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7 Hiring Tips from Facebook’s Creative Strategist, Jill Applebaum

Source: Stephen Petronis

As a Creative Strategist at Facebook, Jill Applebaum manages an inspired and dynamic team at one of the world’s foremost social media platforms. Coming from a stellar tenure at traditional advertising agencies and digital shops, Jill knows the onboarding process well having hired countless creatives over the years. Which is to say, she knows what makes the team work and is totally unabashed when saying so: “Look for people who will turn lemons into Mike’s Hard Lemonade.”

Read the rest of her hiring tips below.


At a certain point in your career, unless you’re completely out of touch, you’ve come to realize your own strengths and weaknesses. Hire to compensate for the weaknesses. If you’re a nurturer, you probably don’t need another on the team. If you have a certain voice, seek those with a very different one. Make sure you’re looking for people who bring it but in a completely different way. Hire the most diverse group possible.


Yes, talent and craft count. They count a ton. But a phenomenal writer who only pushes out a few paragraphs a week because he/she would rather be hunting for Weedle (or is it Weedles?) isn’t going to add much value. Ask what this person is doing with his/her free time. Side projects, actively raising kids, odd hobbies, voracious reading, committing acts of good—are all respectable answers. “Nothing much,” isn’t. I’ve found that the more a person has on his/her plate, the more he/she manages to get done. Don’t be afraid to hire someone who has a full life outside of the office.


My own personal management style has been described as “Jewish Mother” and everything I know about life and how to treat people I learned from my awesome mom. But religion aside, I believe there’s an overprotective mother inside of all of us. I’m demanding but I give a ton in return. When you look this candidate in the eye, do you feel empathy? Will you want to invest the required amount of sweat and equity to ensure that this person succeeds?


Is there anyone you know and trust who has worked with this person before? If so, it’s worthwhile to do the extra legwork to gather those additional perspectives.


Watch out for egos. All of the talent in the world can’t make up for a bad team dynamic. You want to make sure this person will be willing to roll up their sleeves and pick up some of the grunt work. You need pinch hitters. You want to make sure this person doesn’t have a “that’s not my job” mindset. Look for people who will turn lemons into Mike’s Hard Lemonade.


There’s good and bad at every company. There is good and bad baked into every role. Be brutally honest about all of the pros and cons. Be crystal clear about your expectations. Let them know what’s imperfect and why it is so. You want people who understand the pitfalls and are eager to jump in with you anyway. You want someone who comes in without any false expectations because if you trick someone to get them in, it’s over before it starts.


Vet them well. Take as long as you need. Vet until your gut sends you the strong signal that this is someone you can trust to go the extra mile and represent you and the team. The most important part of a manager’s job (and often the hardest part) is allowing your talent to be free to solve the business problems in their own way. They won’t do everything the exact same way as you would and that’s ok. As long as they’re doing their best, learning as they go and have the project and the team’s best interests at heart, it’ll be ok. Nothing drives talent away faster than a micromanager.

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