How to Hire A CMO: Step By Step Guide
Hiring a new CMO is a decision that could make or break your business. You must be extra cautious in choosing a CMO that’s right for your company.
When hiring a CMO, you can’t decide based on just your gut feeling. Why? That’s because you need to look into the candidate’s background, hard skills, soft skills, and much more.
In this article, we will tell you exactly what to look for when hiring a CMO, when and how to hire a CMO, and lastly, introduce you to Shiny – a fractional marketplace you can leverage to hire CMO at affordable rates.
What to Look for When Hiring A CMO?
Ensure that the CMO you’re hiring is an all-rounder. CMO should at least have a basic understanding of business development, digital marketing, and lead generation.
The CMO manages a high-level team of marketing professionals, ranging from content specialists to marketing directors.
If he doesn’t know the basics, how would you expect him to delegate work and lead a team?
One other thing a CMO should have is impeccable communication skills.
He will eventually become your brand’s voice and help build both short-term and long-term public relations. Also, communication skills are crucial for a company to spread brand awareness.
Aside from his skills, one of the most important qualities to look for in a chief marketing officer is his cultural fit.
Hiring Tip: A CMO who shares your company’s values will find it easier to adjust to the role and form relationships with your current employees.
#2. Up to Date
Apart from versatility, the CMO must be zestful to the dynamic changes in the marketing industry.
CMO must keep track of innovations in the field. And not just tracking but also adapting to new industry techniques and practices to keep your company at the top of the marketing game.
Hiring Tip: If a candidate is extensively involved in the industry via social media (LinkedIn), associations, or communities, he will be aware of the latest industry news.
Having an up-to-date CMO will prevent the company from falling behind in time.
Apart from analytical and strategic excellence, the CMO should also be able to think out of the box.
Marketing is all about appealing to your audience with unique and exciting ideas revolving around your product.
Hiring someone with a creative mindset can stir your marketing efforts to the next level. This will also encourage the marketing department to kick things up a notch.
You want someone who makes data-driven decisions and can deliver big numbers.
Hiring Tip: if a candidate can’t showcase a creative portfolio or any past work experience to prove their creative thinking skills, move to the next one.
#4. Top-Notch Communication Skills
A chief marketing officer must communicate effectively to spread your company’s vision and mission.
They need to be excellent at conveying ideas verbally and in writing so that your audience understands your brand’s USP.
In addition, a CMO needs to communicate effectively with office colleagues.
Being a C-suite, the CMO is directly answerable to the company’s CEO. Poor communication might add a hindrance to effective marketing operations.
Hiring Tip: Look for a CMO who is comfortable communicating at all levels of your organization, from the lowest to the highest.
Leadership is the foremost skill one should look for while recruiting a CMO.
Whether a not-for-profit organization or an advertising agency, the CMO designation is no joke.
Hence, your new marketing chief must fuel your team with clear, comprehensive, and emphatic leadership skills.
You’ll want to hire someone who doesn’t approach situations from a self-centered or narrow perspective but is open to suggestions and ideas from their team.
Hiring Tip: When interviewing candidates, ask them how they incorporate teamwork into their decision-making process. You can also provide them with situations to test their patience and critical-thinking skills under stressful situations.
#6. Adaptable and Technology Inclined
Do you know that 72% of CMOs have increased investments in marketing innovations over the last year?
Hiring a CMO with years of hands-on experience is great. Still, you’re looking for someone willing to grow with time – particularly in the tech department.
Since the marketing industry is dynamic, the marketing chief should be interested in learning how to promote your business with several new and upcoming online and offline strategies.
Hiring Tip: Hire someone who has a hunger for learning and a curious mind ready to explore the latest technologies. This skill will add greater value to your marketing team.
One of the last things you might be looking for in a CMO is humility.
It’s a selfless trait where you admit when you’re wrong and allow others to have their say in team projects, ignoring personal gains.
Respect, kindness, accountability, and maintaining open communication are all components of workplace humility.
Hiring Tip: While screening candidates, listen for examples where they kept their team’s belief above their personal success. These are some key traits you would admire in a CMO.
When Is the Right Time to Hire A CMO?
#1. Series A Funding
Suppose your startup closed a million-dollar series A funding round.
With an ample amount of funds in hand, you’re in a position to pay for a C-level executive and build a quality team around him from scratch.
Before initiating the hiring process, you must pool the resources required by a CMO to function smoothly. That includes hiring some top-of-the-selves marketers.
Once done, it’s great to get your company a CMO who’s ready to implement marketing strategies and techniques.
#2. Rapid Growth
Even if you didn’t get much funding, a period of rapid growth could signal the rightful need for a CMO in your organization.
