Interview Answers I Don't Like To Hear From Email Marketers

Over at Digital Marketing Headhunter, I critiqued a couple of job descriptions for email marketers, and then offered up a list of interview questions for email marketers that I would ask. 

But all questions need answers. That part of the script I haven't published, but I will show the answers I don't like to hear:

Answers I don't like to hear from candidates. 

1) We sent out 10 million emails a month (and no explanation of what they were). 
2) We did extensive A/B Testing of the emails. (what does extensive mean? what did you test? Was that a test each week before the send?
3) I've worked with all of the email software programs and know them well
4) We were CAN-SPAM compliant. 
5) Our data team would pull the lists each week, and we'd work with the graphics department to get the right images, and then the IT department to code the email. I would test and send the email (nothing wrong with that, but it suggests someone who is only good in a large operation, and will need each one of those components to work. But at least they know it takes more than one person. Those who don't know this and assume they can do it all, are often lacking in experience). 


If you have your own job description, or questions you'd like to add, leave a comment or email me and I'll publish them. If you want it confidential, please mention it in the email.

Open Searches And Candidates For Social Media and Digital, September 2015

Dallas: VP Client Relationship for an agency. 

Dallas: Account Manager Digital/Email (agency)

New York: Director, Social Media Display (agency)

Dallas: Director Digital Marketing (SEM, SEO, email, social)

New Jersey: Client has need for National Sales Director in Wine and Spirits Category. 

New Jersey: Also need an operations manager for above. 

If you see me peeking, or calling, this is likely what I'm calling about. 


On the candidate side: 

1) A Senior Security Architect (confidential) (Dallas)

2) B2B Sr Manager, Digital Marketing (Dallas)

3) Digital/Social Sr Manager, Retail, Hospitality, Restaurant (Dallas)

4) Sr Digital Marketing Director ready to be a VP (West Coast)


And of course about 25 Managers and Directors in Social Media willing to consider options, but not in a hurry to move (West Coast, Midwest, Atlantic, Southeast)

Job Posting: Need A Curious Social/ Digital Manager In Dallas

A social commerce company in Dallas is looking for a social media manager to step in and deliver content, data, and some life into the social media accounts of the company. This is a junior to mid-level position at the tactical level built for someone to grow, and you’ll be working with/ learning from directors and executives with big brand and digital startup experience.

What we’re looking for is a team player who understands branding, style guides, working with digital natives, PR, social strategy, the limits of technology, and the importance of mobile. We’re looking for someone who understands social is a team sport that includes working with marketing managers, merchants, the advertising agency, PR firms, executives and the customer happiness team, which is a long-winded way of saying that we’re not special snowflakes writing amazing Facebook posts, but rather a part of an integrated team.

Why You Want This Job

Social commerce is hot, and it's about time you learned from someone who actually wants to see you improve. You report directly to the CMO, who is looking for fast-movers, but needs you to learn digital marketing correctly first. 

The Actual Job Duties

Channel Manager - Social Media

That’s the role. Each channel has their own use and strengths. Email covers the database andpush marketing, Advertising handles display and SEM and. PR drives interest to the platform, Merchants curate, while Customer Happiness works with current customers to test their satisfaction, answer questions, and drive relevant information back to the marketing and product teams.

The Social Media Role is the day to day outbound marketing, as well as serving as a brand voice in retail, design, ecommerce, and digital circles. You’ll be listening and reporting too, so need to have an analytic side. You’ll work with a savvy PR firm to provide ideas and support on their publicity efforts, especially with bloggers. Your posts  and content on social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest) will  correlate to the needs of the acquisition and conversion campaigns

That means you need to be able to push the buttons to make the machine work, with a change to come up with great messaging or branding creativity that complements the core values and selling proposition. You’ll need to follow the style guide, and work to integrate the social voice into the editorial calendar, which by the way you’ll be managing.

You’ll need to understand the metrics behind what you do. You’ll have a small social promotion budget, and eventually, you might take over the social display budget, but in the beginning, that will be handled out of Advertising with strong input from you.

You need to be able to write. To learn. To speak up, when you’ve done the research to contribute. Exposure to the marketing planning process is greatly desired, but if you don’t have it, we’ll teach you. That’s one of the great benefits. In a startup, you’re going to learn very fast, so if you’re currently stuck doing just one thing, without a view of what it’s important, this may be for you

Here are some bullet points:

  1. -Digital Native

  2. - 2-4 years of experience, or maybe more, but not one year four times.
    - Social Media experience outside of personal accounts or small business.

