose ethical dilemma questions to marketing leaders to assess candidates’ commitment to ethical marketing practices.
  8. Storytelling best practises: Ask candidates to discuss brands which do the job of storytelling well, and which need improvement. Ask them to discuss why they have picked these brands. This will help you to discover more about how they think, how they process information, and how customer centric they are.

By implementing these strategies against common marketing recruitment challenges, businesses can enhance their marketing recruitment processes, ensuring they identify and secure marketing leaders who possess the skills, values, and qualities necessary to drive success in today’s dynamic marketing landscape.

Need help hiring for your marketing leadership team? Contact us today.

Further marketing recruitment reading

Onboarding a new marketing hire

Marketing interview questions for senior candidates

Marketing Leadership Recruitment