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Stacy Willis

By Stacy Willis

Jul 3, 2018


IMPACT Live Hiring a Marketing Team
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IMPACT Live  |   Hiring a Marketing Team

How to Find, Recognize, & Hire High-Performing Marketers

Stacy Willis

By Stacy Willis

Jul 3, 2018

How to Find, Recognize, & Hire High-Performing Marketers

So, you want that perfect hire?

You are looking for an employee who is dedicated, a self-starter comes up with great ideas, meets deadlines, and still jives with your company culture.

Everyone has told you that you’re looking for a unicorn, right?

Well, everyone is wrong. What you’re looking for is a high-performing marketer.

My fantastically talented colleague, Britt, has already done a great job of explaining what high-performing marketers are and why they are an asset to any company, so if you need to be convinced just check out her blog.

There are a lot of marketing interview questions you should be asking -- 54, to be exact. But what I’m here to talk about today is why you should care about recognizing these diamonds in your hiring process and what key traits you should look for based on countless hours of nerdy research.

Why is Recognizing High-Performing Marketers During the Hiring Process So Important?

So you want this incredible, magical employee.

While it is relatively easy to recognize what you want to get out of an employee, it is much harder to determine what traits and signs you can look for early in the hiring process to ensure you have the right person.

How many of you have found that your first impression of a person turned out to be completely wrong?

I’m willing to bet everyone has, and it can work in both ways.

You may find that you didn’t think highly of someone who turned out to be amazing or you may also find that someone you expected the world of just didn’t deliver.

In terms of hiring, this can turn into a very costly mistake.

In either case, you paid the price.

In the first case, you invested time and money training someone who failed to meet expectations and may have even lost business in the process.

In the second, you’ve paid a significant opportunity cost that is hard to quantify by not realizing the potential of a great employee.

During the interview process, everyone is putting their best foot forward and trying to show you the most polished, positive view of themselves.

It is very easy to believe that you’ll ultimately get what the candidate is promising you, but how can you dive a little deeper and see if that is truly the case?

But First, A Story.

Our journey to learn about recognizing high-performing traits during the hiring process actually followed a very strange path.

We didn’t seek to improve our hiring process and then find this information but instead stumbled across a few realizations very serendipitously.

This whole journey began with a simple exercise in continuous improvement.

At IMPACT, we have an incredible Messaging and Branding workshop we provide to clients.

It is a service that has long been in the making and is always being updated and improved.

When it came to this, we decided to eat our own dog food and gather our CEO, COO, Sales, and Client Services leaders in one room to put them on the client side of the table for our workshop.

As we waded through the first few exercises to really understand and distill our brand style and message, we ran into a bit of roadblock. 

In trying to define our key differentiators, we kept coming back to the conversation of “Our People.”

Now, it is very difficult to successfully use “your people” as a key differentiator.

First of all, it is incredibly overused.

Almost every company you talk to will tell you their people are amazing and unmatched in the marketplace. When everyone says it, it very quickly becomes something that doesn’t differentiate you at all.

Second, it is an incredibly difficult differentiator to actually prove. How are our people different than the people who work for our competitors? What makes them better?

If there isn’t a very clear and compelling answer to that question, it isn’t really a differentiator.

The problem here is that every single person in the room knew our people were truly unique and different than those you will find anywhere else.

They are the lifeblood of IMPACT, and there truly is a quality in them that you would be hard-pressed to find in another organization. The issue was that nobody in the room could truly articulate what that quality was.

Upon inspection of our people, one incredibly important personality trait came to light.

Our team had this uncanny ability to embody paradoxes.

We could think of examples over and over again where two traits were so opposite that they should never exist within the same individual. Yet, somehow our people were able to use those opposing traits together to create something far better than they otherwise would have been able to.

The simple paradox wasn’t explanation enough, though. There was something layered on top that made it truly magical.