  3. - You have to be able to define AB Testing the first time I call you after you read this. Just google it if you don’t know.

  4. -Experience with Facebook Ads is good, especially data, Power Editor and audiences.

  5. SEM/SEO experience is nice, as is mobile design. Everyone digital needs a little of this these days.

  6. A BA or BS degree is a minimum requirement

Are you interesting? Are you interested? What are your passions? Do you learn quickly? What makes you say that? Are you interested in marketing? And social media? Why would you say that? Can you tell me what that means? Give an example?

We look for people who have a curiosity in life, and will take that spark anyday over someone who does one thing well.


Prediction On The Next Big Thing In Digital Marketing: Hyper Personal

A series of good conversations at SXSW and over the last two months has led me to believe that narrowing our focus will be the most effective tactic in digital marketing in 2015

"...the insights that apply to one field ultimately boil down to the same solution for an old problem. Content is dead. Not because Content isn't important - but because we use it wrong. We're not willing to take a chance and personalize our content, which means that we design/create awesome and not so awesome stuff that really only titillates marketers."

We're drowning in content and analytics - and the amount of waste in the pipeline for most lead generation is astounding. Efficiency is gained creating steps in our marketing, which isn't that much different than the old social "influencer," model, but the new data capabilities should bring us actual influencers rather than the internet celebrity we've used as shorthand for 8 years. 

The words I hear are "end-to-end marketing," with the shorthand being "business experience." Clearly, the best marketers have an eye on operations on sales, and that experience leads us to the Grand Unified Theory. 

It's the old B2B mantra - give me 20 leads that will close instead of 20 million. The methods are the same, but the focus is different (if you don't believe me, ask a B2B strategist to run a 20 MM impression campaign, and watch their expression of horror). 

So the next big thing, is not "personalization" it's turning our focus from "the market" to digestible wins based on smaller groups. I'll make an image later.

2015 Is Going To Bring A Lot Of Pain In Digital Hiring

What a fascinating end of the year. A very slow start to 2014 was matched with record numbers at the end of the year, as companies doled out the big bucks to hire and retain talent. 

Offers were up, but so were counter offers. Candidates in the hottest disciplines were getting multiple interviews and offers, and turning them down so often that I begin to think not turning down an offer was a sign that you weren't that good. 

And a series of interesting trends are going to hit us next year, as the digital talent hired in 2011-12 (what I call the three year window for promotion or job change)  pokes its head up and says, "what's next?" Add in generational gaps in the numbers of people available (less Gen-Xer's, Baby Boomers retiring), the hangover effect on Millennials who struggled through the 2008 meltdown, and a generally risk-averse candidate pool, and you have one of those years where the only answer is Facebook Memes on HireGeddon.

November and December were filled with a lot of phone calls and a lot of discussions with my target market - people making $100k to $180k in the digital and social spaces. With just one exception, everyone was willing to make a move from their current employer, and that one exception said late 2015. It's not that surprising that people talking to a recruiter would be open to moving, but keep in mind I don't advertise for positions or ask for resumes. These are cold and warm calls directly into businesses to find candidates. 

Spring Bonus season is coming, and 4th Quarter for ecommerce is done, so expect to see the hiring engines ramping up in January, with a lot of movement in March, and then a tidal wave of open positions in April as companies began posting jobs to replace those that left. That's a common cycle, but I expect to see over a hundred prominent moves in e-commerce along among big brands, and the fact is there just aren't enough people to fill the high-level jobs now. To make it worse, many companies hired the inexperienced and spent three years training their team, which means you have middle management with 10 years of digital experience, who hold together a much younger team whose sole work experience is cutting edge tactical.

To complicate things even further, job responsibilities are not clearly defined, which means that many candidates have resumes that read well, but their experience was limited to being in the room as it was being discussed. This was a common problem with developers in the 2000's, as you couldn't tell the difference between those who were on the team and those who did the work.

In short, you can't just post a job and hope you get a reasonable number of resumes. I've seen $60,000 jobs that get 1000 resumes, with hundreds of them seeming accurate until you call.


Here is some advice to think about for the next year, both for the client and the candidate side. It's not backed up by fancy reports, and it's focused around digital natives, but it's what I tell clients, and hopefully can help you in your job search. 

