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Ask the Recruiter: Fall 2020

Ask the Recruiter: Fall 2020

Julian Zeng

illustration of woman writing

We surveyed our audience on LinkedIn to collect their burning questions for recruiters, including whether more companies will accept remote job candidates, what the most important non-marketing-related skill is and how to build a personal brand 


  • Jess Forman, associate manager of marketing and media recruitment, Russell Tobin
  • Beth Wilson, director of recruitment strategy, Madison Wells

Given the pandemic, are companies more likely to consider remote candidates for a position? Or are they hiring with the mindset that business will eventually return to “normal” and prioritize hiring based on a candidate’s geographic location? 

Jess Forman: In my experience over the past few months, more companies have been opening up to the idea of having a chunk of their workforce remote. Some companies are still adamant about having candidates be in the office post-COVID, though. It depends on the company and what the job duties are. I do think that candidates living near the office will have a leg up, but that doesn’t mean someone remote isn’t a better, more qualified person for the job. It can’t hurt to apply—every company has a different goal and different idea of what will work for them. 

Beth Wilson: We have seen mixed results when it comes to organizations being dedicated to long-term virtual workforces. There are certainly more virtual opportunities than in the past; however, most of our clients prioritize local candidates that can eventually be in the office. We predict that a majority of companies will be more flexible with in-office expectations, with only a select number of organizations fully transitioning to a 100% virtual workforce once the pandemic abates. Additionally, candidates that are required to relocate will be afforded a much longer time period to execute the move. 


Candidates looking for virtual opportunities are encouraged to thoughtfully assess a company’s commitment to having a virtual workforce to predict if relocating will be an eventual requirement to gain access to other opportunities within the organization. For example, ask how much of the workforce is virtual, what long-term career planning options for virtual employees are available and if relocating in the future will increase opportunities. 

David Abbott: From what I’ve seen, clients are more open to hiring candidates with the understanding that they will onboard remotely, but most of my clients still want candidates to eventually come back into the office when it’s safe to do so. 

What’s the most important non-marketing-related skill you look for in an applicant? 

JF: When I look at someone’s resume, the first thing I tend to notice is how it’s written and how they have chosen to describe their experience. It’s a skill to explain your experience in detail without being too drawn out or adding too much information. How someone puts together their resume can say a lot about them, which is why it’s important that you take the time to only focus on the relevant experiences that you bring to the table, and then describe those things in detail using data points. Companies won’t know if you were successful in your role unless you back it up with numbers. 

BW: Communication and self-awareness—the ability to effectively communicate your candidate narrative and how you might fulfill the responsibilities of the role for which you are being considered—is imperative to stand out as an applicant. Candidates with self and business awareness also understand where their skillset might not match exactly; it is impressive when a candidate is able to communicate that understanding as well as how they can learn or acquire the skills needed to perform the job. Candidates who can communicate what they have done and what they want to do, articulate an understanding of the role for which they are being considered and why the job is interesting to them will stand out against their peers who might have the same skills on paper. 

DA: The most important non-marketing-related skill that I look for when speaking with applicants is the ability to convey an idea clearly and concisely. 

As someone pursuing a career in marketing research and consumer insights, what skills should an applicant pursuing a career in those fields have upon graduation? 

JF: I think the best way for a graduate to land the right role is to plan out internships that will give you real-life experience in the industry, but also take some continuing education courses online. Adding those experiences to your resume will show hiring managers that you are clear on what you want to do in your career, which will help you to stand out among the crowd. 

DA: It’s important for marketing research applicants to have experience with analytics programs such as Google Analytics and Excel. Having any internship or freelance experience working with data analytics is a big plus. 

As a recent marketing graduate, what are some of the most interesting things I can do to develop a personal brand? 

JF: You could create a blog discussing different marketing tactics you have used, post on LinkedIn or even start a social community discussing various marketing topics. I know this may seem scary, but you can’t build a brand if you aren’t getting your name out there. Coca-Cola built its brand off advertising—you need to do the same. Use social media to your advantage. 

DA: Finding a specialty that you’re interested in early on in your career can be really useful. Focus on making connections in a particular industry and learn that vertical inside and out. 

What channels do you use to source candidates aside from LinkedIn? 


  • Indeed: This is more targeted than LinkedIn because I know for a fact that whoever posted their resume is looking for a job. 
  • Referrals: Referrals are typically strong candidates. This gives you a reference on the candidate, especially if the person referring them is or was a coworker, rather than a family member or friend. 
  • Applicant tracking system: A lot of companies have some sort of ATS where they store resumes they receive, especially on the agency side—our ATS is the holy grail of resumes. If I were applying to jobs, I’d make sure every relevant staffing agency has a copy of my resume on file. We can search our entire database using keywords to find relevant resumes for the roles we are filling—which is another reason to make sure your resume has tons of important keywords that will help to describe your experience. 

BW: We have tapped into a variety of sources: other job boards (Indeed, Dice, icrunchdata, CPGJobs), networking events (WiRE, conferences), referrals from our contacts in the industry, GitHub searches and more. LinkedIn is certainly a top source, so having an up-to-date and compelling LinkedIn profile is the first place to start for candidates. 

Julian Zeng is omni-channel content manager at the American Marketing Association. He may be reached at