As a web marketing agency we are called upon by our clients to create and execute ideas, but many times, we work alongside the marketing departments of those companies so that they can capitalize on our expertise in marketing while focusing their expertise on their products or services.
We’re often called on to offer our opinion on who would be a good hire for their internal staffing needs. Here are three of our suggestions based on our experience.
People May Not Be As Technology Literate As You Think.
That 20-something that you’ve hired right out of college has a smart phone with a Twitter app. That must mean that they know about social media, right?
I’ve taught web development at the college level for a few years and I’m always amazed at how little my students (who are usually juniors and seniors) know about their own computers. My students can log onto Facebook just fine, but they always have difficulty understanding principals as fundamental as file management.
I have made teaching these fundamentals an important part of my class, but when I do training or seminars for clients and businesses, I see much of the same lack of basic skills.
When I was in college, I had to learn to use the computer itself before I could make that computer do anything meaningful. Today we have many “one click” solutions that seemingly eliminate many layers of work and planning.
Applications are produced and packaged in a way that is designed to sell products and services rather than accomplish mission critical business objectives. So it takes a skilled professional to know how to use and leverage relevant applications and technology to achieve business and marketing goals.
I’ve seen organizations hire marketing staff solely on the fact that the person had a Facebook account. That fact led to the assumption that that same person could utilize Facebook as a successful marketing tool. In 2010, I saw dozens of people hired solely on the fact that they had a Twitter or Tumbler or something-else account.
The hiring company always assumed that because their new hire was in possession of a social media account, they were proficient at social media. The reality is that most of these tools are free and many millions of people have access or accounts, but only a few are really proficient in their use.
This extends beyond the social media space. About a year ago, I met the IT director of a company who I needed to work with on behalf of one of my clients, let’s call him “Fred”. I asked Fred to provide the numeric IP address to a specific resource (a textbook level-101 request) and he did not know how to go about doing that. I later found out that Fred was hired because he had a Facebook account. The principal of the company considered Facebook to be “techy” and assumed Fred had a level of computer literacy that qualified him for the job.
When I am called on to train or support in-house marketing resources, I often have to report to the principal that the training is not possible because core fundamental skills need to be taught first. This can be a shocking revelation but it’s also avoidable.
Before you fall into the same unproductive and unprofitable trap, follow this simple advice: hire smart. If you want to hire for a position, but don’t have the in-house resources to make an educated decision, hire a consultant. They can play an important role in helping you identify a legitimately qualified individual who can fit in with your organization’s needs.
Don’t Assume Someone Will “Figure It Out”.
I often see organizations hire based on the “they’ll figure it out” principle. During difficult economic times, many companies consolidate job responsibilities and expect a single person to learn a variety of seemingly related skills.
But just because your new employee is proficient in IT does not mean he can build a website. And if he can build a website, it does not mean he can design one, or successfully market it online or create and track a meaningful email campaign.
Often, employees are so busy managing daily tasks that there is no time left for reading, learning and becoming proficient in new things.
Hiring can be a tedious process that takes people away from their primary responsibilities. Especially in small companies that do not have a dedicated Human Resources department, it is difficult to spend the time necessary crafting realistic job requirements and then finding individuals who can meet them.
Many times the assumption is, “they’ll figure it out.” But the “hire now and repent later” approach can backfire in a big way when you realize that not only hasn’t your employee “figured it out”, but he is so busy trying to manage a diverse array of tasks that he is unable to excel at any one thing.
If you need employees to learn something then get them the support or resources that they need to learn, and make it an at-work and not an after-work initiative. Create real world targets and initiatives and give your new hire an incentive to learn “into” that task. Be realistic about your expectations. Don’t expect that since your new hire is learning Google Analytics, that they are also a graphic artist and web developer.
People tend to do better with at-work training when objectives are clear and the training is targeted.
If your business has a need, identify it and make a commitment to it. Hire an outside consultant to help if possible. Then set initiatives for your new hire. Give them time, resources and then more time.
There will be a short term investment, but a long term payoff.
Many People Use Email Incorrectly.
You’ve just hired a fresh new face to handle your internal marketing and given them an email account under your corporate domain. Imagine your surprise when you receive an explicit joke from that new hire. A few moments later you get an email from your client asking about the poorly spelled, grammatically questionable email your new hire just sent.
Ask yourself this, did you develop a clear policy for email? Did you mandate that employees use email in a professional manner?
No? Welcome to the way most people use email.
Email’s biggest advantage is its immense simplicity. This also makes it its greatest weakness. Because of the speed and ease with which an email can be written and sent, it becomes a potential pitfall for businesses unless a clear and professional email policy is set.
I regularly see emails from vendors, customers and partners that are embarrassingly poorly written. Every email that leaves your server is a mini advertisement that represents your company. Maintaining a professional image is of utmost importance, and that means being mindful of everything from inappropriate content to punctuation and vocabulary.
At best, an unprofessional email can create an awkward moment with a group or individual important to your business. At worst, an unprofessional email will be the star of an embarrassing YouTube video.
Younger employees, like my students, usually don’t remember a time when email did not exist, and the bulk of their emails are for personal messaging. They don’t make a distinction between asking their friends to go to that rockin’ concert and asking a customer to provide a report of last month’s sales.
When email is going to be used for business purposes, your company policy should be clear to your staff.
Your job is to make sure everyone understands this and that a baseline is established for professional and courteous email messaging. And remember, the computer gods invented spell check for a reason.
Do you have questions about how to go about hiring the right employee, or insights to share from your hiring experiences? Share your thoughts with us in the comments, and pass this info along to your business colleagues who might benefit.