• Mary K. Johnson

What do marketing leaders seek out in a candidate?

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Read on to find out what traits make up a talented marketing employee and what your next employer may be looking for!

I have managed a number of marketing teams in my tenure and I have learned what specific traits I seek out in employees and what skills help determine who thrives and who doesn’t. If you are thinking about a career in marketing, you may find this information useful.

Critical Thinking

When the general public thinks of marketing, creativity is usually the first thing that comes to mind. And yes being creative is an important attribute. But for me, I put a lot of emphasis on data. Data helps guide decisions, provides ideas and can help justify spend. Because of this, I find it critical to have team members who understand the data and can pull reports and interpret data. Not only that, I love it when they take it a step further and can identify patterns and discover new ideas by studying the data. For example, perhaps an employee makes a recommendation based on an email report to not send emails to an audience on Mondays because the open rate is very low. But a REALLY talented team member may take it a step further and discover that only Florida residents who have never made a purchase are the ones to avoid on Mondays. And then they also find out that those Florida residents end up making purchases if they send the email on Thursdays at 4pm. Not only did this employee improve our open rate stats, they found out how to increase revenues. I smell a raise!!

Know Your Discipline

I don’t have all the answers and I’m not always right. I enjoy having teams that aren’t afraid to challenge my ideas or expand upon them. I’ve hired you for a reason and it wasn’t to agree with me. This helps to ensure when it is decision time, the team is on the same page and presenting a unified front. A marketing team that is unhappy or doesn’t believe in the project will not be effective. Being able to collaborate, challenge each other and develop ideas is what makes a good marketing team, a great marketing team.

Not only do I not have all the answers, I don’t want to make all the decisions either. Employees who are confident and can speak on the entire team’s behalf or make their own decisions and calls regarding their individual domains is important. Most leaders don’t want to have to babysit or spend oodles of time approving all decisions. This can be exhausting and when leaders are spread too thin, they tend to begin making errors. Having reliable, dependable and knowledgeable employees is what every competent leader strives for.


Activity doesn't always mean productivity. If you are frequently staying late to finish up your work, how are you using and prioritizing your time? Granted everyone works differently and some just take longer than others to complete a project. But if you are a person who is repeatedly complaining that there aren't enough hours in the day or you need more people to support your role, I have to question how you manage your time. At the end of the day there is always more work that can be done and most likely you are going to be given more responsibility and more work without additional resources at some point in your career. Being an individual who can manage their time wisely and understands where to apply their focus is key. If you spend two hours on task A and it doesn't bring in any additional revenue and you neglect task B that does bring in revenue, you are clearly not making a smart decision.


Passion for the job shows and can be contagious. Employees who love their job and their craft generally excel above those who are miserable. Not only is passion important, but so is personality. Marketing requires personality and having team members that are easy to be around, tell jokes and if you are lucky, establish friendships with. We all have to spend tons of time with our colleagues so being able to let loose and laugh can help get anyone through the day. Marketing provides the perfect setup to have fun… every now and then we create fictional logos, laugh at stock photography or just grab a beer(s).

Does this sound like you?

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