Top Skills for a Marketing Hire

John Doherty
6 min readSep 9, 2021

Hiring someone for any department is a huge challenge to employers today. Not only is technology moving more quickly than ever before, but the ongoing global pandemic can also make integrating new teammates feel impossible.

Remote work may be the new norm across many different fields, but it’s only one component of what’s required for someone to be successful in marketing.

Understanding the desires and preferences of modern buyers takes several critical skills. In this blog post, we’ll dive into several of them, ending with a few tips to attract these kinds of candidates.

Technical Marketing Skills

A technical skill can be loosely defined as a specialized ability to perform a specific professional task. In the modern web-based workforce, we often equate technical skills with developers who use programming languages.

But there are lots of other kinds of technical skills that can be valuable in all sorts of different marketing campaigns, depending on your industry and ideal audience.

Visual design

So many of the most important elements in modern marketing today include visual elements. Think about social media posts from your favorite brand or an ecommerce website you enjoy shopping on frequently.

What makes them so engaging? At least part of the answer to that question probably involves visual elements. From a catchy brand logo to a slick, intuitive website, visual design is one of the most critical skills for any marketing department.

The importance of design is nothing new in marketing, of course. Designers have been critical to the promotion of products and services dating back to the “Mad Men” era of the ’50s and ’60s — and even before that.

The difference between then and now is the tools used in the craft. Today’s graphic designers are usually fluent in software tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and CorelDraw. Canva is an excellent option for beginner and mid-level designers who don’t have specialized training, though an advanced designer will typically have requirements beyond its relatively basic capabilities.

A final point to remember is that there are certain segments of visual design that vary depending on the specific design needs. For example, certain designers are experts at website and logo design. Others are specialists at creating style guides, which define how a brand uses fonts and colors across its entire digital presence.

Search engine optimization

Commonly known as “SEO,” search engine optimization is the process by which a website increases its ranking on search results pages. Statistics show that websites that appear on the first results page receive a much larger percentage of views and clicks.

SEO as a technical skill isn’t as well-defined as something like coding or design. Since a large portion of SEO best practices involve content, you’ll often find SEO experts are skilled writers as well.

However, there is also a technical component of search engine optimization that requires some light coding work and a good understanding of how web hosts work. Technical SEO specialists are in high demand these days for marketing campaigns across all industries and verticals.

Coding / development

As mentioned in the intro, programming or coding is a highly valued technical skill in many digital fields, but especially marketing. The specific type of coding required varies depending on the company and its ideal customers, but web development using PHP is among the most common.

Other top programming languages to look for include JavaScript and Python. These are typically more application-based languages, but the nature of cloud computing today means more and more applications are moving to the internet.

Finally, companies that work with mobile marketing and applications may want to seek out a developer that knows Swift, the native programming language for iOS devices like iPhones and iPads.

Even though development likely isn’t a primary function of your marketing team, coding skills may be viewed as something of an “additional bonus” in a hire whose main task is something else.

Non-technical marketing skills

Specific skills are very important as a marketer. But there is a good argument to be made that having non-technical or “soft” skills may actually be more important for a marketing hire.

There is a good argument to be made that having non-technical or “soft” skills may actually be more important for a marketing hire. Click To Tweet

After all, marketing at its core is simply about connecting with prospects and customers. And at the end of the day, those prospects and customers are just people. Anyone who understands people and how to communicate with them can generally be successful, provided they have the drive and desire to do so.

Good communicator

Knowing how to communicate with people is important in any professional department, but especially in a field like marketing. When you boil it down, marketing is essentially just communicating with people in a way that gets them interested in your products and services.

Anyone who inherently understands how to talk to people — whether it’s over the phone, via email, or on a video chat — has the raw fundamentals to be a successful marketer. What’s more, unlike the technical skills mentioned in the first section, communication is generally tough to teach.

It’s certainly possible to improve communication skills, but many people are somewhat stuck in their ways when it comes to this particular ability.

Self-motivated

Marketing is a dynamic field. The tasks you work on in a given month, week or even day might change completely in a short amount of time. In some cases — especially at a smaller, more agile company — employees may not be able to get specific instructions on what needs to be done every day.

That’s why the best marketing employees are self-motivated. These kinds of team members don’t need to be told what to do all the time, especially after they’ve been working at your company for a while. With the right employee, you can provide them a bit of instruction and they’ll be able to do the rest.

Even better, many self-motivated employees will eventually come up with their own ideas that can make significant improvements to the operation of the company.

Entrepreneurial mindset

More than any other department of the company except possibly sales, marketing is like running a business within a business. Marketing professionals are responsible for the activity that generates leads which eventually should translate into sales. Business owners expect to see revenue back from the money they invest into marketing campaigns.

Hence, a skilled marketer should understand how to return the most revenue for the smallest amount of investment of time and energy. They should use creativity, resourcefulness and expert knowledge to innovate within a company.

There’s even a specific term for people who apply a business owner mindset to the constraints of an existing company: intrapreneurs. These employees are ideal for marketing departments that are closely monitored to ensure they are bringing back a sufficient return on investment (ROI).

Strategic mindset

While varying levels of hires need different skills and will have different levels of experience, when hiring for marketing it’s important to look for a strategic mindset over a tactical mindset.

While a tactical brain is useful for individual contributors, tactics without an eye towards the overall strategy are a waste of time and end up being extremely frustrating to marketing leaders.

Thus, even if the marketing hire is junior, it’s useful for them to have a general understanding of business and marketing and how what they are doing and asking to work on maps towards greater company growth.

Final thoughts on seeking out a skilled marketing hire

Remember, knowing what to look for in a marketing hire is only half the battle. You still have to seek them out by going through a full hiring process, which often requires crafting a job listing that clearly communicates these and other skills you are looking for.

Credo can connect you with our network of vetted digital marketing providers who have deep experience across the most common digital marketing disciplines like SEO, Facebook, and more. Whether you’re looking to improve your SEO rankings or develop a comprehensive content strategy, we can match you with the right providers for your needs.
If you’re ready to shorten the amount of time it takes you to bring on the marketing team you need for consistent growth, schedule a free consultation with us today to learn how to get started.

Originally published at https://www.getcredo.com on September 9, 2021.

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John Doherty

Founder & CEO of Credo (getcredo.com). Veteran digital marketer in Denver. Entrepreneur. Traveler. Skier. Other sites: johnfdoherty.com and singlegeared.com