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June 22, 2015
Inherent Skills to Find in Your Next Marketing Hire

As a veteran marketing agency executive, I set fairly high standards for new hires. As the leader of the account management and strategy department at Esparza, I work hard to ensure my team is equipped to handle day-to-day client activities as well as strategic planning tasks. Frankly, it isn’t always easy to find people that can handle these two skills equally well (especially in a small market like Albuquerque).


I recently had the opportunity to recruit and hire a new account executive. I was looking for someone with a marketing background with a few years of relevant working experience. I met with several smart and talented people, but one woman stood out from the others. It was a subtle difference, but each person that interviewed her knew she was the one we should hire. Upon further reflection, it became clear why she was the right choice.

It was because she was a student athlete – with a high grade point average – in college. As a former (mediocre) college athlete, I knew the skills required to do well in school, have a decent social life and be part of a competitive team. These aren’t skills that you can easily teach someone. They are intrinsic to their character, which means I could spend my time training her to be great marketing executive and not worry as much about the “softer” stuff.


Student athletes aren’t the only type of people with these abilities. Anyone that successfully participates in other types of extracurricular activities during college can also do the following seven things that make for great marketing executives:

  • Manage their time effectively:  understand how to prioritize a multitude of tasks in order to complete them in a timely and efficient manner.  

  • Stay organized:  carefully maintain a system for managing thoughts, assignments, responsibilities and people.

  • Be competitive, but friendly:  have the desire to be the best at what you do, but not by stepping on other people – by working hard to make yourself better.

  • Accept defeat and recover quickly:  realize that things don’t (and won’t) always go your way, and be able to move on to the next task taking the lessons-learned with you.

  • Be coachable:  accept that you don’t know everything or have all the answers, and allow peers and mentors to teach/show you how to be better at your job.

  • Play well with others:  be personable and diplomatic so you can have productive working relationships with a variety of personality types.

  • Have ambition:  rely on self-motivation to set and accomplish lofty goals, do great work every single day and encourage others to follow your lead.


I’m sure there are more than these seven skills that successful student athletes (and the like) possess. To me, these rise to the top as the most important inherent talents to identify in your next marketing hire.


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Emily K. Howarda marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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