What are the best skills for a new hire at a digital or interactive agency?

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Try to find people with a solid foundation and understanding of marketing. From there they can be introduced to different technology. The biggest transition I've seen over the past few years in the rapid change in tools. Traditional direct mail is shifting to more digitally based interactive marketing. The skills are usually easily transferable as long as the person has the willingness, desire and intellectual horsepower in place.

An innovative mindset and certainly analytical skills will carry over to the technology space. Creative thinking is also helpful because you're always looking for the next best idea that's going to capture attention. Usually you can see that from the track record built throughout one's career. What sort of out-of-the-box thinking have they done and what results have they had through innovative proposals and implementations? So the foundation is what you looking for. The rest is just another tool.

In this age of folks being inundated with traditional and certainly electronic mail, we expect marketing candidates to find out how to stand out. The hiring manager should ask questions like this to see where the candidates thoughts are. If they say ‘what's best is to send thousands of pieces of mail,' you should ask what else they're willing to do. If they say, ‘that's the only thing I've seen work,' well they're the wrong person. They're stuck back a few decades. Not everyone has made the transition successfully.

Keep in mind that the market for highly qualified DM talent is as tight as ever.  Your goal, whether hiring from within or outside the company, is to find the candidate whose skills are best aligned with your organization's current and future business strategies. As long as the candidate demonstrates strengths from his or her previous position a willingness to learn, passion and the capacity to establish “next practices,” it will be a good hire.  

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