1) Clients that lose a talented junior executive need to hire placements quickly: 
There are a lot of hungry companies out there, and many are throwing money at people to move. Pay jumps of $20,000 are low for those in email, social display, social media, data and analytics, mobile optimization, and strategy. That money doesn't seem to have the power it used to, as roughly 50% of the people I talked to don't see money as their prime motivator. That's a generational shift we'll have to get used to. If you're hiring the under-35 crowd, don't think more money is the selling point. 

So why do you need hire replacements quickly? Company loyalty is no more. Boss loyalty is the new way to roll, and when your boss leaves, a major reason to stay disappears. We're not just talking about employees following a popular leader to another company. If one talented person leaves, the chances of the rest of the team bolting as well goes up. I'm seeing entire departments decimated by employees leaving, and when you trace it back, it almost always involved one important employee who left, and then a 6-9 month search that the internal team sees isn't that important. 

This is very important, and explains why so many candidates are looking for influence and attention instead of money. This has always been the case in B2B work, but I'm seeing a real change in B2C attitudes as well. Siloed companies are at the most risk. It's not just the work load - it's a signal of your commitment. 

2) It's Rarely A Bidding War, But It Is An Attention War
That may seem weird to say after I said salaries were going to explode, but the failures I'm seeing are in how we treat these candidates in the process, not what we need to pay them to fight off other offers. If you're not even getting to the offer stage, or you're making offers that aren't enthusiastically accepted, it's because you're the backup in case it all goes south. 

We worked with one client that was bringing candidates into the HR entrance and having them fill out paper forms. Is that how you want to start pitching a candidate you expect to run handle $20 million in digital spend? A simple fix? Bring them in the front - have manager meet them before the paperwork, or at the very least have the manager walk them back to HR. 

If your manager can't spare 5 minutes, paper boy isn't going to fix the problem. 

3) Set Expectations And Stick With Them
Candidates want to know what the process is. Tell them. Send it to them. Stick to it. They're evaluating you both on how you hire, and what they'll have to do to hire if they accept the offer.

4) If The First Time The Manager Sees The Resume Is When The Candidate Hands It To Them, You're Doing It Wrong. 
Don't laugh. I spend hours prepping candidates, and when an interview goes bad, it's usually because the manager spent of all 10 seconds preparing. When the candidate stops calling, do you think the manager is going to say, "I blew it," or are they going to come up with some reason the person wasn't a fit anyway? Stop losing good candidates whose only demands are that you look them in the eye and know their name before they walk in the door. 

5) They're Talking About You. And They Don't Like What They Hear
If you really want to know your company reputation, go to a conference, tell people you're interviewing at your company, and ask them what they think. Social/Digital people are the most connected on the planet. The good ones hear a company name, and before I'm off the phone, they're emailing, DM'ng, texting and messengering their connections asking if they should stay on the phone with me. 

6) Make Sure You're Talking To Your Recruiter
Attention spans are short. It doesn't matter if you're talking to your headhunter or your internal HR - if they don't have quick feedback, they can't give quick feedback. In this world, no call means no offer. If you aren't interested in hiring, don't think you can come back in a week and set up another interview. 

Yes, this means you have to make decisions and live with them. But isn't that your job? 

You Have Six Months
Gas Prices Are Low. The stock market is soaring. Nothing is changing in Washington until 2016. The first six months are going to be very important if you want the best people. 

Oh, and one last piece of advice. 

Day 2 Morning Notes From Digital Dallas Summit 2014: #DDSUM14

Here we go with Day 2. 

1) Good advice fom @weisesarah about creating personas. Give them a name and a picture. Ask what's in their purse. Make it specific. 

2) The question I heard from a candidate about what makes you more money, improving your mobile app buying experience or hiring a social team still makes me cry a little. So I posted it as a question. 

3) Email isn't dead. Everyone who makes money admits they use email, and @mparkerbyrd says that it's still 3400% ROI for email. But everyone hates it. And it's also true that kids don't read their email. What does that mean for the future?

4) I'm not comfortable with training your customers that you'll always respond. These teams aren't prepped, and all they want is to get you off line. 

5) Talking about marketing automation - he uses the word Omnichannel. I can't wait until that word is destroyed. We should mock it. - Although Hassan Bawab of Magic Logix has a good definition - "fancy way of saying your sales staff is providing the customer with an ideal [buying] experience."

