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Hiring Process: The Unicorn Theory

Marketing teams have been re-orged and RIF’ed, some of them multiple times over the past few years. As the tide rises – slowly but it is rising – As the hiring process becomes more competitive, the Unicorn Theory goes into effect when managers seek for higher qualified and more experienced workers.companies are approving headcount additions to their marketing teams. Good news. Unfortunately, the hiring managers are hesitant to pull the trigger and expectations during the hiring process are higher than ever.

The Unicorn Theory

I’ve consulted with a number of CMOs over the past couple of quarters on how to get the most out of their precious few hires during the hiring process.

The conversation usually starts out with the CMO trying to prioritize to get all the skills and capabilities from three hires that are approved when he really needs seven people to get everything done.

For example, they may have a position approved with a list of hiring expectations that looks like this:

  • 12 years mobile, ecommerce experience (one of my absolute favorites).
  • 10 years in consumer goods marketing with expertise in channel development with major retailers.
  • Brand planning expertise with products for the baby boomer demographic.
  • Social and digital media expertise for new product launch in the infant care category with significant experience managing a co-branded product launch.
  • 5-7 years managing a global PR campaign.
  • One horn protruding no less than 12” from the middle of the forehead.

This is the Unicorn Theory. I know CMOs and marketing folks fancy themselves able to solve difficult problems, but no matter what the impact of the recent economy, it hasn’t changed the rules of common sense. Unfortunately, high hiring expectations, the apprehension about making the wrong hire and the hope that this person exists is drastically impacting the length of our jobs recovery and why hiring managers will pass over great candidates.

Prioritize for the Position

To combat the Unicorn Theory you have to start early on in the interview process. Work very hard at uncovering what the priorities are for the job. These will vary based on who you ask during the interview process.

Assess their Influence

Not only do you have to prioritize for the position but also you have to assess the influence of the person you are asking. For example, if the CEO ranks ”Brand planning expertise with products for the baby boomer demographic” as #1 and the junior team member ranks it as #6, you can estimate where it sits on the overall list.

Consulting your Employer

If you make uncovering the ”experience priorities” part of your interview process from the very first contact and all of your research you may be able to coach and consult your potential new employer in the direction of your strengths during the hiring process. At the very least it will allow you to self-select out if you don’t fit so you can focus your time on higher potential opportunities.

About Matt Gill

Matt Gill is the Managing Partner at MICA Consulting Group, a consulting and recruiting firm connecting people in Marketing, Interactive, Creative, and Advertising. He is a marketing recruiter across industries. If you think he can help with your job search, connect with him through the email, Twitter, or company links below.

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