CMO Huddles

Job Hunting Tips for CMOs: 6 Must-Know Strategies to Stand Out

July 09, 2024 4:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

“It’s so disheartening,” shared a 3x CMO, “I’ve never been a better candidate but keep coming up short.” In case you’ve been under a rock, it’s a brutal market for CMOs in transition. And unless interest rates drop, it’s likely to stay that way through 2024.

There simply aren’t enough openings, especially in B2B, to meet the supply of highly effective CMOs. This situation is taking an emotional toll that decreases the chances of these otherwise talented professionals securing their next opportunity. It’s a vicious cycle. And while a healthier emotional state won’t create more roles, it along with the steps outlined below can make the process less painful.

Reconnect With Your Strengths

Step 1 requires calling a wide range of former colleagues and seeking candid feedback. Ask for brutal honesty on your strengths and shortcomings. Your listening tour will serve multiple purposes. You’ll be reminded of you at your best and where you found the most joy. You’ll know who you can count on for references. And you’ll draft some allies for your search. Don’t hesitate to call any of them. They know they are only one missed sales target away from being in your shoes.

Join a Peer Group

Do not go it alone. Knowing others are in the same situation is somewhat comforting but helping others (when you’re down) is uplifting. Your peer group needs to meet regularly with a defined process, set agendas, and homework assignments. When you prep someone for an interview or review their latest content, you’ll be reminded of your overall competency. And you’ll be grateful for the thoughtful feedback from a peer.

Define Your Personal Brand

Apply your strategic marketing skills to yourself. Write down your superpower(s) and other points of difference. Draft a personal manifesto that covers why you are in marketing in the first place and the impact you have at organizations. Write your draft and then discuss it with members of your peer group. If you use terms like data-driven and high-achieving, go deeper. You’ll know you have it right when it drives your content. [Ask me for the CMO Huddles personal branding worksheet.]

Identify Your Top 25

Employers are close–mindedly looking for 5x5 matches. The 5 areas are category, growth stage, target (enterprise, SMB), ownership structure (PE, VC, public, private), and physical location. Use that knowledge to your advantage by creating a list of 25 companies that align with your most recent experience(s) and current location. This list will drive your outbound marketing campaign (see next step).

Execute Your Outbound

This is a lot of work so pace yourself. It involves creating content, searching your network for possible introductions, and a touch of stalking. Think of each piece of content (like a written post on LinkedIn) as a “love letter” to one CEO on your Top 25. This post offers meaty advice to that CEO based on your unique category insights. If you have a LinkedIn connection with that CEO, ask them to share your post. If you don’t, start engaging (aka stalking) the CEO on LinkedIn or elsewhere. You can also try email, calling, and direct mail. 

Hone Your Skills

Many CMOs in transition are there for the first time. Any athlete or artist knows that their skills only stay sharp with constant and well-structured practice. Establish a rigorous interview prep process (ideally one that gets you to eye opening insights). Start tracking the questions you are asked and the answers you provide in interviews. Review those with a member of your peer group.

Written by Drew Neisser

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