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By SHELAGH BRALEY
CONCORD—Some of the best advice entrepreneurs can take is as simple as “just jump.”
Kirsten Furman and Miriam Christof, partners in JustJump Marketing, couldn’t agree more. The duo, who built the strategic marketing firm serving companies in the United States and Europe, has spent five years coming up with innovative ways to work efficiently while still effectively serving clients’ needs.
“We want to build a super-sophisticated agency that uses all the skills we have and serves the clients at a level we can manage,” Christof says.
This six-person team is looking to expand—and finding the candidate that blends right in is their top priority.
“For us so far, it’s been incredibly important that the person fits into our team, which also leaves us to do interviewing as a team,” Furman says. “Because we’re such a small team and remotely working with each other, we need to be very clear on the kind of person that fits and makes us more interesting as a team.”
Are you an interesting candidate? Here’s more about what they’re looking for:
POSITION: Marketing Coordinator
Furman and Christof both came from a more corporate environment, so they know firsthand the value of building both a profitable operation and a strong sense of why they do what they do. They focus on measurable ROI for clients, and want to provide high-quality mentorship for any new employee.
Freedom: “We both worked in corporate America and corporate Germany for a long time—and the one thing we really value most in JustJump is freedom,” Christof says. “For me … that means deciding what kind of direction we want the company to take, and that means deciding what kind of clients we want to work with.”
JustJump is now at the point where they’ve built the reputation and scale to be able to say, “This project is not interesting to us, this client doesn’t make sense for us, it’s not the best use of our team’s skills,” Christof says. “We are in charge of our own destiny. What we teach our clients, we really do it at JustJump. We’re strategic about where we want to grow.”
Flexibility: Time is a huge quality-of-life issue, so providing remote employees with flexibility gives JustJump an edge in the market. But it took the duo some time to learn how to accurately describe their most effective work style. When employees have full flexibility, it has to come with the recognition that others on the team are relying on them. “If you only work at 2 a.m. –that doesn’t work,” Furman says. “We figured out that we need people who are glued to their phones. That’s literally the sentence in our interviews. If you’re doing something, I am available to say, ‘hey, I didn’t get to that yet,’ or ‘voila,’—now you can continue working. Answering and reacting to each other is crucial. We’ve learned that over the past five years. That’s essential.”
Because JustJump isn’t following the typical standards for hiring, they wanted to tap into the large talent pool for whom flexibility is a necessity. “We look for people like moms and dads … who have spent some time to raise their kids, then for some of them, going back to corporate America is not really an option,” Christof says. “We are not solely focused on that, but I think the flexibility we provide is true flexibility. We are not saying ‘you can work from home but we need you to be at your desk 9-5.’ That’s not helpful.”
“We use Skype as our office so we know who is working when,” Furman says. “But I take care not to touch in with people when they’re not signed in.”
Variety of clients: “When someone applies to the bigger agencies, they might work on one account and that will be their job for a long time,” Christof says. But the team at JustJump works on many different accounts, so they have the chance to learn and gain insight into many different industries. “On any given day, you work on a big commercial real estate account, then you switch in the afternoon to a tech startup. It’s the switching between projects that I really like,” Christof says.
Mentorship: Coming right out of school, it’s not easy to work without the typical company structure. But that’s part of the skill set Christof and Furman look forward to sharing. “We can teach them learning to work responsibly and managing your own time. When you have that much freedom, it can backfire a lot,” Furman says. “We take the opportunity to do it because we had mentors that helped us get to the next level. It’s fun, you learn so much just by explaining.”
Training for specialties: “Young hires interested in SEO, we send them to the seminars to go out and learn. We take that very seriously, to really look for the special interests a person has and help them learn by doing,” Furman says. The value of hiring candidates out of school has a reciprocal value for JustJump, too. “They tend to keep the relationship with the people who have taught them, and they have energy that brings you a new tool, because they’re young. This is the benefit: The young can learn from the old and vice versa,” Furman says.
QUALITIES THEY ARE SEEKING
Personality: The small team looks for ways to add to their company culture through their hires. “We like to have quite a lot of different personalities working with us,” Furman says. “We like people that are not the status quo but rather people who show personality right from the very start.”
Adaptability: While at most job interviews, being 45 minutes late would knock a candidate out of the running, JustJump’s founders looked a little deeper:
“(Being that late) didn’t seem to bother her at all, and she ultimately was someone we hired. We don’t want someone who is all flustered,” Furman says. “We don’t serve a vertical per se, we’re not necessarily serving an industry but rather a type of problem. So we need people who are very adaptable, and that makes my day-to-day work very interesting, when they bring their own self into the company.”
Curiosity: “It’s really important to have someone who is interested in pretty much anything we throw at them,” Furman says.
They say they are looking for a candidate who is willing to learn, especially how they work together as a team. “That curiosity to dig deeper and do strategic marketing, if you are not the person who likes to ask the questions, you’re losing a lot of opportunities to show ROI,” Furman says. “The curiosity in the client and understanding them and sometimes asking uncomfortable questions, that’s not something that is trainable. You can sense it right from the start, and that’s really important.”
Tenacity>experience: “We prefer to have someone right out of college,” Furman says. “We’re not as interested in someone with deep understanding, because we see marketing as something that’s teachable. For the marketing coordinator, we definitely would look for someone with a degree because it shows a tenacity to finish something.”
Ultimately, they want a candidate who will bring value and energy to an already active team of experts and community contributors. “We are part of this community, we are talking to people constantly, we’re always interested in what challenge a company has or had and how did they solve it,” Christof says.
“For JustJump, we have created this tribe,” she continues. “We really believe in this tribe and people who are supporting each other … people who want to support your growth and you want to do the same for them.”