6) I like the slide, "I've known you were going to purchase this for six months." "You're weirding me out - can I just pay and leave." Marketing Automation session from Hassan. 

7) I just asked the conference organizer to play Shia Live. Actually played it for him on my phone. Not sure if they're taking requests for bumper music. They're playing Billy Joel right now. 

8) Mel Carson tells a great story about hiring a monk from Google Ads. It was 10 years ago. He has a testimonial. 

9) Mel also talks about breaking PR into different tiers. I remember doing this for blogging in 2006. The difference now is that much of the "national press" we used to pitch has been replaced with "national blogs." This is the advantage of experience. 

10) In the Marketing Technology panel, listening to @ipullrank - it's funny, because no one here bats an eye at that data privacy intrusion we take for granted, but I can't help but think a lot of people would freak if they knew how easy it was for just about anyone to know almost everything about someone that is in a database. Address, phone, email, IP address, number of people in the home, ages, credit card purchase data. It really is a scary world, but it's been around since the early days of the ETL Data Warehouses. 

Notes From Digital Dallas Summit 2014

This is going to be just a section for my notes:

1) Trying to choose between Beacon talk and videos. I want cat videos, but will go to the Beacon talk.
2) Met Amy King from Nested Strategies. Ran into Jeremy Roberts from Sourcecon. {What's he doing here?}

3) American Airlines speaker Philip Easter is funny. Video is too damn loud. And hysterical, because with a iphone5, it looks outdated. NVC technology tells American Air where people are when they check in, allowing them to customize service for their apps, for special needs, kids... Pretty cool. 
4) Ran into another candidate - looks like funny Tweets are doing their job. 

5) Will Clevenger of RBA is a smart guy. Remember to follow him. Talking about trends and disruptions. 
a) Enhancing customer experience, b) Transforming digital, c) customizing rewards. 
What does ambient mean?

6) Microsoft guy on UX - didn't like when one of world's biggest companies claims they're a startup, but this guy is polite, and so is the audience. Super polite. When he says hipster doofus, no one laughs sardonically. They all nodded. 

Coming To You Live From Digital Dallas Summit 2014

I'll be at #DDSum14 today and tomorrow, looking to connect with digital and social candidates, but also introduce myself to companies struggling to hire. 

Look, it's tough out there. The people doing the work are heads down right now in Q4, and it's really difficult to separate those who are on the team from those who are leading the team. Knowing isn't enough, as getting your program or campaign through the enterprise is the skill that is more important. 

So don't be afraid to say hello. Here's my smiling face. Just try to imagine me without a beard. or a hat. 

2012-11-18 07.18.24

I am looking right now. I have a Director level position for social commerce in Southern California - someone who understands social strategy but can integrate social display with their content team while interfacting with customer service. I'll take senior managers, especially those of you who are underpaid, and I'll take those of you paid just enough but who want to move away the coming Snowpocalypse. 

Either way - look me up. 


Or you can text me at cyberdust, that new app by Cuban. 

I'm jimdurbin on cyberdust. 

November Headhunting Report For Digital And Social Marketers


Spring is still the big time for digital recruiting. Many company companies bonus in February and March, especially those looking at their holiday sales, which means no one likes to leave with $30,000 on the table. 

Hiring is slightly up for companies who don't depend on 4Q, and movement by candidates in companies where the bonus isn't assured is always a risk.

Below are my notes for October's calls - if they're useful to you, consider sharing it to your network. 

1) Companies are taking too long to hire

Check this article out from Harvard Business Review. It's happening, and getting worse. Basic premise is there's a lot of risk in hiring, and execs/managers/companies are nervous about it. Companies need to improve their process, and recruiters need to address concerns on both sides. There's a lot of wasted time that occurs because "top talent" likes to be courted, but isn't honest about what they want and need.

My rule of thumb is 30 days. You have 30 days from the day the candidate feels like they are a candidate to hire. After that, not only do offers fail, but performance and retention are affected as well. 

And if you're  company that has a critical digital management position open for over six months, Beware! I've seen a number of companies hollowed out when management positions aren't filled.  

2) Salaries about to explode in the social commerce space for the right people.

This is happening in a lot of tight areas, and nothing is tigher than social commerce right now. There are only 50 companies on the Social Media 500 with revenues over $1MM tracked to social media channels. There are 100 companies that want that, and they want it today. I anticipate Sr Manager and Director level positions rising dramatically by June of next year. At the same time, I anticipate much shorter leashes for those jobs. If they boost your salary by $20,000, you may have only a quarter to show results.  

