In my 30-odd years of professional life, I have found that there are gems who bring value to the business, and there are riffraff who bring mere entertainment, or worse, cause problems for busineses.

It is not difficult to tell which is a gem and which is a pretender – a simple conversation will suffice. It comes with experience at my level of studying candidates and people and it is part of my job as a human resource professional.

When I was 15, I was already managing sales and marketing projects, with my magic performances, selling packaged magic tricks to fellow students. I created my own brand of products, sealed with my dad’s sealing machine and collaterals created on a typewriter (yes, those were the days before desktop publishing, Mac or anything fancy). So, I have a lineage of sales and marketing experience across the entire supply chain since my childhood till now.

For competitive industries, hire the right marketing lead.

It is a nail-biting, razor-thin market, and you cannot hire charlatans who merely push people and papers around, barking empty jargon with no experience from the real world.

For example, someone who worked in a junior role in a large non-profit organization, will not be a good match for a cash-strapped startup or emerging business facing immense competition, unless of course, such a person is willing to start at the bottom.

So how should you hire?

1) Attitude – is this candidate humble and eager to learn, and work cordially with anyone and everyone along the entire supply chain to make things happen for the sake of the company?

2 Relevance – does this candidate have similar experience at a for-profit company, especially cash-strapped businesses that can push maximum deliverables with the least?

3) Action – does this candidate work HANDS-ON, and is happy and humble enough to know that leaders lead in front, take full responsibility, and get their hands and feet dirty to propel the company from loss to profit?

4) Profit – does this candidate have experience in understanding profit, and working in razor-thin margin industries, and know how to FOCUS on the right metrics of profit/loss rather than vanity metrics? I would especially place importance on a candidate who has done field sales before, and are willing to plow the fields and seek out opportunities. Wallflowers and cowards need not apply.

You are cash-strapped. You need to survive. You cannot stand nonsense. You need to hire the right candidate who will propel you, not cripple you.