Understanding how to interpret a marketing CV can help you identify promising candidates – and quickly eliminate no-hopers. John Meikle explains how to create a shortlist of the most promising candidates
You should have already prepared a person specification setting out the desirable and essential characteristics that candidates for a job should have. For example, you might have specified that candidates should have a particular marketing qualification or experience of your industry.
Requirements like these can be used to quickly eliminate candidates who do not match your criteria.
Avoid letting your conscious or subconscious prejudices discriminate against candidates unfairly (and illegally). Information on gender, religion, age and so on should not influence your assessment of a candidate.
Unless you are advertising junior roles, you should expect a decent standard of professionalism from applications. A quick glance may be all it takes - if an applicant can't present their own CV well, what chance is there that they would produce professional sales letters or high quality marketing presentations?
Be cautious about over-reliance on qualifications unless they are genuinely relevant. In sales roles, experience and/or enthusiasm can be more important. But marketing and sales management qualifications may be a good guide for broader roles and sales management, particularly if your existing team lacks specialist expertise.
Best known are qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. The CAM Foundation, the Institute of Direct Marketing and the Market Research Society also offer respected qualifications covering particular marketing disciplines.
Broader management qualifications will generally also cover a marketing element, and a qualification like this may be particularly relevant if it relates to your industry. Qualifications from well-known colleges and universities can also indicate a good grounding in marketing knowledge, but may need to be supported by relevant practical experience. High level qualifications (such as an MBA) may be of little relevance to smaller businesses focused on practical concerns.
Be particularly cautious about relying on marketing qualifications that you do not recognise. In any case, you should check any claimed qualifications before offering a job.
Relevant marketing experience
While experience is key, it needs to be relevant. Look for candidates who have worked in similar roles to the one you are offering, ideally in the same industry. Telesales experience may be little use in a role that relies on servicing a handful of key accounts. Marketing high-value products to business customers requires a different approach from direct marketing to consumers.
Again, it’s worth going back to your job description and checking how well a candidate’s experience matches your requirements. Many marketing roles cover a range of different activities - for example, the sales job you are offering might include researching new leads and providing follow up customer service.
Throughout the CV, look for evidence of achievement - growing sales, identifying promising new markets, meeting deadlines. Be prepared to follow up at interview with questions designed to test whether candidates really were responsible for successful performance in their previous employment.