If It Walks Like a Duck... Know the Signs of Misleading Marketing Career Offers.
That marketing job look too good to be true? Signs your job is not a career
You are starting your career and your ambition is shining. You can't wait to land that first job and show them how quickly you can deliver results. Or, you've recently been out of work and are anxious to get back into the workforce. You have bills to pay and talents that are going unused. These are all great motivators in the search for the next challenge in your career. However, this also breeds a situation where your ambition and excitement can be a vulnerability for a certain type of employer. I have noticed this pattern especially prevalent in the work of Marketing career recruitment.
I tell this story from a personal place. More than once in my career, I've been looking to tackle the next challenge. So I put some feelers out there to see what the job market was like. Most recently, I have been laid off and am very excited to get back to work. I worked with a great coach and polished my resume, my LinkedIn profile, and finally put that work in to create a personal website. I was all set and started the diligent process of customizing and sending out applications, resumes, and cover letters. Two and three weeks passed with a couple of leads with agencies and brands I really admired. I had also applied to some agencies that I knew less about but had sparkling job descriptions and sounded exciting.
I explored my options and this is when I realized a pattern with these certain lesser known agencies or brands. There was a ton of excitement up front but I always felt there was something being left out. I started to dig. I discovered a set of employers that are ready to pounce on the ambition and excitement I highlighted above. Have you seen Boiler Room?
*** Caution: The below video clip contains language that could be considered offensive and inappropriate for the workplace.
"We don't hired brokers, we train them." Sound familiar? Have you ever heard, "We're looking to train our next senior manager?" How about, "You will make your first million within the first three years of..." Unlimited earning potential but no details on a product or path is another familiar trait I was hearing.
What I had discovered is what seemed to be a set of predatory hiring firms that were VERY good at marketing themselves to the willing. Most made huge promises but gave no details on the tactical and functional jobs. These jobs routinely ended up being an in-store demonstrator and sales person for a large contracted brand in a big box store. I would be charged with selling in the demos to the big box stores and then executing them and be accountable to a revenue number.
What was pitched to me as a progressive marketing consultant with a "Major Brand" ended up being a workhorse for a manager to reap a commission on my hard work. I was welcomed to build a team to broaden my earning potential, however, I would have to fund that team. What was pitched as a progressive career seemed to be a form of a pyramid scheme. Needless to say, I walked away from these opportunities but I also took notes.
After some digging and thinking, I uncovered a few traits that should be red flag for you if you find yourself in the job market and ambitiously sending resumes to everyone you can find. Here is what I found to be common traits among these organizations.
Check out the company's website. Is their website is more about recruiting talent than case studies of success or capabilities. Did you take that first interview and feel like you were being "sold" the job rather than having the opportunity to prove your value? Most of these organizations have such turnover that their websites and interviews are geared more to recruiting new talent than evaluating it. I've never met a quality agency that did not showcase their successes or have an interview process that challenged the interviewee. If you can't clearly tell the capabilities of the agency or the clients they serve from their website, stay away.
Most great organization provide a great support system to grow you and your career. It is in their interest to grow the talent they spend so much money recruiting. A great organization will allow you to explore roles and departments and may even encourage cross training in other departments. These predatory organizations will talk about developing you to senior management before you are hired. Senior manager of what? This tactic is the carrot at the end of the stick. Remember, "You will make a million dollars within your first three years..?" Ask yourself, why are we talking about career development when the organization has not clearly defined the role you will be filling if you are hired in the first place?
If you do your research on employees who are currently with the agency, you may realize something interesting. LinkedIn is a great resource and you should use it. Do the research to discover the layers of management of the organization and the folks who fill those roles. Then go back and look at each of their career paths. You may notice the organization has multiple employees with identical career paths, timelines, and employers. Many of these predatory employers have to change names every so often to reinvent themselves to keep the employment pipeline full and ahead of employment review site postings.
Lastly, many of these organizations must reinvent themselves periodically. This is usually surface deep and simply involves the name of the agency and branding through their website. If you've done your research on the organization, type the name into the LinkedIn search bar. Are there multiple organizations with that same name, maybe slightly modified in some kitschy way? In this list, does the organization you are considering differ greatly in the way that they present themselves versus their peers? The name of these organization is marketing itself. Generally there is an identically named company in the same industry. Red Flag.
Ambition is a great trait but so are research and patience. As marketers, we should have the first critical eye to what might be marketing and sales that impact us. This includes the organizations with which we interact. Overall, an organization should want you to be the right fit for them. Not all organizations are built for everyone. If it seems too easy, it probably was that way for a reason. Ask the critical questions and get the answer you need. If you can't or encounter avoidance, walk away. There is a brand and organization out there waiting for you that is a perfect fit. You're long term career enjoyment and enthusiasm is worth it.