Erin Clift is the chief marketing officer at Waze
- Erin Clift has been a marketer for over 22 years, 18 of which involved senior roles.
- She worked at Google for over seven years before joining Spotify, Kik Interactive, and AOL.
- Three years ago she came back to Google to be chief marketing officer at Waze, a Google-owned company known for its traffic app.
- Business Insider spoke to Clift on landing a coveted senior marketing role at a major tech firm.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As a 22-year marketing veteran and current chief marketing officer at mapping app Waze, Erin Clift has some wisdom to share.
In an interview with Business Insider, she shared her top four tips on getting hired as a marketer at big tech companies.
After moving around marketing roles at American National Bank and Oprah.com, Clift moved into tech when she joined Google as a markets specialist in 2002. She continued a tech-focused career, taking up roles at AOL and Spotify, before returning to Google as CMO of Waze. Google acquired Waze in 2013.
Clift said: “Whenever I’ve moved from one company into another I think about three things: One is ‘are they doing something that I care about and I believe in.’ The second would be, ‘is there a team in place that I respect admire, and can learn from.’
“And then the third, in terms of what I do there, ‘what can I bring to that organization and what do I want to learn from that organization.'”
She added: “And for me, if you follow those things, you’ll get to whatever company that you may want to go to.”
Clift oversaw the launch of Waze Carpool, which enables users to request a ride from a driver going the same way, and Waze for Cities, a feature that gives daily measures of traffic congestion.
In 2019 Clift made it to Forbes CMO’s Next List, a compilation of the top 50 CMOs who are driving business and brand growth.
Read her top tips below.
Build your contacts and network
“Don’t be afraid to reach out and network,” Clift said, adding that you can learn a lot about what other companies are doing without having to work there.
“There are a lot of people who are willing to pay it forward and have those conversations so that people who are excited to learn about something can.”
Start from leveraging your current network to find new people using platforms such as LinkedIn, she said. Then email your contacts saying: “I’m dying to learn more about…” or “Do you know anyone who works in these types of companies…”
“If you are really very specific about what you’re trying to learn while you’re trying to connect, you’ll be surprised how many people that you reach out to might say ‘yes’, just don’t get discouraged,” Clift said.
One positive aspect coming out of the coronavirus pandemic is the number of virtual networking opportunities, making it easier for people to agree to a 15- to 30-minute chat. Don’t be afraid to call directly either, Clift said. She once received a call from someone who wanted to know more about her experience and “it wasn’t a recruiter,” Clift said.
But there are other ways to make connections. Organizations often build communities and organize panel discussions, networking events, to chat on the trends of the respective markets and sectors, she said. And of course, these are all virtual right now, so anyone can join.
Set up filters when you look for companies to work for
Clift said her aim wasn’t necessarily to work specifically for Google, Spotify, or Kik, but she knew what was and what wasn’t exciting to her that led her to these organizations.
“You don’t have to know exactly what those North Star places [are] yet, but if you have some good filters for the experiences you want to build upon, and what matters to you, in terms of what type of company you work for, you can find yourself in those organizations that you mentally thought about, or you may unlock totally new opportunities that you hadn’t considered before,” Clift said.
Develop soft as well as hard skills
The ideal candidate needs problem-solving, analytical, and communications skills, and the ability to work in a team but understand how the rest of the company works, Clift told Business Insider.
And while in the hiring process work experience and hard skills are always a plus, having soft skills is a must, she said.
When Clift is in the process of hiring someone, she looks for people who are creative, flexible, ready to adapt, who always are in an “ongoing experimentation mode”. But also “people who are obsessed with consumers, who really care about what is motivating them, what they value, how they think, how they’re changing what they do every day based on sort of new technology coming,” she said.
“They [marketers] should also be great thinkers … and be able to think holistically about the journey that a consumer might go through, or holistically about how to address a problem,” she said.
Candidates should also have a firm point of view on trends and sectors they want to work in. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, as long as you can back what you believe in with research or data you have found, Clift said.
Read, read, and read
Do your own research and keep yourself up to date, whether through daily news or reading academic papers.
“It’s important to stay up to speed on the trends that are influencing marketing and media, there are always new platforms like TikTok that a year ago we weren’t talking about, and now all of sudden that platform is consuming the time of Generation Z,” Clift said.
Understand consumers, why they consume something, and why it matters. Become an expert, by putting in your own effort, doing research, and reading daily, she said.