10 Make-or-Break Skills a Content Marketing Professional Needs to Succeed

When you have a content marketing professional vacancy, it can be difficult to narrow down the hundreds upon hundreds of applicants. Job listings online and word-of-mouth can produce unmanageable numbers of applications. So many of the applicants have a great resume and fit with the job requirements.

How do you narrow down this list of qualified candidates to a manageable number?

Consider these 10 critical skills to make it easier to select the right candidate for your open position. This collection can help you take a list of 100s of applicants down to 5-10 truly qualified candidates, giving you that manageable number you seek for the interview stage.

1) Writing expertise

Content marketing is, by definition, about creating a wide variety of valuable resources for your audience. This can include videos and infographics, but it also comes in standard writing form. Without writing expertise and experience, a content marketing professional would be missing an essential part of his or her career.

Take a moment to consider the words of Stephen King, one of the world’s most powerful writers. Smart Blogger’s Jon Morrow created a compilation of King’s inspirational quotes about writing from his book “On Writing.” If you want to take it a step further, grab a copy of King’s book on Amazon. Any legit writing professional will have read this book.

When you’re looking at job applications, pay attention to the candidates’ writing. This includes grammar and spelling, but it also includes the way they express themselves. A cover letter is great for this.

Ask for a cover letter, and check to see how the candidate formats their writing. Does it align well with what you want to see in your business’ content? Check the tone they use to see if it’s either too formal or too casual for your business’ content guidelines.

Another good way to evaluate a candidate’s writing skills is to see whether he or she can express a point clearly and quickly all while offering high value. Longer explanations can bore your audience, so a candidate needs to demonstrate a strong ability to inform at a to-the-point level. Remember, rumor has it that humans now have an attention span that’s shorter than the goldfish!

2) Trend savvy

When content creators are in action, they’re always keeping an eye out for new trends and techniques in their industry. This allows them to create fully optimized and popular content for your business.

Along the same lines, a content marketing professional should be on the lookout for mainstream trends that may benefit a business’ reach and popularity. For example, a blog headline that mentions a relevant, current trend can bring more traffic to your site. You’ll often see blog posts that incorporate celebrity news to increase traffic. People will be talking about that celebrity or searching for that topic on social media and Google Search, so it would be to your benefit to have a content writer who uses that to your advantage.

Also, a content marketer can use their trend-savvy skills to promote their content in the best ways for appeal and click-throughs. The next step is simply to keep the visitors sticking around on your website, but that’s where some of the other skills come into play, such as…

3) Creativity

Content marketing is all about being creative. Without this absolutely essential skill, your content marketer will not be able to take your business ahead. Creativity is what makes your business stand out in the crowd of competitive content you see every day. Without it, your content won’t likely attract and retain visitors to your social media, site, and blog. They’ll go to your competition.

What is considered creative in content marketing? Well, these are some of the ways:

  • Using a catchy or even provocative headline in your article is a great way to use your creative mind to get click-throughs.
  • Creating infographics and images with your own graphics instead of stock imagery demonstrates a creative touch.
  • Also, video is now a huge element to any content marketing strategy, and it, too, requires an extensive amount of creativity to stand out.

When you’re evaluating a candidate’s creative nature, see whether he or she has samples of their work to share with you. They don’t have to be work-related if the candidate has a side hobby. Use these samples to judge whether that candidate is worth pursuing further. In short, make sure that the candidate’s samples align well with what you want to see them make for your own business.

4) Commitment to continuous education

Marketing of any kind is never static. It changes every day. Content marketers need to know how to stay informed and why they should do so. A commitment to learning even past formal education is a must if they want to give your business an advantage. Learning means growing, and this growth will give marketers what they need to do their job effectively over time.

If a content marketing professional chooses to stick with the status quo, it will damage your business results. Just like with being trend-savvy, content marketers must know the best practices and recommended approaches that develop with time. This skill of continuous education will give a candidate the upper hand over those who stay in the past.

There is no better explanation of why education is important than this quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti:

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born till the moment you die is a process of learning. Learning has no end and that is the timeless quality of learning.”

To evaluate a candidate for this skill, see what certifications he or she has earned recently. Two of the most important certifications they should have for this role are both from HubSpot Academy:

If they don’t have these certifications or are not currently pursuing them, they aren’t as prepared for the content marketing field as those who have them.

5) Positivity

I’m going to explain this skill’s importance by telling you a story of someone who used a social trend to transform their negativity into a positive outlook on life. This is actually my story. I will then explain how it can pertain to your job vacancy and business.

About 4-5 years ago, I was full of negativity. People started calling me Eeyore and Debbie Downer. To be fair, I deserved their reactions. One day, I chose to fight against my own negativity, and that’s when I started the 100 Days of Happiness challenge on Facebook.

As a quick explanation, this daily challenge involved sharing a photo with a positive message or sign of gratitude from each day for 100 days. It could also be a video series.

