How To Hire A Paid Media Position (Complete Guide)

This is an excerpt of a masterclass presented by Jeff Sauer.

Making any new hire in your company is a risk and it’s important to choose the right time to do it. Hiring for paid media is no different, but doing it at the wrong time for your company can potentially be more costly than any other hire. We are going to share our journey and some of the pitfalls that we found along the way so that you don’t have to!

Part 1: When is the right time to hire a paid media position?

The Data Driven Journey

  1. Launched our PPC Course in 2015, using an email list to find customers.
  2. Started running Google AdWords campaigns to try and reach a wider audience. While we managed to break even and bring in some new customers, it took up so much time and effort that it was eating into profits.
  3. Returned to no- or low-cost advertising to increase sales in a way that enabled the business to grow in a profitable way. (Despite the fact that we are an advertising company, it just wasn’t the right strategy for us at that point in the business)
  4. Decided to try paid ads again to secure further growth for the business. We tried three different providers for this position, with varied results:
    • Provider #1 was an internal resource who worked on several different tasks for Data Driven. They did a great job and produced great results but their other tasks were getting in the way and didn’t enable full focus on the ads management. In addition, it wasn’t only running the campaigns, but analyzing the data that comes in and acting on it which we hadn’t really accounted for. This made us realise that we had a bit of work to do before we could come back and hire for a full-time media manager
    • Provider #2 was an ad agency. This provider was a total disaster, to put it mildly: Results were bad, costs were high and the leads were terrible!
    • Provider #3 was a freelancer who came in from a recommendation. This worked out much better than the previous provider but was limited by our strategy and assets. They suffered from being an outsider without full transparency into key strategic discussions, and results were impacted because of this.

Key Learnings

Although there were quite a few bumps in the road, we learned a lot from our journey. These are the top three takeaways that we would like to share with you so that you don’t make the same mistakes when hiring for paid media:

  1. You must have a strategy and assets if you want to be successful with paid advertising. For example, you need Analytics data, dashboards to manage it, landing pages to send people to, etc. Your strategy needs to be clearly defined (not just ‘Increase revenue’); you should know who you are targeting, how you want to target them, etc.
  2. You need to provide media managers with autonomy and resources if you want them to succeed.
  3. Your media manager needs to have a voice at the table when it comes to making key decisions. They should be closely involved in the creation of the assets, maintaining the strategy, and feeding the system so that it can reach its full potential. You need to put your team in a position to succeed (whether they are in-house or an external resource). It is a leadership decision to make sure this works.

To find out our full list of key learnings, sign up for our Insiders program and you can find out this and loads of other insider info.

Hiring someone for paid media can be a great expansion strategy to amplify your existing success, but don’t expect a magic bullet. For your media manager to succeed, you need to provide them with a strategy, assets, and autonomy. Remember to fully vet your potential providers and stay engaged with the work they are doing to make sure they are giving you expected results.

Part 2: What are the Different Types of Paid Media Roles You Can Hire?

When you’re looking to hire someone to look after your paid media advertising, there are many different types of hire to consider – from internal staff, to new hires, to agencies. Each option has its pros and cons, so let’s take a look in detail at each one to help you decide what is the best type of paid media role for you and your company.

1. Do it yourself

This is how we started out doing paid media and probably the way you will start out doing it when your business is small.


  • It costs $0 to get started
  • You know your strategy better than anyone
  • You know your business better than anyone
  • You know your product better than anyone
  • You take full responsibility for your results

2. Promote someone internally

When you promote someone internally, initially the benefits can be great, especially if you already have the right profile in your team.


  • You know the member can perform already
  • It can cost you very little to add on top of existing workload
  • Team members may want advancement/more responsibility
  • You can train the team member on how you want it done
  • Communication will be easy and you know they fit your culture

3. Hire an Intern

If you know that you don’t have the internal resources to fill the role but you can’t afford to hire a new team member, an intern could be a great solution.


  • Inexpensive resource who is eager to learn
  • You can help develop the knowledge of a future employee
  • Provides positive links with your community
  • Pollination of new ideas from universities or online learning
  • Commitment isn’t long-term, so easy to move on if it doesn’t work out

However, this is more of an interim solution that may not be suitable for your company goals.

4. Hire an Apprentice

An apprentice is more of a long-term strategy than an intern, but can still be a more affordable option than hiring a new permanent staff member.


  • Often less expensive than an employee or contractor
  • Trade hands-on experience gathering for a lower payment
  • You can set expectations and strategy upfront to mold the resource
  • Expectation the role is not permanent unless performance is exceptional
  • Bring new ideas to the organization and eager to prove themselves

5. Hire a Part-Time Employee

An even more long-term solution than an apprentice is a part-time employee. If you want to see how things go before investing in a full-time resource, this could be a good option for you.


  • Lower money commitment for the resource
  • May be better match for your budget for advertising as a percent of spend
  • May have skills that can bring immediate value to campaign results
  • Flexibility of work schedule during ups and downs
  • Minimal management if they demonstrate expertise

However, whenever you make a new hire to your team there is more risk involved.

6. Hire a Full-Time Employee

Hiring a full-time employee has many benefits that can really help your business to grow and get to the next level.


  • Your hire is 100% focussed on your advertising, all the time
  • You have a mutual commitment between resource and company
  • Investing in education can improve results and keep employee happy
  • Sense of accomplishment when great results are delivered
  • Focus on a common goal and internal communication

While taking on a new full-time employee can bring you lots of benefits, it might not be the right time for your company.

