How to Hire a CMO

How to Hire

Last updated on June 3rd, 2022

Deciding to hire your first (or next) Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a critical time for your organization. The right marketing executive can drive growth to new heights.  In this candidate-driven job market, it’s worth preparing to give yourself the best chance of landing the right fit.

Step 1: Work With an Executive Search Firm

This is a blog hosted by an Executive Search Firm so, of course, we want to make sure you know the benefits of working with one. Hiring an effective executive is exceptionally difficult. Successful marketing leaders typically have demanding careers. You cannot count on them visiting career websites or LinkedIn posts to discover your company’s position. 

Get external support instead of passively waiting for aspiring CMOs to come to your door. An executive search firm can save you considerable time in hiring. Instead of meeting with 10 or 20 candidates, you’ll meet with only those genuinely qualified candidates for a CMO role.

Step 2: Get Clear On Your Goal

Why exactly do you want to hire a Chief Marketing Officer at your company? There are two scenarios: you have a CMO vacancy or the creation of a new CMO role.

With a vacancy, you have a clear idea of the role and may have a job description. That said, hiring a new CMO is an opportunity to take a leap forward in your approach to marketing. 

You might have major marketing problems like a disconnect between sales and marketing for the CMO to solve. It’s essential to be clear that the CMO will be accountable for solving these problems. It’s not enough to look for a CMO candidate with collaboration skills. You need to find a CMO who can build bridges while honoring your company culture.

Companies creating a CMO position for the first time have plenty of choices. Are you looking for a CMO to build out an entire marketing team and an array of agencies and consultants? Or are you developing a go-to-market strategy for a brand new product? Getting clarity on the CMO’s significant picture objectives is foundational to finding the right candidate for your organization.

Step 3: Create (or Update) Your CMO Job Description

The next step in the CMO hiring process is to create a job description for the role. This role should be comprehensive – covering people management, essential marketing KPIs and other responsibilities. If you expect the CMO to lead a major new initiative (e.g., “support our new sales team in the UK”), reference that reality.

If your job descriptions haven’t been refreshed in a few years, there’s one more critical area to revisit. PwC research has found that over 80% of companies consider their shift to remote work successful. Therefore, the job description should include details on how your company will offer greater flexibility (e.g., a hybrid model of in-office and remote work). Also, you should consider updating your job description to reflect the fact that the CMO will need to manage remote or hybrid employees.

For organizations that have had CMOs in the past, update your job description to reflect marketing realities in the 2020s. If you are unsure what to add or remove from the job description, seeking external advice (see step 4) can be very helpful.

Step 4: Use a Practical Case Study During Hiring

Once you have a shortlist of three candidates, there is one more critical step: a practical case study. The best way to find out if a candidate can solve the problems currently facing your organization is to ask them for examples of where and how they have done it before. 

In product marketing, a case study takes a customer success story and explores how they utilized a product to help them achieve their business goals. In this exercise, the customer success story would be the candidate’s past work experience. 

Give the candidates the problems you need them to solve and then ask them for the case study version of how they have solved these problems before. 

Help the candidates by preparing a short dossier of information such as the following.

  • Overview

Give the candidate a short overview of your company focusing on marketing. Providing copies of customer case studies and critical customer personas will be  particularly helpful.

  • Marketing channel overview

Give the candidate a listing of your current marketing assets, such as conferences your company has attended in the past year, websites, social media accounts, and other prominent marketing initiatives.

  • Marketing constraints

A CMO has to find success with your company’s current marketing resources. Advise them on your current marketing budget, employees, and external resources. 

When evaluating these cases, make sure to pay attention to the level of detail provided and the passion with which it is communicated. Storytelling is key – after all, you are looking for a great marketer!

The Best Way To Find An Exceptional Marketing Executive 

Few companies have the experience of regularly hiring new CMOs. When you hire for this role infrequently, it’s challenging to know the best approach. CONTACT APEX today to discuss your CMO hiring plans to gain an edge. You can get insights into your job description, compensation plans, and support to attract the right marketing leader.

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