How today's leading CMOs find, interview, hire and train world-class marketing teams

Matt Heinz

If you want an hour to FLY by, ask a bunch of chief marketing offers to talk about recruiting, hiring and onboarding for their teams. Last Friday's CMO Coffee Talk featured a wide-ranging discussion on everything from real-time salary ranges, remote vs back-to-office vs hybrid environments, to interview strategies and training/professional development investments.

Check out our video recap featuring six key takeaways from the sessions, and below you'll find many more nuggets of wisdom from those who participated.

If you are a B2B CMO or head of marketing and want to join this amazing community (weekly Friday morning Zoom calls + a robust Slack channel), let me know!

First few snippets from Friday's chat highlights give you a taste of what existing participants say about the group:

I just want to say (again) how important this community is to me. I've learned a ton from this group. So thank you and welcome to the new people!

I'm a first-time head of marketing and this group has saved me - given me confidence and helped me feel not alone. Thank you!

This group makes me feel like "one of the cool kids" Thank you!

Just did some analysis and identified that 43% of my team was hired during the pandemic and have never met anyone in 3D.

I started in the pandemic and we’ve turned over >50% of the team. Interesting dynamic.

100% of my team were hired during the pandemic and never met anyone. We scaled from 1 to 18 people during the pandemic.

How you progress those people you’ve trained up (defined paths) also impacts how long they stay.

I also feel that Marketing has gone from a 4P function to a 1P function - promotion… This means that people don’t get a foundational framework of business acumen and real customer empathy as they don’t understand the problem we are trying to solve.

It has become almost impossible to backfill roles for equivalent comp to the outgoing employee. Makes managing a budget tricky, to say the least.

Don't always need the 'rockstars', they tend to come with ego and drama....search for the session musicians instead.

I’m hiring more Jr level team members and have beefed up our marketing playbooks for training . A little more challenging with remote though.

PMM is the core of messaging and GTM. What does this say about state of the market and skills gaps? So many companies struggle with strong value props and the people with those skills are few and far between. “You can’t go get a degree in PMM"

I am curious about the connection between the "short tenure of a CMO" and the hot recruiting market for marketers. Is the churn at the top contributing to more recruiting challenges?

The new professionals need office and exposure to more SR folks. SR folks wanna stay home.

All my new team member get to do 30, 60, 90 plans. So they know where they should be on their path to success.

Our most junior folks struggle a lot and always want ‘to be more strategic’ but aren’t getting the basics done — a lot of tension about doing the actual work to build the skills.

I’ve seen some companies offer big dollars for training with a clawback of folks leave before a certain timeframe.

My favorite quote: an interview is a great conversation between two liars.

I like scorecards—short list of top competencies and top skills needed. Then tell each member of the interview panel what to focus on so they don’t all ask the same questions. They are asked to rate on their focus areas.

+1 on scorecard. I would add company values into that list of competencies and skills.

Documenting interview questions across the interview panel before posting the job is a winner winner chicken dinner play! Assigning roles (good cop, challenger, disrupter) for panel interviews is also key.

I always asked what the learned in the last 12 months that changed their approach to work. Learning is critical.

My interviews are 90% what questions can I answer for you. You learn a ton about them by seeing what questions they ask and how you jointly discuss the back and forth of the answers.

A slightly less difficult version of roles in the interview panel is that we have four company values we hire for — and there is a bit of a rubric for each — each person is seeking clarity on one of the four and talks through those on the huddle (there are a bank of suggested questions).

Back channel reference checks allow you to ask the real questions you need to answer. What culture is that person coming from. What will the person bring that isn’t obvious in interviews etc.

I am expanding my team and norming and forming is hard when everyone is remote.

“What if we train them and they leave?” “what if we DON’T train them and they stay?”

The tenure thing is really amazing to me. I am consistently seeing people who move jobs yearly. Are others seeing this?

Lots of research about millennials and gen z valuing culture, values over comp. Comp still important but not as much as those.

Benchmark before you go to market with a role - not when you get to an offer.

We’re already spread across multiple audiences, so the idea of “remote” is kind of arbitrary. Our team is already not in one office. Offices have the infrastructure to make remote attendees easy (video conference screens, etc.). Once we’re back in the office and traveling, we’ll bring people together in person, etc. We also do remote team building events. I think it’s long term sustainable.

Even simple things like ‘how do you show up, physically in a mtg? What does professional body language look like? How do you take up space in the room?’ Those are critical things junior people need to and want to learn and can only happen in person with senior people present.

Just this week, we've instituted a no meeting Friday once a month to ensure we have the time to execute.

First week of every quarter is meeting free week. No recurring internal meetings allowed. Customer meetings and ad hoc are fine.

Hiring remotely has also helped ENORMOUSLY with our DEI efforts to build more diverse teams and more inclusive workplaces.

GitLab’s handbook is a good onboarding manual for remote employees (they grew up remote). https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/

And all the younger generation openly talks about their pay so they know their worth and how much someone else will pay for them At times it feels like they have more market info than HR.

Although the market is hot, what’s been interesting in recruiting in recent weeks is hearing so many stories of employees just not being happy in their current companies, being treated badly, poorly managed etc. It’s easy to forget the importance of culture and that people will make decisions that are not only driven by salary.

Gary Vee says "hire fast, fire faster, promote fastest"

In my experience many people are NOT good interviewers and also are not good at providing feedback that the process needs.

We assign four roles for interviewers: Competence (analytical thinking), Domain experience (relevant role knowledge), Leadership, Behavior/culture.  Every interviewer is assigned to one of these. They have to report back on that topic and if they think the person has the specific fit.

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