If you have a bit more of a budget, you may want to consider hiring an agency or a freelancer on a retainer. Despite the high price of some of these providers, it can sometimes work out more cost-effective because of their expertise.

When considering any of these strategies, it's important to understand that hiring resources to handle strategy without execution responsibility is a mistake, and this is no different when it comes to hiring for paid media. If they are not invested in the results, it’s not a good idea to trust their ideas or strategy.

Which is the right hire for you?

Making the right choice for your company depends on where you are at with your advertising strategy now and how you want to run it going forward. Every type of paid media hire has its benefits and its drawbacks, so make sure you consider these as they apply to your company goals.

To get a full picture, sign up for our Insiders program where we give you a full breakdown of these roles, including the drawbacks as well as the benefits.

Part 3: How to Write a Job Description for a Paid Media Role

It’s likely that when you are ready to hire your paid media role, you are already overwhelmed and wish that you’d hired them a month ago. But now you have decided that this is a top priority and have the budget set aside for it. Once you have decided to hire for a paid media role, you need to decide what you are looking for in order to make sure you get the right profile.

Are you ready to hire for your paid media role?

To be sure that you are really ready to make the hire, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What tasks and responsibilities will this person have?
  • What projects will they work on?
  • Who are they going to report to?
  • What skills do they need to have?
  • What are some concrete goals you expect them to achieve in the first 90 days?
  • Who is going to onboard them and is your onboarding procedure defined?

Writing the Job Description

When it comes to writing the job description, there are some tips that we have found useful:

  1. Don’t overreach in your expectations – Before you put something on a requirements list, ask yourself if it’s really a dealbreaker
  2. Boring is safe, use storytelling to create a description that stands out
  3. Don’t, whatever you do, ask for a “rockstar”

1. Identify the key quality you are looking for

Highlighting one of the key qualities you are looking for immediately makes people who identify with that take notice. Putting it into an eye-catching heading can be a great way to attract the right candidates.

2. Describe the day-to-day

This part of the ad highlights the kind of thing that the role would be doing on a day-to-day basis. You can write this in a series of questions e.g. Do you enjoy…? Are you the type of person that…?, etc

3. Describe why you are looking

Tell them something about you and the company so they can see if it is a good fit. Bring in company values, culture and personality to show candidates what you are all about.

4. What’s in it for them?

Tell them what they will get out of it: What will they learn? How will it help them to grow? Where could it take them in the future? You can also mention any perks or benefits.

5. Explain the role

Talk about what will be involved in the role. By talking about functions rather than skills, you are not excluding people arbitrarily, but widening the net and giving those who are open to learning an opportunity to apply.

Job Description Checklist

Make sure your job description includes the following components:

  • Who you want to hire
  • Why they should want to work with you
  • The benefits of the job and how the role works
  • Make it easy to apply, but hard enough to discourage candidates who aren’t appropriate
  • Be compliant with local laws and regulations

If you want to see how we advertised for our paid media position, sign up to our Insiders program to see the full job description. You’ll see how much fun we had writing it.

Have some fun writing yours and it will be more engaging to your audience. If you find you’re having trouble writing it, maybe you haven’t fully defined what you need – time to go back to the drawing board!

Part 4: Where to Post Your Paid Media Job Description

If you’ve been following our previous blog posts on the subject of hiring for paid media, you will have defined exactly what kind of person you want to hire, you’ll have written your job description, and will now be looking where to post it so that you get the right quantity and quality of candidates to fill your role.

How many candidates do you need?

You’re looking for that one perfect person to fill your role, but how many applications will you need to sort through in order to find them? We are all about the numbers here at Data Driven, and we worked out how many candidates you need at each stage of the hiring process in order to find the perfect fit.

We got there by working backwards …

  • Interviewing (5-10): To get one great candidate, you need to interview 5-10 top level players
  • Screening (20-30): To get 5-10 people who you really want to interview, you need 20-30 test submissions (more on tests in upcoming lessons).
  • Testing (60-80): To get 20-30 test submissions, you need to send 60-80 tests to suitable candidates. A test will filter out the people who just don’t have the right skills
  • Applications (100): To send out that many tests you need 100 applicants (20-25% won’t be qualified)

How do you find these candidates?

Internal distribution methods

  1. The first obvious place to post your job description is on your website. We posted our job description to the Data Driven blog.

However, you can’t just post it there and expect people to find it, you need to inform your audience as well; that might include current employees, your alumni, blog subscribers, etc.

  1. The second place we posted was to our Facebook group.

  1. The third approach was to send a dedicated email to our alumni list.

External distribution methods

If you find you are not getting enough numbers using your own distribution lists, you have some other options:

  1. Extend the deadline – if you are still getting applications towards the end of your deadline, consider extending it
  2. Post to other job boards – Casting a wider net is sometimes the only way to find the candidates you are looking for and getting those initial numbers that you know you will need in order to find them.
  3. Use a recruiter – Using recruiters is another option, particularly if you are short on time. They can do the candidate screening for you based on your requirements.

For a more complete look at job boards and recruiters, including the best job boards for online marketers and when it might be a good idea to shell out for a recruiter, sign up to our Insiders program for the lowdown.

There are many options for you to find the right person for your role, and you should use whatever methods will get you the right number of applications. There are several stages in the hiring process to take into consideration, so work out how you are going to screen candidates and weed out the ones who aren’t suitable for the role. Finding the right person involves a considerable time investment so, if you don’t have a lot of time, using a recruiter could be money well spent.

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