This will fuel your growth trajectory and help you capitalize on the opportunity.
The CMO can run effective marketing and PR campaigns like webinars, one-on-one sessions, and case studies – to skyrocket your brand’s presence and support your sales and revenue teams.
So, hit the iron when it’s ok, meaning, hire a CMO when your business is at its peak (a CMO will help you get to the next peak).
#3. Market Traction
Market traction is proof that your audience wants your product.
If you’re a brand new business or have an idea that can be a potential product, you can test market traction via a Kickstarter campaign.
If your Kickstarter campaign is a success, you can start raising funds. Of course, no one would give you a million dollars for just an idea.
But, if you trust your idea, you can invest in hiring a CMO who can transform that idea into a successfully selling product.
Note: Hiring CMO based solely on market traction is a risky maneuver, and we don’t recommend it. Consider other factors along with it, and if you think it’s the right time to hire a CMO, do it.
#4. Scaling Your Marketing Team
As your marketing team expands, you need a supervisor accountable for all the revenue and marketing efforts.
It’s worth having a marketing leader onboard when scaling your marketing strategies.
A CMO can act as a mentor, guide your marketing team, and help optimize marketing strategies.
#4. Geographic Expansion
Lastly, hiring a CMO is your best bet when expanding your business to new regions or places.
No doubt your marketing efforts were brilliant when they were limited to a specific geo-location.
But to take your business global, hiring a CMO with experience building international brands is important.
The CMO will be responsible for managing marketing managers and operations across different regions in compliance with the policy and market variations in different countries.
How to Hire A CMO In 3 Steps
Step 1: Write A Flawless Chief Marketing Officer Job Description
When you want to hire a full-time CMO, a job description (JD) is the first thing you will need.
To attract world-class CMOs, you want to have a JD that’s error-free, to the point, and explains to the candidate clearly about the role and pay.
Here are some best practices to follow when writing a job description:
- Use a catchy headline that has the term Chief Marketing Officer in it; ex: Hiring Chief Marketing Officer to Take Our Brand Global
- Tell the candidates about your mission, vision, your story via the Who we are section
- Tell the candidates how their day in and day out would look like, what are your expectations from them, and give them a road map month over month
- Explain to them what benefits can they avail if selected
- Let them know a little about their team
- Have a Must Have and a Minimum Requirements section to clarify what you’re looking for
Job Description Format to Follow
Title: Hiring Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to take [Company_name] Global
Open with a question and tell candidates what the job post is about.
Ex: Are you an experienced business professional who lives and breathes marketing? [Company_name] is looking for a CMO to lead our small yet impactful team of marketers.
Who Are We?
Mention the following in a couple of paragraphs:
- Your company story
The Objective of the Role
- Tell the candidate about the benchmarks your brand sets for a CMO
- Explain what work a CMO would be doing at your company
- Things that are non-negotiable for your company, for ex: Must be fluent in English
Skill Set and Qualifications
- Your minimum requirements for a candidate to be eligible to apply as a CMO
Good to Have
- Extra skills to have (if any)
Perks and Benefits
Step 2: Resume Screening
Resume screening plays a pivotal role when hiring an employee for a CMO role as it helps you narrow down your choices significantly.
Oftentimes, the number of applications you get for a job role might overwhelm you, and that’s where resume screening comes in handy.
When it comes to narrowing down your list via resume screening, you can do it manually or automatically (via software).
Ideally, the way you select to screen resumes depends on:
- Time and budget
- Number of responses you get
- Number of vacancies you want to fill
But when you’re hiring a CMO, we’d suggest you screen resumes manually.
You want to know your candidates in and out because the selection process for hiring an executive-level talent could be quite volatile.
A candidate might not have enough experience but might be a prodigy who’d be perfect to be a CMO of your company.
Step 3: Interviewing
Interviewing potential candidates is the most important step to getting the right CMO on board.
When interviewing candidates for a CMO position, remember to test them in these three sectors:
- Hard Skills: Technical knowledge
- Soft Skills: Personal traits and cognitive skills
- Behavioral Intelligence: Determine how the candidate has handled a situation in the past
Let’s see what major interview questions to ask when interviewing a potential CMO of your company.
Top Hard Skills Questions to Ask A CMO
Q. What do you think our company’s doing right, and what would you want us to improve marketing-wise?
Why does this question matter?
The question will let you know if the candidate has done thorough research about your company or not. It will also let you know if the candidate is the right fit and in sync with your company’s mission, vision, and values.
Answer to look for:
The answer should revolve around a strong marketing plan and strategy that the candidate would launch to promote your product or service.
