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5 Qualities to Look for in Your Next Content Hire

By Brianne Carlon RushApr 3, 2014

hiring content creatorsWhen Kuno Creative hired me, I officially became the sole member of the agency’s Content Department. Over the past two years, that department has grown to include more than a handful of in-house creative members with the certainty of a few more over the coming months. Yes, we are hiring—aggressively. As the need for quality content continues to grow for businesses, so, too, does our need for talented writers.

On some scale, your business may be experiencing this same need for content creators. If not, what the heck are you waiting for? If you think content marketing is a passing fad—content shock and all that business—you’re only shooting yourself in the foot. While Mark Schaefer had some great points we should all think about, everyone from Sonia Simone to Joe Pulizzi have come out in defense of content marketing. (Yes, they are biased. Yes, they provided actual reasoning to support their views.)

Truth be told, high-caliber content hires are one part of the strategy you need to have in place to survive content shock.

But content is a tough position to fill. It’s hard to know what to look for in candidates. These past two years have provided a lot of insight into what qualities are essential, what my content department could live without and, most importantly, when to say, “You’re hired!” Here, I offer you my lessons learned.


It is imperative content creators have:

 

A Journalistic or Extremely Strong Writing Background

People don’t go to school for or get degrees in “content marketing.” It is a relatively new field, so the people who are qualified for these positions may not even know about them or they just aren’t sure about them.

Of those who apply, seek out applicants with a journalism or public relations background. They understand their audiences, know how to sniff out a good story and are fantastic with deadlines. There are others that may fit the bill, too, such as English or marketing majors, but you must ensure they are comfortable interviewing subjects and writing all day long.

Bottom line: Hire writers with a newspaper, magazine or robust public relations background.

Empathy

This term is often used to refer to the ability to feel sympathy for another human. I am simply using it to state that content creators must be able to put themselves into their audiences’ mindsets. What do they care about? Where do they want to get their information? What will make them change their minds?

These questions can only be answered after speaking to these audiences and asking them relevant questions. In other words, an interview. Yes, your content creators need to be able to interview stakeholders and customers to understand the type of content they should create, the format it should be created in, the frequency with which it should be distributed and the tone it should have. Without truly putting yourself into the minds of your buyers, your content will suffer from an overarching irrelevance.

Bottom Line: Find people who can step outside their own perspective to offer valuable insight into their audiences’ perspective.

The Ability to Think Analytically and Creatively

Content is largely creative, but it needs an analytical eye, too. This is an incredibly difficult combination to find in most people. Trust me, I know. In fact, at one point during my search for a third team member, it took me nine months to find the right person! 

But the truth is content creators need to be coming up with new ideas all day long. This isn’t easy, even for a creative soul. Luckily, there are usually analytics that can be reviewed to understand what content is working, what efforts are not working and what ideas should be expanded upon. However, if your content team cannot decipher these things from the data given, the whole endeavor is in big trouble.

Bottom line: Look for someone who can think creatively but also values analytics to make smarter content decisions.

An Impressive Social Profile

Another opportunity to combat content shock over the next few years will be to promote your people, not your products. It is so important that your employees have already built up a strong social profile where they talk about the latest industry news, share their unique view and offer great tips for readers. Check social channels for vulgar language, lingering negativity and other behaviors that set off mental “NO” alarms in your mind.

Bottom line: Hire applicants with a professional yet welcoming approach to social media.

An Excellent Fit with the Company Culture

There has been a huge push lately for defining and following “company culture.” (Check out buffer’s take on it here.) At Kuno, we are moving toward a flexible, remote working culture based on mutual respect and success. We need people who are comfortable working in this type of environment. People who need a lot of structure and are not comfortable in an environment that changes often simply won’t work out. 

Think of your company culture like a set of guidelines or values your employees should abide by. Find hires who won’t disrupt this culture, but rather thrive in it. If you need a little help making this connection, check out this robust article from The Bridgespan Group.

Bottom line: Would you want to be stranded with this person at the airport? Yes=hire them. No= keep looking.

Your employees are a huge factor in your company’s success. And the content you are creating will either help solidify new leads and customers or disappear into the abyss. Look for people with these five qualities to ensure your brand overcomes content shock and continues to grow.

What qualities do you look for in content creators? Let us know in the comment section below!

Creating Content for Marketing Automation
photo credit: Martin Gommel
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The Author

Brianne Carlon Rush

After developing the Kuno Creative content marketing department and growing it by 500%, Brianne has expanded her role to help grow the inbound marketing agency in size, revenue and resources. She now focuses on sales and marketing alignment; employee recruiting, hiring and development; and communication strategies, while still dedicating time to client strategy and Kuno’s marketing efforts.
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