And I suspect that what makes it hard for us as recruiters also makes it hard for marketing job seekers. First, let me say that I am not complaining because what makes my job hard is also one of the things I enjoy most about it.It takes a “special“ kind of person to be a recruiter...just ask my friends ; )
Focused on other functional spaces, a recruiter can generally assume that a person with a certain title has certain skills. I'm not going to call out specific functions because my intent isn't to say “my job is harder than your job”. I'm sure there are other functional areas that face the same challenges as marketing.
The thing that makes marketing tough is that there are so many functions that are considered marketing (I tend to think of them as “business“ functions). When I first started my blog, I created a post explaining some of the big “buckets” that we recruit for in the marketing space. But really, when I think about it, mostly we recruit by title and then go through a “discovery” process. For example, I will actively seek out product managers. The challenge is figuring out what they really do when you get them on the phone. Because in my world, one product manager is not the same as another. The jobs aren't the same and the candidates aren't the same. A product manager focused on analyzing emerging markets is different than a product manager focused on feature strategy. Both of those are different than a product manager focused on go-to-market strategies. And then the specifics of domain knowledge add to the complexity...a product manager in the server space is different than one focused on a consumer product. Certainly provides for a lot of variety in what I recruit for ; )
So when I call up (cold-call) a Product Manager at XYZ company, I rarely know what kind of marketing he/she is responsible for until I get into the conversation with him/her. Or until I get his resume. And engaging in the conversation and collecting the resume creates additional responsibilities on my part as far as follow-up; which really doesn't lend itself well to identifying large populations of candidates with similar backgrounds. If you have ever sent me a resume, I probably told you something along the lines of: “if a recruiter finds a position that matches, they will contact you directly”. I wish I could provide more info to candidates but without owning the positions myself, it's not possible to provide direct follow-up with every single person I am in contact with (wish I could though...I understand that it's important to you). But I do get very excited to see some of the fantastic people contacting me to be considered for roles at Microsoft.
I would equate this to a candidate doing a job search where he could only search for jobs based on title. If he/she wanted to know more than the title, he would have to call up the recruiter and have a conversation and then follow up with the recruiter to let them know if he/she is interested. It's not that efficient of a process, really.
On the flip side, I really enjoy the “needle-in-a-haystack” searching. It's cool to know that there's one great person out there for a position and it's my job to figure out who they are. Aside from the experience of helping people navigate a major life decision, this recruiting detective work is what really keeps me going.
I guess our challenge to understand how to appropriately identify marketing talent could be equated to a customer segmentation exercise...one where customer behaviors are not particularly public. So you customer segmentation experts out there...how do you solve this challenge? How do you go about identifying pockets of similar candidates out there in the market with little more than their name, company and title? Or should we consider this more of a sales exercise than a marketing exercise?