I went through that entire 100 days without missing a single day, and by accident, it ended on my 25th birthday. The biggest lesson I learned was that life is so much easier and impactful when you are able to see the good in each day. From that point on, I’ve never let my old negativity sneak back into my thoughts and actions.

Now, how does this relate to finding a content marketing professional for your business?

When you’re examining each application, and you see the slightest sign of pessimism, keep this in mind: that pessimism can end up in your content. Your audience wants to feel inspired by your brand, so you need to find someone who truly has the positive mindset to produce what they want to see. A positive person will have the skill necessary to inspire while a negative person would more likely push your audience away.

6) Speed

If your business wants to keep up with the recommended flow of content production, you need a content marketing professional who has the speed to get content out there quickly and frequently without sacrificing quality. This is similar to skill #1 where writing needs to always be of high-quality.

You’ll find that quality always beats quantity in content marketing. This is true, but it doesn’t mean the fast-paced feed of content production will slow down for you. You need someone who can keep up the pace without affecting your content’s quality.

Sometimes, publishing content once a week may suffice, but that content better be long-form and good. Ideally, a business blog should have a writer, or even two or more writers, who can publish 3-5 times a week. All of those posts should provide value and follow blogging best practices to give your readers a reason to turn to you.

You won’t see positive results from content that is rushed, but your content marketer should have the ability to maintain a speedy schedule to build your blog presence.

7) Organization

A big part of being a content marketing professional, or any marketing category for that matter, is having the skill to remain organized. This involves more than you might think. It’s not just about having a clean desk or a navigable computer folder system. It’s about every element of the job.

A content marketer should know how to stay organized in such a way that others will be able to understand and follow. Teamwork is often key in marketing and even along with the sales department. You need to have a content marketer who will allow this collaboration with ease. Productivity depends on this team organization and so does your business.

Content marketing means being organized in these ways (among many others):

  • Filing system both on and offline
  • 3rd-party tools – their settings especially
  • The content calendar
  • The content strategy
  • The blog and social media scheduling systems

8) Research

A content marketing professional is always researching to create high-quality content. While you certainly want to include links to other parts of your own blog and website, including outbound links will improve your blog’s authority and SEO. It’ll help your readers, and it can also help you build relationships with those you cite.

In order to find reputable links and references for blog content, your ideal candidate should know how to research them with speed and ease. Their best ways of doing this are:

  • Subscribe to the top industry blogs via email, including competitors (using a different email address)
  • Collect articles and organize them in Dropmark or another tool for future reference and use (Example)
  • Read daily (printed books, Pocket saved articles, or Feedly feeds) and save their favorite lessons (highlighting, taking notes, etc.)

Research skills are a must for content marketing to work for your business. As an example, your staff could use this skill to spy on your competitors to see what they’re doing right and how your business could do it better. Competitor analysis requires extensive research, so your staff should know how to do it or, at minimum, know how to use the tools that can help.

9) Communication

Content marketers represent your business in the content they produce. Their writing in particular expresses your business’ tone and personality. If your candidate can write in the way that represents your brand, they just might be right for your business. Written communication skills are probably one of the most important skills in this list. The content they create can lead to a sale or take away an opportunity for one.

Another type of communication is verbal. Not only do content marketers need this for content creation, but they also need it for internal communication. A content marketing professional needs to communicate how and why they’re doing something for your business, and they’ll need to demonstrate how their work is bringing in results (ROI). This means the same for written internal communications, such as through email.

Communication skills give content marketers what they need for both internal and external efforts. If a candidate shows that they can do this when you evaluate their application, they should be brought further up your list of possibles. You need someone with strong communication abilities if they’re going to represent your business through content.

10) Patience and Persistence

Even though it might seem like these are two different skills, they work together. Content marketing doesn’t produce immediate results, especially if building from the very beginning. It’s part of the Inbound process, which takes time. However, with patience, you’ll see that boost in business you’re seeking. If a content marketing professional is able to work hard for the long term (with patience), they’re a good candidate for that role.

Persistence means working hard every day despite the frustration and exhaustion. Content marketing is hard work and requires a lot of effort. Your ideal candidate should know how to hold strong over time. When they’re persistent, they’ll bring more high-quality leads than those who don’t put in the same amount of effort or give up.


All content marketing professionals should have their own portfolio online. It should help them demonstrate to employers that they are capable and qualified to do the job. This is why I created my own marketing portfolio website. I use it for dual purposes:

  • Demonstrate to employers that I’m committed and capable
  • Assist my fellow marketers with their own efforts

If you’re having trouble deciding between candidates, look at what they’re producing online. Do they have a portfolio you can read through? How are they communicating on social media? These methods can help you find the right candidate for your open content marketing role.

Are You Still Looking For That Ideal Candidate?

My name is Annaliese Henwood, and I’m a content marketing professional for hire. If you’re still looking for someone who has these 10 skills to fill your open position, look no further than at me. I’m seeking a role in a remote environment or in Center City Philadelphia, PA. If this works for your needs, please contact me at annaliese@mktginnovator.com or call (267) 507-5656. Learn more about my qualifications by contacting me today!

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