“When you find great employees, I think you’ll be amazed to find how much they end up teaching you” says Courtney Chalmers, Vice President of Marketing, Dominion Marine Media
By Courtney Chalmers (Vice President of Marketing, Dominion Marine Media)
Let’s face it. We’ve all had our failures in recruiting – those people that you bet on and thought would work out but don’t. But it’s not our failures, but our winning bets, our best hires, that shape our real level of success. It’s when you build a team that is in sync, that you’re most proud. It’s when you feel like it’s almost too good to be true and you start to wonder when the other shoe is going to drop, that you know you’ve gotten it right.

The shoe may drop at some point – good people move on – but when they do, those great employees will have set a foundation for your organization that you can build on long after they’ve left. They’ll make finding your next great employee easier because you’ll know what you’re looking for (and what you’re not).

Learning how to build a great team can be tough, but I’ve learned a lot along the way. As a manager, when you find great employees, I think you’ll be amazed to find how much they end up teaching you. I know I was. My team ignited my spirit with their hard work and passion for what they do. I hope sharing the things they’ve taught me will help you find your next great hire and bring you one step closer to building a team and a company culture that’s second to none.

      1. Culture first, skill set second
        I’m a self-proclaimed intellectual snob, but while smarts are important and of course a part of the equation, I’ve found that the most important part of recruiting is not looking always looking for the person with the most experience, but rather finding the person who fits in best with the company culture. You can’t teach culture, but you can teach a smart person a new skill. At the end of the day, we can all forgive people who screw up if we like them as people – it’s so much harder to get past someone’s faults if they just don’t fit in well with the team.


  • Look for the “bunker” mentality
    This is a phrase that our Director of Content Strategy shared with me, and I related immediately. It’s about rolling up your sleeves and being in the trenches, regardless of what the task is. If it helps the team, it’s worth doing. I made a rule to myself when I started as a marketing coordinator 13 years ago that I would never ask someone on my team to do something that I had not done. Whether it’s data entry or ordering lunch for the group, it benefits everyone, and we all need a little help from our friends now and then. When hiring, look for someone who says they’re willing to do whatever it takes and who isn’t afraid to roll-up their sleeves and put in hard work. When managing, don’t lose sight of the “bunker” mentality yourself. People admire a manager who gets in the trenches with them and isn’t above doing whatever it takes.



  • Ask the questions – “What can you be relied on for in the workplace? What can you not be relied on for?”
    I’ve found that the answer to this question is very telling in an interview. It lets you understand what makes someone tick and what makes them shut down. For example, my response to that question is that I can be relied on to do my best no matter what the project. However, because I’m my own biggest critic, I can’t be relied on to hold others at a lesser standard of performance than my own. A recent candidate answered this question with: “I will jump up and volunteer for anything, regardless of the task. I can’t be relied on to have patience with people who don’t do certain things because they won’t ‘stoop to that level’.” We hired her.



  • Those who dress their best, do their best.
    I take this quote from my friend who started a clothing company called Collard Greens, and their slogan is “When you dress your best, you do your best.” I couldn’t say it better and I don’t think there is a need to elaborate on this one.



  • Find out if you’ll be a good fit for them.
    It’s not all about us, afterall! Ask questions to understand how people prefer to be managed. Asking questions like, “If I were to ask your current boss to tell me one thing you do that drives her crazy, what would she tell me?” gives some insight about how they interact with their manager. A recent candidate responded to this question by telling me that her manager wanted updates throughout the day, but she preferred to meet once with a list of updates because she valued her manager’s time too much to pop in and out with updates. Guess what? We hired her – her thought process was right in line with the way we work



  • Good manners always prevail.
    My grandmother said, “Good manners do not cost you anything to exercise, but the lack of them may cost you dearly further down the road.” Good manners always matter. A firm handshake, eye contact and a “thank you” (a handwritten note is icing on the cake) is appreciated by any employer. It shows that the candidate appreciates your time and is interested in the position. And, it’s a good reflection of how they’ll represent your brand if they join your team.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think or share any tips you’ve learned along your hiring journey. I’d love to hear from you!

Courtney Chalmers currently serves as Vice President of marketing for Dominion Marine Media where she is responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s global communications activities including media relations, brand management and advertising. Chalmers feels privileged to lead a smart and talented group of 18 individuals across DMM’s global brands including YachtWorld, Boat Trader, boats.com and CosasDeBarcos. An active thought leader in the industry, she has been published in top boating publications and been invited to speak at industry events across the United States.