Monday, August 25, 2008

Your New Challenge: Looking for a New Marketing Job in a Company that Doesn't Do Marketing?

Once upon a time you designed advertisements and campaigns that won awards, but the market for print-based advertising is going away. Or maybe you're the PR pro and your rolodex and your rules for press releases are being rewritten by the internet. What if you're one of those people who can see the shifts in the marketing tide and you want to catch the wave? Now you're facing a dilemma:
  • If you feel like your current role and its associated tasks are becoming obsolete, you don't want to look for another one of the same.
  • If you pursue a completely new role, in the eyes of a potential employer you may have little experience -- certainly less than someone who has been actively involved in that role.
  • If you want work in an environment that understands the core changes to organizational approaches to business (like those presented in Meatball Sundae), then you're selling yourself to an organization that either already gets it, or one that probably hasn't approached the idea yet -- either way, you're probably facing a tough sell positioning as a change agent.
So, what you're looking for is an organization that understands and embraces the changing tides of marketing, that has some series of needs within that position, and is looking for someone with roots in traditional marketing but with a passion for new marketing and (probably) without much of a documented history of new marketing execution to point to. Good luck.

Seriously though, it's not your fault. You're a victim of this perceptual fallacy that expertise is grown through some sort of big-bang genesis of an idea to become an expert at something, followed by a long period, deep in the trenches. But the reality is that most people pick up these new directions as more of a sidebar to their primary activity -- dipping a toe in here, dabbling with a little bit of that concept there -- only to find that the concept, the opportunity, or the requirements consumes increasing amounts of their attention.

Perhaps you worked at a small to mid-sized business and your title didn't include the words "analytics" and you didn't spend your entire workday doing analysis, but that doesn't mean that you haven't learned the fundamentals of the process or that your analytical guesses are any less insightful. It goes without saying that you probably didn't sit around thinking to yourself, "when I grow up, I want to do analytics." More likely, you had to figure it out and just start doing it because it was needed.

Another factor that adds to your foot-in-the-door problem is the filter known as corporate recruiters and HR staff. In all likelihood, they're don't have the background or experience to interpret and synthesize capabilities based on related things that you might have done. In fact, most initial resume screenings are done simply by matching the listed job description requirements with details in the resume. That means that if you are targeting a product marketing manager position, your best shot is if you have a product marketing manager title in that industry, followed by product marketing manager in a related industry. After that, your best hope is that your resume includes a title with the words product and marketing and possibly manager somewhere in the list -- product manager, product marketing specialist, marketing manager, etc.

A big contributor to this is something that Seth Godin points to in a section on "Competence" in his book, Small is the New Big and 183 other riffs, rants, and remarkable business ideas. Basically, his point is that people measure competence as an ability to repeat and reproduce a set of results. In short, the best candidate for a position is someone who has successfully done the same thing repeatedly in the past. While this may seem like some measure for predictable success, Godin points out that what it misses is something in the artistry of innovation, that people who are demonstrate competence typically don't deviate from rigidly defined, standard methodologies.

Ultimately though, the why probably doesn't mean much if to you if you can't find a solution. I'm not sure that I have a good answer to this problem, but lately I've been thinking a lot about some strategies to deal with the issue. But since this post is getting long -- with the possibility of losing focus, I'll pick up on some solution strategies in an upcoming post. In the meantime, if you feel particularly touched by this, feel free to post comments or to email using the link on the blog. I'd love to incorporate your comments into solution strategies.

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