How to Find the Best Marketing and Sales Talent

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"The top skill is curiosity. You want people who are not just going to stay in one place and who [want to] adapt. So people need to be curious about new things, excited about innovation, and ultimately they really need to be open to shifts in the future, and be ready to work together to make a company that can adapt to those shifts."

That quote is from Krystle Kopacz, CEO of publishing consulting firm Revmade, during a video interview she did on Publishing Executive. Finding new talent in marketing, advertising and sales these days is not easy. A new report from the Association of National Advertising (ANA) Educational Foundation—titled Bridging The Talent Disconnect: Charting The Pathways To Future Growth—provides a blueprint to improve the pipeline and ideas to help draw the right talent now.

Here are 6 takeaways:

1. As Kopacz said, the ability to adapt to shifts is huge. "The number of channels by which we commu­nicate has proliferated," said Shawn Zupp, group account director, R/GA. "The touchpoints are far greater because the tech changes so quickly. You need everyone on the team to have the ability to quickly analyze and think through how to respond with the right message in the right channel." Interestingly, creativity and critical thinking are talked about time and again in the report. And the demand for creative services (35%) is actually higher than the supply (27%) right now.

2. The importance of onboarding... employees. We talk about onboarding for our subscribers/members but do we do it well enough with our employees? "New hires are expected to hit the ground running when they join a company," says the report. "At many companies, there is little to no onboarding process, while any form of training to help that new hire acclimate to the... culture is minimal at best."

3. Finding talent may take new directions. "The folks that I see going into what I see as the best marketing jobs are not even coming out of business schools," said Gregory LaBlanc, Berkeley Haas School of Business. "They are coming out of computer science departments, engineering schools and even physics departments." I always hark back to a sales executive saying the he found his best sales people in the teaching ranks: "They're always bright, have worked their tails off for not a lot of money and are very process-oriented."

4. The younger generation has different values. A Deloitte study of more than 7,500 millennials showed that more than 50% would be willing to take a pay cut if the job aligned with their values. "These are hard-to-find people, so retention is becoming a key issue for us," said John Montgomery, executive vice president, Global Brand Safety, Group. "We need to work on changing social norms and what may motivate a younger, more digitally savvy audience—they're informal, issues-driven people. We're competing with Google, Snapchat, and Facebook."

5. More and more, it's a multicultural world. A McKinsey study found that ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their peers. "Despite best inten­tions, the marketing and advertising industries have historically lagged in hiring and recruiting diverse talent," the report says. The Hispanic and Asian American markets are huge now but take their own sensitivities to approaching right. Partnering with community colleges or local ethnic groups can provide a start.

6. There's a disconnect between the skills needed and the skills available. A McKinley Partners marketing study found a big imbalance between the digital marketing labor supply (24%) and the digital marketing labor demand (56%). "It's not enough to know how to analyze a problem," the report says. "It's about identifying what the data is actually saying and then acting upon that data to drive a business decision."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…