From The Rock

Characteristics of an outstanding account manager

By | February 15, 2017

We are currently on the hunt for a new senior account manager at Obsidian, and I will be honest; we are very critical during the process of adding to our team. We can’t just hire anyone, though – we know exactly what we are looking for in our next hire. So, I thought it might be a good time to share just what it is we are looking for – i.e. the characteristics that make up an outstanding senior account manager.

First, it’s important to note the word “senior” in the job title. The requirements of the position call for four to six years of experience, but we will know within minutes of the interview – regardless of how many years of experience the candidate has – if he or she is qualified to be a senior account manager at Obsidian. And, here’s how.

A senior account manager is confident and composed, listens patiently to others and exhibits knowledge without being shrewd. In other words, there is a certain finesse in communicating with others, such as with clients and junior account partners. And as we are interviewing candidates for a senior position, we are surveying how they handle interactions with others and considering how they might communicate with clients and account partners.

Another top-tier trait for a senior account manager is exceptional time management skills. Time management is the basis for agency life. Any account rep assigned a roster of clients must manage how they spend their time on each client account, often varying in retainer level. What we want to hear is that a candidate’s experience was vast and varied – and how he or she managed to get everything done. While exceptional time management skills are required for any position at Obsidian, it is especially important for senior account managers who are not only managing their own workload but must also supervise how junior partners manage their workload – and this leads me to the next absolute must-have mannerism of a senior account manager.

Any senior account manager at Obsidian must excel at managing others. Managing other people involves more than making sure work gets done. Senior account managers are expected to help develop junior partners by guiding them, taking time for teachable moments, and ensuring that they are learning, growing and really enjoying their work. This involves making sure that the juniors are contributing appropriately to assigned client accounts and are given the opportunity to produce meaningful work on those accounts. We are looking for senior account managers who really care about advancing others in our firm.

The actual job description (which you can find here, by the way) outlines all of the specific qualifications and responsibilities of the position, but I believe that there are two specific character traits that lead to the most success in our industry: creativity and strategic thinking.

The most successful senior account managers are naturally creative and strategic. PR professionals spend a great deal of each day exercising creativity and strategic thinking. From being strategic about how to tackle our to-do list to developing creative strategies and tactics for yearlong PR plans, we are constantly developing ideas and thinking through the best ways to execute them for clients. We are looking for people whose creative wells are deep and whose thoughts (and actions) are purposeful.

Finally, we are looking for friendly – and fun! – individuals to add to our team. We’ve purposely developed a unique culture at Obsidian (by instituting a number of specific programs and protocols and by hiring the right people) that has fashioned an environment of deep respect for and enjoyment of one another. We like each other! Not only do we enjoy working with each other, but we enjoy spending time together as a team. And, it’s important that whoever joins our team possesses the same friendly, respectful nature and is ready and willing to join in on our fun!

So, we may be overly cautious in our hiring processes, but whoever joins our team will also reap the benefits of this purposefulness. We know that with each great new hire, we are further securing the future of our firm!