3) Salary matters less then budget and authority

The really competent in this space range from the technical to the analytic to super managers. In the last month, I've heard dozens of times that salary is less important than budget commitment and authority. Salary still matters, but a big bump in pay is less important than infrastructure and marketing department integration. Great social and digital leaders need senior level executive champions who commit to letting them create working campaigns. It's not about a $10MM ad campaign. It can be $100,000, as long as you get the full amount and are allowed to complete the campaign. 

4) Telecommuting is a huge unmet need

Big Brand experience can be important in this space. Apple is not the same as Pete's Apple Emporium. But the number of large firms with a big digital presence can be very limited in a single city that isn't San Francicso or New York or Dallas. There are some very talented people who can't uproot their families, but would travel or take telecommuting jobs with large brands. 

Companies don't like this, of course. They want to see if you make it before they let you work remotely, so there's a tension there that should be interesting. The companies that figure out telecommuting or commit to remote teams are going to be big winners, or...candidates will just have to move for new jobs. Hard to tell where in the cycle we are.  

5) 1 out of 5 of you has what it takes
When I first committed to social media headhunting in 2008, 80% of the people I spoke with had never taken a check for what they claimed they could do. Now, most people get checks, but they're wildly optimistic about their impact on the company.

Well, social is now a preference layer instead of a skillset, so integration with the company is a must. It's fascinating, because social piggybacked on the old fight between Digital and Print (or Creative or Traditional), and now, full integration really is a powerful tool. Combining Direct Mail with Television with Email with Social with Sales is hard to do, but many of you are getting good at it. 1 out of 5 that I talk to understand it and have done it. 

That's good news for companies, who now are told "this person exists," instead of "um, let me look around."

About These Reports

These reports are going to start coming monthly, as a way for me to keep notes and track trends while I'm on the phone.  Expect to see more writing here as I'm now focused 100% on the recruiting side of the house for Brandstorming, and am no longer taking marketing or outsourcing contracts.

Our sweet spot is going to be executive search in  Digital/Social/Web/Content/Email/Analytics in the 100-180K salary range in the US, focusing on the South, Midwest, Mountain West, and Southern California.

 If we're not connected, do so now. Go ahead and call me a friend to connect. You're reading, the blog, right? 

View Jim Durbin's profile on LinkedIn

 If you follow me on Twitter, RT or favorite something I write, and I'll follow back so you can do a confidential DM. I don't live tweet to people who may be looking.

America's Got Social Media MarketingTalent

In the last two months, I've spoken with hundreds of social media consultants, managers, directors, speakers and strategists. 

That's what happens when you call people for jobs. 

And what I've found is that the level of talent when it comes to marketing and customer service integration has absolutely exploded. I'd say a good 20% of the people I speak to really get how to integrate social into their jobs. Many have other skillsets, including email, PPC, direct mail (I said it). event marketing, nonprofit selling, sales enablement, and even international logistics (how do you think you find trusted contacts in new countries without social media?). 

But, man are we bad at hiring. I can list five senior social media people who could run divisions for large companies who are out looking for work. I have a handful of digital strategists that are open to moving, are less than six figures, and have 8-10 years of experience. 

It seems that companies have done very well training their people to handle social, but when it comes to hiring social, we're failing. 

Part of the problem is everyone is calling themselves social these days. If we could just get more specific with our skills instead of lumping everything into social, I think we could bring down the noise ratio. The other part is the hot girl effect. If someone is really good at what they do, companies are sometimes afraid to approach them. Supposedly, really hot women date less than just attractive women because men are afraid of them (I'd like to note that unlike some of my peers, I didn't post a picture here to drive traffic). 

A third problem is that the higher up the food chain you go, the harder it is to fill a job, and the patchwork economy of today leaves some talented people in the wrong cities (remote doesn't work for everyone). 

I never do this, but here's my pitch - and it's to executives. If you think your social is dull, boring, not working, an expense, or something you plan to get around to, please call me. I can help you identify what you're looking for, and probably have the person you want to hire in my database. And I've probably spoken to them in 2014. 

There are too many talented people looking for their next big win. Not for jobs, but their next big win. If you want a win, please call.  

214-509-7262. Ask for Jim Durbin, the Social Media Headhunter.

If you leave a message, it will be our new company name, Brandstoming