The best answer will have a balance between diplomacy and frankness. The answer should be backed with strong factual reasoning.
Other questions to ask:
- Walk me through the best marketing campaign you have worked on so far?
- What do you think are the challenges one faces when launching a new marketing initiative?
- How much do you know about SEO and content marketing?
- What metrics and KPIs do you think might be essential to track for our company?
Best Soft Skills Questions to Test Your CMO
Q. What leaders do you look up to and why?
Why does this question matter?
Every CMO has an inspiration or a leader they follow, be it a historical manager, a past colleague, or a fortune 500 CEO.
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but their answer can reveal a lot about their working style, personality, goals, and much more.
Answer to look for:
Rather than naming just three marketers, the candidate should have a strong reason as to why these leaders inspire him.
Other questions to ask:
- If hired, what are your immediate goals, and where do you see our product three years from now?
- What do you do in your free time?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Best Behavioral Intelligence Questions to Ask A CMO
Q. Consider a situation where you need extra internal resources and 3 employees for a new product launch for a brand new startup. What budget would you ask your CEO to sanction, and how would you justify it?
Why does this question matter?
Trying new marketing strategies to get more sales is always a great idea.
But, when you’re a brand new startup with a limited budget, you can’t have a CMO pouring money into hiring uncountable marketers and running multiple campaigns.
An experienced CMO should be able to decide if any go-to-market strategy is worth investing in or not.
Answer to look for:
Here, the budget isn’t as important as the justification. Listen to what justification the candidate gives.
Other questions to ask:
- A situation about skimming your team due to budget issues
- What strategy would you use to promote a product – A or B? Why?
2 Major Drawbacks of Hiring A CMO Via Traditional Method
Hiring a CMO via the 3 steps mentioned might seem simple and straightforward, but we’d recommend you rather don’t do it.
That’s because there are some major drawbacks to the process.
#1. Time Consuming and Tiring
To start your hiring process, you first have to write a job description, discuss it with your team, and polish it.
When that’s done, it’s time to find the perfect platform to publish your job post. You might be able to decide in a day or at times it might take weeks.
After finding a perfect job board to post your CMO job description, you have to wait for the candidates to submit their resumes.
And then you have to shortlist, test, and interview multiple candidates to choose the best one.
What if you don’t find the right CMO after all these days of struggle?
#2. High Recruitment Investment
To hire a full-time or part-time CMO via the traditional recruitment method you might have to pay for:
- Writer to write job description (if you want to outsource)
- Posting the JD on a premium job board
- Venue booking if you want to do the process offline
If you’re a mid-sized business and have an HR, you also will be giving her a monthly salary.
So a traditional recruitment process burns thousands of dollars in months.
How Shiny Helps You Overcome the Above Problems
A marketplace like Shiny can help you get the perfect fractional marketing executive in just 48 hours.
Shiny is a fractional talent marketplace that matches fractional executives with clients who need them.
Here’s how it solves problems pertaining to the traditional hiring process:
- Hiring from Shiny is quite flexible both time and budget-wise, you can hire a CMO for 2 hours a week or 20
- The marketplace is highly affordable; you can start hiring a CMO for as low as $60 per hour
- The vetting team will test and hand-pick 5 CMOs and give you a shortlist in 48 hours, all you have to do is interview and finalize a CMO out of the 5
- Marketplace has CMOs in more than 40 industries, including eCommerce, SaaS, FinTech, and many more
- Doesn’t take a commission from the client-side
Want to know how to hire a CMO through Shiny?
Here’s a video that will walk you through the whole hiring process step by step.
Why Choose Shiny Over Other Marketplaces?
Visiting a talent marketplace to hire a CMO saves you the time and effort to do all the steps mentioned above in the How to Hire a CMO section.
But there’s a catch! When it comes to hiring an executive-level employee, not every marketplace can give you vetted talent.
Vetting is the process of thoroughly testing a candidate before selecting them. A vetting process makes it easy for you to make hiring decisions.
One major advantage that the vetting process gives any business is that it saves time for the interviewers. They only interview the qualified candidates who have passed the vetting process.
The vetting process becomes all the more important when you want to hire a C-suite.
As mentioned above, Shiny has a team that tests their candidates specifically according to your job description and gives you a shortlist to interview.
If your business needs a strong marketing boost to take your products to new heights, hiring a CMO is your best bet.
When hiring a CMO, you have two options: do the process all by yourself, which will most probably take weeks (or even months), or use a fractional talent marketplace like Shiny to get a CMO on board in just 48 hours.
No matter which option you choose, hire a successful CMO that’s in line with your company’s product, vision, and mission.