OREANDA-NEWS. May 25, 2016. Content marketing is all the rage these days. Especially since 2012, interest in the term content marketing has spiked, as this Google Trends chart to the right shows.

This is how the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience  and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Why all this interest in content marketing? Businesses are increasingly (and rightly) focused on customers and service. Content marketing is designed to serve customers, not brands, making it unique when compared to traditional marketing channels.

So lets say youre a small business interested in hiring your first content marketing employee. Or maybe youre a company with an already-established content marketing team, but youd like to hire someone else to take your content to the next level. As a content marketer myself, heres what I would look for when making my next content marketing hire.

The Job Description

An ideal hire starts with a specific, targeted job description. Be totally transparent about what youre looking for. Content marketers take many forms, and the lines between different roles within content are blurring.

Do you want a straight-up strategist and writer? Someone who can design e-books but also code an interactive website? A project manager who helps drive content strategy? A data analyst?

You want to hire someone who is passionate about the role and will jump in with aplomb, so dont mince words  if the role is primarily in-the-weeds content creation vs. high-level strategy, say so. One helpful way to get specific about your job description is to create a list of how the employees time will typically be spent. For example, you could say that your open role is:

  • 10% content strategy
  • 10% updating the editorial calendar
  • 50% creating original content
  • 15% guest blogger management
  • 15% editing blog posts by other employees

For most content marketing jobs, youll want to see a portfolio, too, and not just a resume. This portfolio should include different types of content, exhibit a clear brand voice, and be the type of content youd want to read, watch or share yourself.

If someone seems like a good candidate but doesnt have a robust content marketing portfolio, you can also do a writing, editing, or strategy brainstorming test as part of your interview or pre-interview process.

Reviewing Applications

As with hiring for any role, look for specific results on applications  not just a list of great adjectives that describe the person. Who would you rather hire: a person who claims to be results-driven, or a person who says their blog posts were the companys highest-performing? These results should also align with what you want this person to achieve in their new role.

Content marketing is still a relatively new field, so dont be concerned if you dont get many applications from people with job titles similar to your open position. The majority of applications might not say content marketing manager but say something similar (like editorial manager or marketing communications manager).

At Salesforce, we have members of the content marketing team who joined us from journalism, book publishing (thats me!), other software companies, and beyond. Having a mix of approaches and backgrounds will help you create more diverse content.

While youre considering resumes, dont forget to ask current employees for recommendations. Employee referrals are our #1 source of new hires here at Salesforce. People like to work with people they like, so youll improve retention and the quality of your workforce if you seek internal recommendations. In content marketing, where collaboration is key, these team relationships become even more critical.

The Interview

Whether interviewing candidates over the phone or in person, these tips will help you get past initial first impressions to decide if a potential hire will become a perfect fit.

See if they know the actual job description. All too often, the answer to Why do you want to work here? is I love your companys product, I really want to work in digital marketing, or I just moved to/really want to live in city XYZ! Instead, your applicant should be passionate about this specific job in content marketing, hearkening back to key phrases from the job description when explaining their excitement, and sharing why they think content marketing is a worthy endeavor.

Discuss their favorite examples of content marketing. This will give you a great sense of if you share similar aesthetics and favorite content types. Use this information as a discussion point, not a deal-breaker. Lets say youre a small B2B company hiring a content marketing manager. Dont be afraid if your applicant only cites B2C examples, as long as she can relate them back to your company and demonstrate that she understands the broader content marketing truths behind those examples.

Spearhead some on-the-spot brainstorming or content creation. This person is going to be working closely with you (or others at your company). Toss some ideas around for new content and get their perspective. The ideal content marketer will be curious about your ideas, a good listener when hearing goals for the project, and an excellent contributor of new ways to approach that content.

Gauge their comfort level and experience with working within a certain style guide and brand voice. Even if youre an entrepreneur with zero style guide just yet, you likely have an idea of how your branded materials should look and sound. Make sure your potential content marketer knows how to work within those confines, yet still make content sound personable.

Talk about data, not just creative. How will you know if your content marketing is actually working? By looking at the numbers. Every content marketer should have an understanding of how their work contributes to various metrics. If youre talking with someone who seems to be totally gung-ho on the creative side but isnt experienced in (or at least curious about) how content is measured, then this may not be the best fit.

Your ideal content marketing hire will be someone whos equal parts creative, collaborative, metrics-oriented, and customer-focused. Keep these attributes in mind as you follow every step of the hiring process.