Growing your pay-per-click advertising team this year? Chances are, finding great candidates won’t be easy.
More than half of all marketing hires in 2017 will be for online marketing roles, according to a recent study by staffing firm McKinley Marketing Partners. Highest in demand: digital advertisers.
With need expected to far exceed supply, you may end up hiring an applicant for their very first job in digital marketing. So how do you identify promising PPC talent amongst a pool of inexperienced candidates?
Advice from a Marketer who has Hired 70+ PPC and SEO Professionals
Over his 20-year marketing career, Dave Beltramini has overseen or directly hired over 70 PPC and SEO professionals at Fortune 500, tech startup, and digital marketing companies. Dave explains what he looks for to identify exceptional future digital marketing professionals.
Would you consider hiring an applicant without digital advertising experience for a PPC role?
Absolutely. People that come in fresh have a different perspective. That is almost universally good. Additionally, there can be budget constraints when building a team. You may not be able to afford hiring a team of seasoned vets.
What is the minimum amount of professional or educational experience you require candidates to possess?
If an applicant has no experience then I look for a college degree. The degree doesn’t have to be in a business field. Math majors, journalism majors, and English majors make good team members. But, I wouldn't rule out applicants with any degree. If they have demonstrable PPC experience, a degree is not a necessity (but it helps).
What hard skills do you look for when evaluating a candidate?
You should be looking for an aptitude or interest in using numbers. If you are hiring for a higher-level PPC position there are skills that the candidate should have already mastered, certifications (Adwords, Bing), etc.
Have applicants used software programs in school or other positions? Many people say they are Excel “experts.” When you ask them how to use a pivot table they have no idea what a pivot table is.
What are some soft skills you look for when evaluating a candidate?
Soft skills differentiate a successful team member from a good technician. Communication. Teamwork. Problem solving abilities. Two skills I also look for are flexibility and motivation. Flexibility is big because the work changes often. A person who can’t adapt can drag the whole team down. If you are building a team, you need the team to be strong in as many areas as possible not just in one particular area.
A motivated mindset makes a huge difference between success (or not) in PPC. It is the self-motivation to be constantly better tomorrow than you were today. That is hard to get at with any single question.
If they have played sports at a high level or if their passion is running, for example, then you have a thread you can pursue. I start to drive a conversation around how they get better, how they learn, do they have a plan to get better, how did they come up with that plan. If they can articulate that and are enthusiastic, then you know they have motivation to improve. It’s not just sports though. People have successfully executed plans to get better at singing or even baking.
What are some of your favorite interview questions that help identify great candidates?
There are a few I like:
- Assume everything goes well and you come in on Monday to start your job. I greet you first thing and then tell you I have to go out of town for two weeks. How are you going to learn your job?
- How do you tell a client they are wrong? How do you tell the CEO he/she is wrong?
- The pirate question - The employee who originally asked this at our company left, but we continued to ask this question for a few more years. One person actually told me they were prepared because they heard it would be asked.
Are there any tools or software that a person must know to get a job?
Excel is the only absolute.
Do you recommend or require candidates complete certification courses before applying?
I am somewhat skeptical of many of the third party non-Google certifications. Are they more beneficial for the certifier or the person receiving the certification? But, certifications show commitment and initiative, so there is benefit in that regard.
On the flip side, any suggestions, recommendations, or advice to applicants looking to enter into the digital advertising field?
Show a side of you that is passionate about something. Show you know how to plan. Demonstrate your ability to learn on your own/from others and to share what you have learned.
For a hiring manager, the idea of placing thousands or millions of dollars of ad spend and important client relationships in the hands of an untested, inexperienced employee can be downright scary. But that doesn't mean you can't find standout PPC talent in an applicant looking for their first digital advertising job so long as you know what to look for in the interview.
Find candidates that are enthusiastic about numbers and analysis, have a self-improvement mindset, and take the initiative to execute on their plans and goals. And of course, knowing Excel can't hurt!