Not sending a thank–you letter is one of the mistakes applicants make that was highlighted by CMOs at the FlipMyFunnel conference in Boston.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a chance to find out from interviewers themselves whether a thank-you email would be appreciated and what questions you would be expected to ask?
At the FlipMyFunnel conference on August 11 in Boston, attendees had exactly that opportunity during the “How to become the CMO of the future” session! The panel, moderated by Katie Martell, partner at Edison Partners, included Brian Kardon, CMO at Fuze, Shelley Eleby, CMO at Clearpool Group, and Claudine Bianchi, CMO at ClickSoftware.
Evidently, these CMOs have built and grown numerous marketing teams, so the discussion quickly turned to how they interview and hire their team members and what they look for in a candidate. Here are some take-aways that will help you prepare for and land a marketing, communications or any other job:
1. Research the company and industry. Prepare questions.
One of the red flags for Claudine Bianchi is if the candidates does not ask any questions. She remarks that successful applicants ask “thoughtful questions” that demonstrate that they have read the company’s website, blog, and other company resources. As a candidate you need to talk about what makes the company different from the competition, what aspects of the business you are excited about, and why you would be absolutely happy to join the team.
2. Follow up with a thank-you note.
Katie Martell lamented about the lack of follow-up: “We’ve spent an hour together. You don’t have anything to say?” So follow up with a thank-you email with your reflections on why you think you are a great fit for this role and on the topics discussed during the interview. Applicants used to send hand-written thank-you cards, now there is often not even an email…This is your chance to stand out!
3. Demonstrate superb communication skills.
Brian Kardon is looking for candidates with good communication skills. He checks that by questioning candidates on something he doesn't know much about but that they know very well, such as their hobby. He then pays close attention to the candidates’ ability to explain something new and unknown to him.
4. Tell a story and give examples of how you work.
The panel agreed on the value of telling a story when giving examples of your work: How did you collaborate with sales? Who did you talk to? How did you persuade your team to embark on this project? Give examples of your work that demonstrate your initiative and leadership and share the metrics.
5. Talk about your failures as lessons.
Honesty is one of the traits Brian looks for in candidates. Often at work, we only speak about how well we did something, hiding mistakes, which is unrealistic. We all make mistakes. Talk about what did not work, how you recovered from it and what you learned in the process. Are you talking about a mistake as a learning experience or as a failure? Your attitude towards mistakes will highlight your optimism and ability to recover from failures.
6. Demonstrate your passion and skills.
Both are important. Shelley Eleby also noted that you should like your job since you are going to work there every day and it is an important part of your life.
How to become the CMO of the Future?
The panel discussed how to be successful in your role as a CMO and how to prepare to become the CMO of the Future:
Partnering with sales, CFO, and board members
One of the questions from the audience was from a CMO a few weeks into her role who needed to present her 30-60-90 day plan to the board. She asked for advice on working with the board. “Board meeting should not be the world-premiere of your plan,” Brian replied. He recommended making connections with some of the board members to get their feedback in advance of the board meeting and also to have some “friends in the room”. The other suggestion was to ask the board members to introduce you to CMOs of other companies in their portfolio or become a member of the professional local CMO clubs and associations to get advice from your peers. To get a better understanding of your company and industry, speak with customers (the board will like you more for doing so), listen in on the tech support calls and sit in on sales demos.
The common thread throughout most of the presentations at the conference was the need to partner with sales: How often do you speak with your sales team? When was the last time you took a sales rep out? Do you know what the sales teams are currently working on?
Brian also shared how befriending a CFO could be helpful for a marketer. Sometimes he runs his proposal by the CFO first, before presenting it to the CEO, to get feedback and backing.
CMO – the future CEO?
Claudine spoke about the trend of CMOs becoming CEOs. She mentioned how she is preparing to play a bigger role within the company by learning about finances and legal matters.
Hopefully you are now inspired to take the next bold step in your career! Check out our Job Seeker’s guide for more tips on the job search.
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