I currently work with a lot of smart people and have been blessed with having worked with many intelligent people throughout my career. I’ve learned a lot about marketing, about business, about life, and about myself from bosses and support staff alike (and continue to do so). At McKee Wallwork & Company — like any professional services business — we strive to attract the best and brightest talent, which is not always easy to do in a small market like Albuquerque. Thankfully, our current team is one of the strongest we’ve had in our 16-year history. However, we have also experienced a few bad apples along the way.
As we prepare to grow over the next few years we need to be thinking about not only what roles we will need to fill, but also what types of people we will need to hire. As work at a marketing agency like ours continues to be more and more collaborative (both internally and externally), there are certain professional skills and personality traits that I believe will be the best fit for this evolving way of doing business.
Upon reflection, I realized why hiring good people at our firm is so tough. The standards by which we measure potential candidates are so tough — by design. As we prepare ourselves to find new members over the coming months, I thought it might be helpful to make a list now of the required soft skills (be they spoken or unspoken) that we would love each new, entry-level candidate to have:
Assertive — confident and willing to speak up or speak out
Based in reality — grounded; level-headed
Classy — sophisticated
Dependable — reliable and trustworthy
Energetic — lively and excited to be “in the room”
Flexible — agile and willing to bend
Genuine — real and sincere
Hungry — ambitious; wanting more
Intuitive — able to make good decisions based on gut reactions
Jovial — fun to be around
Kind — caring and thoughtful
Lead-able – willing to learn new things and be taught
Makes decisions quickly — doesn’t take too long to ponder something
Neat — organized
Open-minded — willing to accept others’ ideas and suggestions
Polished — professional
Qualified — able to meet job requirements
Resourceful — industrious and inventive; able to discover new ways to do things
Smart — intelligent and clever
Tamed — under control and disciplined
Unflappable — calm and composed
Vulnerable — willing to be exposed
Well-rounded — has a variety of life experiences
eXcellent — outstanding
Young at heart — ambitious and curious about the world around them
Zealous — passionate
After reviewing this list, I would love to know your thoughts. Is this list too stringent? Is it too lenient? Did I leave something obvious off of the list? Is it even possible to find an entry-level person that has these skills or has the potential to develop these skills?
These are just the “soft” skills — the ones that you won’t find on a résumé or may not discover in rounds of interviews. These are traits that are discovered after working with someone for a bit of time. This opens a whole new can of worms — how do you really get to know a potential candidate before you hire them to work for you? That could be the subject of another article down the road…
Emily K. Howard, a 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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