What to Look For When Hiring a Digital MarketerWhether outsourcing with an expert marketing partner or hiring in-house, virtually every business is working with some form of marketing professional with digital skills. In an economy where information is everything, digital marketing is simply not optional.

So, how should you proceed when you’ve carefully weighed the pros and cons of working with an agency and decided to hire a digital marketer full time? You can’t just assume that all digital marketers have the same skillsets or that every digital marketer is a good fit for every position.

Your company is unique, so you are going to require different strengths and skills from your full time marketer. It’s important to compare all your candidates by the same standards, and then rank those standards based on your company’s individual needs.

Here are six characteristics that you’ll want to look for when you’re hiring a digital marketing professional:

1. Specialization

One of the dangers of hiring an in-house marketer is that you end up with a generalist: someone who has general knowledge, but no depth in any one particular area. If you end up hiring a generalist that needs specialization, you must be prepared to train them (or pay to have them trained) at your own expense.

If you work for a manufacturer, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a social media specialist. A technical writer with blogging and some search engine optimization experience will be a much better fit. If you’re hiring for a medical practice, that social media experience (and paid advertising experience) will come in handy.

2. Lifelong Learner

A digital marketer should stay informed with the latest headlines in online marketing. That’s a given. But the most qualified digital marketer for your company will also have knowledge of your particular industry, or at least prepare for the interview process by spending hours researching it.

Hiring a digital marketer with experience in your industry can reduce the time it takes for that person to be effective and save training costs.

Aside from experience, we also look for people that are curious – those that have creative ideas and the drive to test them and learn from them.

3. Communication

When you hire a digital marketer, this person must work with a number of stakeholders in order to get her job done, from company leadership and other employees to customers and freelancers. This person may also need to hire subcontractors from time to time, such as designers and writers. All of these interactions will require polished people skills, so make sure you screen for communication habits that suit the needs of your organization during the interview.

4. Efficient Time Manager

This might be true of anyone you hire, but look for an efficient time manager. Seek out candidates that know how to get a lot done in a day. Digital marketing is complicated and can overwhelm someone who doesn’t know how to manage his time effectively.

5. Strategic Thinker

Marketing managers tend to fall into the trap of getting caught up in day to day execution. While tactics are where the “rubber meets the road,” you’ll want to hire someone who doesn’t have a problem coming up with fresh ideas. You’ll need someone with the analytical skills to decide what’s right for the company (and which things aren’t worth trying).

6. DARC-Age Skills

As HubSpot partners, we wouldn’t have a complete list without suggesting HubSpot’s “Hiring in the DARC Ages” download, which identifies four important characteristics for digital marketers: digital citizenship, analytical skills, web reach, and content creation. Check out the download for more information on how to screen digital marketer applicants for these skills.

Once you have the right candidates, here’s a suggestion to find out who really stands apart from the pack:

The best way we’ve found to differentiate strong candidates in the interview process is to have them do an exercise to show you how they think and where they’re strongest skill-wise. For example, you might want to have your finalists write a 2-page summary of marketing activities that they would propose for your company and why based on what they learned about the company in the interview process.

If hiring in-house doesn’t turn out to be the best choice, you might find our article on “6 Traits To Look For When Hiring An Online Marketing Agency” helpful.

If hiring a full-time digital marketer is a good fit for your company, I hope this post has given you some things to look for. What type of marketer is right for your company and why? Do you have tips to share with other companies that are looking to hire a digital marketing professional? Leave them in the comments below.