Hello! You must be a recruiter or hiring manager looking to hire a marketing operations professional. 👋

Let’s be honest — unless you, yourself, are in the field of marketing operations, it can be hard to understand the role or what qualifies a professional. Marketing operations is a relatively new field, and there is not much documentation out there.

I’m writing this post because I have had many recruiters and hiring managers reach out over the last few months, asking my advice on how to find the best talent, or asking if I can help them source marketing operations professionals.

I’m here to help. Let’s get started.

Where should I look?

Where you look for these candidates can make or break your search, in my opinion. My recommendations:

  1. LinkedIn – Pretty much everyone in the professional world has a LinkedIn, especially those who are in marketing. LinkedIn has recruiting search tools that can be very helpful in narrowing down searches to the expertise that you are looking for.
  2. Account Executives – Yes, you read that correctly; if you ask your Pardot/Marketo AE which Partner has the best talent, that may help point you in the right direction. They also may know some non-consultant talent out there as well.
  3. Community – Most martech platforms have community portals; it’s worth posting in there and asking if anyone knows of talent in a specific software or area.

Pro tip: If you know marketing operations folks, you can ask them if they know anyone as well. We have our own Slack groups where we share job descriptions that our friends/friendly people are hiring for. That being said, don’t harass — asking once will get you a “yes” or a “no”/silence.  🙂 Remember to include a job description link and a blurb about why someone should be attracted to that role/the company.

What should I look for in a marketing operations professional?

This is where many folks start to get anxious or trip up. There are so many martech platforms and so many different types of talent out there. Some things I recommend asking yourself/the hiring manager you are working with:

  1. What is the most important technical skill/platform knowledge for this marketing operations professional to have?
  2. What is the most important personality trait for this role?
  3. Does it matter if this person is in-office or remote? (Pro tip: much of the best talent prefers remote, so offering this option will help your search greatly)

This should help you get a better picture of exactly what your hiring manager is looking for, and will help you quickly eliminate candidates in your search.

If I may offer a suggestion, I find three traits to be the most important in our arena: a natural sense of curiosity, a passion for marketing operations and ongoing education, and the ability to lead (which includes knowing how to push back in a persuasive and educational way, even against management). 💡

How should I qualify the level of talent a marketing operations professional has?

I’ve seen a lot of misses in this area; deciding if someone is talented or just a great resume writer/fluffer.

I will say this; in the marketing operations world, years of experience does NOT equal skill. I know a lot of young talent that is skill-hungry and constantly learning inside and out of work — and I also have met older folks who have been resting on their laurels and are not as they seem on their resume when push comes to shove. Hiring based on years of experience alone is a huge mistake. An expensive mistake. Hire for someone’s hunger to learn and the level of effort that they put into their work.

In my opinion, the best interviews include a live technical exam. The point here is not to include “gotchas”, but to get a sense of someone’s level of expertise and how they handle pressure. I do not act inhuman with these; people sometimes get nervous and mis-speak or make small mistakes. To me, these are not disqualifiers. I can still get a sense of whether someone isn’t qualified or is just nervous. (By the way, you can hire me to run a technical exam for you — just write to me on my Consulting page or write into my Drift chatbot)

Remember that certifications are not the end-all, be-all. People can be very book/exam-smart and still not know the technology as well as others. Certifications are a good sign, but it still worth getting a better sense of their familiarity.

That being said, hiring someone who has been in the exact same role you’re hiring for is lame and also probably a mistake. Give a marketing operations professional a chance to grow, and they will generally reward you with loyalty and 110% effort. If you hire someone who has already had the exact experience you’re looking for, they will probably get bored quickly and leave if you aren’t able to promote them or give them new projects.

Also, and I cannot stress this enough — treat your candidate as though they already work for your company. The marketing operations market is flooded with demand (open roles) and doesn’t have enough qualified candidates to keep up. If you act like you are “too good” for the candidate or do not care about their experience while getting to know more about you and the company, they will move forward with other opportunities. This is the reality of the market, and, well — treating talent well is also just the right thing to do. The best hiring managers and recruiters have been as transparent as possible, have sought feedback each step of the way, and have kept me in the loop, especially if there is some kind of unexpected hold-up (hiring manager out on PTO during final week, etc).

Always keep in mind that the hiring process is meant to identify the value that a candidate can bring to your company. It should include excitement about the possibilities! It should NOT be an attempted interrogation for a candidate’s flaws or a search for a perfect person.

How should I set up my new marketing operations professional for success?

Make sure you plan for your hire’s growth as you interview them for your open role. Listen carefully to them when they talk about areas they would like to grow in. Ask them what drives them crazy. Many folks will be hesitant to answer honestly, but it’s important to know how you can ensure they are happy with your company and team. And I mean this whole-heartedly — do NOT lie about the state of your team or company. If things are a mess, tell them that! Tell them the task at hand, and tell them how you will enable them to be successful in the clean-up. Again, remember — the interview process goes both ways. It is not an interrogation to find a flaw, it is an opportunity to learn about each other and to imagine how you could help each other. If you start the relationship with your new hire based on a lie or with an interrogative tone, do not expect them to accept your offer or, if they do, to stay very long.

One last tip, and this is important — be their advocate. MOPs folks are used to being ragdolled by the marketing team, the sales team, executives, etc — there are many cooks in the kitchen and many demands by many loud voices. If you advocate for your MOPs talent and protect them from being jerked around too much by other groups, you will earn their respect and appreciation. This goes a LONG way in the eyes of marketing operations professionals.

What if I still need help?

If you’re still scratching your heard, I do offer consulting services, and am happy to hop on a call to talk through what you are looking for and/or to do a technical interview of a marketing operations professional. In general, remember — this is a new type of role for many recruiters, so you are not alone. Just do the best you can!



Sara McNamara is a Senior Marketing Operations Manager and top-tier Salesforce/Pardot senior consultant that has been recognized as a “Top B2B Marketer to Watch” by Salesforce Pardot, a “Unicorn” by Marketo, a “Trailblazer in B2B Marketing” by Salesforce Trailhead, an “Ops Pro Shaping The Future of B2B Marketing” by Drift.com, and a “B2B Marketing Automation All-Star” by ChiefMarketer.com. Sara has a special place in her heart for marketing operations, reality TV, Kanye West, huskies, and people who don’t call her about something that could have been a text/don’t request a meeting about something that could have been an email.

Sara is honored to be the very first B2B marketing Trailblazer to be recognized and featured by Salesforce Trailhead, as well as featured in the first Trailblazers in B2B Marketing | Powered by Pardot magazine and featured at Salesforce Tour events around the world. She is also a Marketo Certified Expert and cosigned by Jill Rowley, the greatest sales professional of all time. 🐐 She has a hell of a lot to say and you can catch her thoughts on Twitter at @ifeellikemacmac, on LinkedIn, and at various marketing events in the United States. You can also catch peeks of Sara featured at Salesforce Tour events worldwide. 🌎

One Comment

  • Meredith N Hewinson says:

    This article is spot-on, Sara! Such an emerging role, with an ever-growing and changing martech environment, years of experience can lead you astray, when you need fresh eyes who can understand the ecosystem of both process and technology (and usually some politics).

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