The perfect chocolate chip cookie. Is there such a thing?
You might like your cookie soft, gooey, and right out of the oven, while your sister prefers a crispy cookie—one that sits on the pan a bit and hardens after it comes out. Your mom might like walnuts in hers, and your dad might go for the milk chocolate chips instead of the semi-sweet. When you make cookies for your best friend, you know to go heavy-handed on the sugar and decorate with sprinkles.
While this might make it difficult to bake for a family party, the truth is there’s no recipe that’s going to produce everyone’s perfect cookie. We all have different preferences, palates, needs, and cravings.
The same is true for recruiting a copywriter. Because every company has its own taste buds; you need the smart cookie on your team that will fit your company’s needs.
Unlike many other disciplines, the profession of copywriting isn’t governed by a set of established standards. There are no official boards or regulatory bodies. No one is overseeing educational or licensing qualifications. Just like there’s no perfect chocolate chip cookie, there’s no standardized “perfect copywriter.”
So what’s a hiring manager to do?
There’s one question you need to ask yourself before you begin recruiting a copywriter, before you write and post your ad, evaluate the inflow of resumes, or conduct interviews: what does your brand actually need from your new hire? From there, you’ll be able to decide if your perfect candidate—your “perfect chocolate chip cookie copywriter”—is within your reach.
The Essential Ingredients: Compile a List of Basic Requirements for Recruiting a Copywriter
Save for the basic requirement of, of course, being a “good writer,” you’ll need to pinpoint—and prioritize—your copywriting wants in order to attract the right candidates. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Level: Would your new copywriter be senior, junior, mid-level, or a mix?
- Industry: Should they be familiar with a certain industry, like technical writing or food writing?
- Format: What will they be writing on a day-to-day basis? Will they be focusing on a certain type of content writing, like video scripts, or web pages?
- Other responsibilities: Outside of writing, what will their responsibilities be? This could include performing campaign analytics, managing assets, managing external vendors (like freelance writers, web designers, and SEM vendors), and more?
- Success: How will you measure success?
These are your basic needs—the “flour and sugar” of every chocolate chip cookie recipe. But those ingredients aren’t enough. To drive real success, you need a candidate who goes beyond the basics.
The Secret Ingredients: Consider Your Candidate’s Unique Strengths
With that said, it can be difficult to tell through a resume or cover letter—or even a writing sample—what really makes your candidate special. You want your new copywriting recruit to fit seamlessly into your company culture and possess the appropriate skills and desirable personality traits that are necessary for the job at your company.
Therefore, when evaluating a candidates strengths, here are some questions you might want to answer:
- Pace: Is the pace of your marketing—and your company culture—quick and productive (requiring fast work and precise deadline orientation), strategic and thoughtful (requiring productive ideas and careful execution), or somewhere in between? At what pace does your candidate operate?
- Strategy vs. execution: Do you need creators or executors? Another way to ask this: if you had to choose only one, would you prefer that your new copywriters create strategies—or implement them? Is it more important that they contribute to your big picture strategies, or be painstakingly attentive to details (such as your brand style guide)? Where does your candidate fall?
- Creativity vs. logic: If you had to choose only one, do you want your copywriters to be brilliant at creative right-brain concepts (think ads and taglines) or logical left-brain narratives (think blog posts and ebooks)? How does your candidate think?
- Reporting: Can it be tough to pin down time with your thought leaders and subject matter experts—and extract information from them? If so, you may need a particularly gifted and inquisitive reporter to chase them down and draw them out. Does this sound like your candidate?
Don’t Forget About the Weaknesses
Okay, you’ve vetted your interviewees and found a fast-paced, strategic, and creative individual—the delicious combination your brand is looking for! But it’s true what they say: nobody’s perfect. Even the very best in the biz can’t do it all.
Maybe your candidate nailed the interview and presented exceptional writing samples. But when you speak with their references, their former boss says they’re a pain to work with. Or, your candidate was previously an all-star in the journalism industry; even the most stellar reporters can fail to write good copy. Perhaps they showed exceptional logic and problem-solving skills, but their writing samples are riddled with spelling errors. Or your candidate turns in an impeccable writing sample—three days late.
Even if your candidate showcases top-notch talent, you have to discern which weaknesses you can deal with. In other words, the cookie comes out of the oven too soft; do you eat it anyway, or do you start over?
Delicious Copy, Baked to Order
Recruiting a copywriter whose words make your customers melt can leave you beat. Identifying your requirements. Evaluating every candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Partnering with a recruiter, in some cases. The drawn-out interviews you’ll likely have to conduct. While the process could bring you your dream hire, it could also be a recipe for disaster.
If you’re looking for an easier solution that will deliver creative copy and produce tangible results, our team of creatives is ready to rise to the challenge.