We poured over dictionary and thesaurus entries for days to try and find a word that might possibly help us describe what this important ability was called--and we found nothing.

What’s a marketer to do when there isn’t a good enough word to describe something?

Why, create one, of course!

We are keeping our word under wraps until we can make the big reveal, stay tuned (and come to IMPACT Live) if you’re curious what we’ve chosen!

What followed this fantastic realization was months and months of research into personality, habits and human behavior. We were determined to unlock the code that would allow us to see into the future, to recognize traits in people earlier and predict success later.

Key Traits of High-Performing Marketers

What we found were three key categories of traits that were evident in all of our highest performing staff and could be sought out during our hiring process to predict the best long-term candidates.

Traits of the Highly Successful

The first category of personality traits and habits we look for are all of the hallmarks of people who’ve historically shown high levels of success.


The first, and most foundational, of these traits is conscientiousness, or the ability to act in an organized and thoughtful way.

Hailed as the personality trait that “guarantees” success, conscientiousness has quite the reputation.

Of the Big 5 Personality characteristics, conscientiousness has most strongly been linked to the ability to go far in life and achieve higher incomes, better job satisfaction, and greater rates of success.

Those with conscientiousness are able to stay on top of deadlines, keep track of what needs to be done, and follow the steps needed to reach a goal.

Having a person like this means deadlines are met, tasks are not forgotten, processes are followed and nothing is missed.


Another key habit these individuals display is a consistent focus on the future.

In his book, High-Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard shares research around this highly common characteristic of high-performers, saying “In almost every basic question of who they were or what they wanted, the highest performers had a great ability to focus on the future and divine how they would achieve excellence.”

These individuals not only have the ability to visualize a future version of themselves that is a better version of what they are today but just having that vision increases the chance that they will grow into that version of themselves.

Traits of the Highly Creative

The second category of traits, a category that is incredibly important in marketing specifically, are the hallmarks of the highly creative.

Many perceive creative individuals to have highly opposing traits at the same time, creating an internal paradox.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist who has devoted most of his career to studying the highly creative, coined the term “paradoxical personality” to describe this internal battle.

However, that perception is incomplete.

What is really happening inside of these uniquely creative individuals is actually a fluidity along these spectrums of polar opposites; an understanding of both.

This unique ability makes these individuals great problem solvers, allows them to think outside-of-the-box, and ultimately create amazing things.

Additionally, highly creative individuals display very high levels of Openness to Experience (another of the Big 5 Personality Traits).

This personality factor has been tied very strongly in research to both highly creative and successful people.

It has also been strongly correlated with a desire and drive to grow, the ability to learn new things, and a propensity for innovative ideas.

Overall, it has a very strong predictor of success as a leader.

Emotional Intelligence

The final category of traits is what really allows an individual to harness and make the most out of the traits in the first two categories.

Emotional intelligence is characterized by an ability to both understand and manage your emotions, as well as recognize and appropriately respond to emotions in others.

It is often referred to as EQ, an emotional counterpart to our typical measure of intelligence, IQ. EQ is often considered just as important, if not more so, than IQ in predicting success. Having a high IQ may indicate a very smart individual, but without a high EQ, much of that can be wasted.

It is similar to having a big box of tools but not know what to do with any of them. Without the knowledge, the tools are useless. Such is the case with IQ and EQ.

Additionally, emotional intelligence, in connection to the Big 5, has been linked most strongly to extraversion, agreeableness, and openness to experience.

How Can You Update Your Hiring Process to Seek Out High-performing Marketers?

I was hoping you would ask! I am so excited to be speaking on this very subject this August in Hartford, CT at IMPACT Live.

During my talk, I’ll share more information about the three categories of traits to look for to recognize these amazing individuals and how to revamp your hiring process specifically to seek them out!

Send me an email if you’re coming (and if you aren’t yet, get your ticket now before the prices go up); I’d love to meet up in person and dive into deeper discussion!

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