Demystify a Job Before You Hire For It

Mystification is the root of all kinds of evil when it comes to hiring.

Say you’re building a marketing team from scratch. Say you also need to hire people who can do event marketing, partner marketing, email marketing, digital marketing, content marketing, AND public relations – all key functions. Who you hire for these positions could determine the shape and culture of the department for years to come.

No pressure or anything.

There are two ways you could go about this.

In the first way, you could let yourself be intimidated by the prospect of hiring for positions which you have never filled. Take event marketing, for instance.

You have never run a full trade-show buildup, floor presence, and event followup campaign from start to finish. So it’s safe to say you would be easily impressed by someone who projects expertise here. A candidate could name-drop some events on their resume and mouth some common event marketing wisdom/jargon, and you might be too mystified to ask the hard questions.

I’ve been there, too. It’s like being a participant in the Milgram experiment. The expert in the white coat comes in and tells you to do something, so you do it (or hire said white-coated expert). The problem is that you might regret it later once the mystique of expertise wears off.

You’d probably like to avoid that fate.

There is another way to hire wisely for these positions.

As you go without people to staff those positions, you and your colleagues should step up and run events yourselves. While these brief interim experiences won’t make you experts in event marketing, you will succeed in finding out at least the basics.

Now you’ll know some of what it takes to execute a successful marketing event presence. Now you’ll know the 80/20 breakdown of the efforts that get results. Now you’ll know the different ways to take advantage of conference networking and tabling. Now we see how an event can create social media and content opportunities.

Now we can have intelligent conversation (as peers with at least *some* shared experience) with the candidates we interview for this role. Now we’re more curious than ever about event marketing. We have questions of our own to ask. And we know a bit better what’s BS and what’s real.

The meta lesson I think we’re learning? The best way to know how to hire for something is to do it yourself, at least for a while. We’re getting good enough to participate so we can be good enough to know how to hire and onboard right.

Give it a try. You don’t have to become an expert. Every foot of ground you gain against ignorance will put you on better footing for making the right choice of hires.


James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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