When Job Candidates Were King and Recruiters Were Scared

 In Career Tips

When Job Candidates Were King and Recruiters Were ScaredLately I find myself longing for those halcyon days of the late 90s when candidates for jobs were king and recruiters were scared.

If you are reading this, it is very likely that the expressions “signing bonus”, “full relocation”, “stock options” and “transportation allowance” are now relegated somewhere in the back of your mind next to pagers and CompuServe. If you don’t remember recruiting in the 90s, go read something else because you’re just not going to get it. Trust me.

Somewhere back around 1997 I remember getting a call from a recruiter on a Tuesday, and on that Thursday handing a first class ticket for a cross-country flight to the American Airlines attendant. A Gold Hertz rental car was reserved for me at the airport awaiting my arrival. No worries. Everything was paid for by a potential employer wooing me for a key position at a newly hatched dot com on the West Coast. I didn’t get the job. At 32 I was told I “wouldn’t fit in with the youth-oriented culture.” Not a problem! There were plenty of recruiters regularly knocking on my door. After all, as Scarlett famously said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Fast forward to 2011. It’s the post-electronic job board era. Relationships are destroyed with a un-follow or the click of a delete key. Your professional clout is measured in 140 characters. Bloggers, politicians and talking heads babble about the “jobless recovery” – an oxymoron at best – wishful thinking at its worst. Any slight uptick in the quarterly labor statistics is hailed like a hero returning from the Peloponnesian conflict. But this isn’t what’s eating me.

What’s eating me is the sheer audacity of employers these days. Take a random look at job board listings and one of the first things you will notice is the outrageous disparity between position responsibilities and salary.  I offer as case in point, a position description recently posted on a popular job board. I am reprinting this exactly as it appeared in the listing while masking the hiring company’s identity.

Duties and Responsibilities:

*** Must have Multi Level Marketing Experience in the XXXXXXX field***

Assisting Marketing Director in coordinating various integrated communication and marketing activities for a global XXXXX company that has helped people pursue a healthy lifestyle. ***Must have knowledge of the American Market***

Interfacing with counterparts and building up relationships with them at market suppliers.

Coordinating in production of a wide range of marketing communications.

Developing and maintaining sales proposals, collateral, desktop publishing, rate cards, newsletter, brochures, and many other materials related to marketing.

Supervising the production of implementation of marketing materials.

Executing a wide variety of details that involve direct mail, email broadcast campaigns, outbound calls, marketing trade shows, events, public relations, customer communications, media advertisements, promotions and other marketing plans.

Tracking campaigns, preparing performance analysis reports of post campaign and making recommendations to concurrent programs for corrective modifications.

Maintaining communication open lines with all organizations and providing prompt answers to requests in order to determine how to convey concise, clear and timely selective information.

Developing standardize presentations, sales scripts, proposals.

Writing and maintaining content and providing monthly updates to company website.

Producing quarterly newsletter and distributing it to email marketing list of company.

Assisting in writing, tracking and delivery of press releases.

Providing product positioning materials as well as training for customer service and sales.

Implementing project management system for documenting and tracking activities.

Supporting channel collaborates with collateral, sales training and best practices.

Attending tradeshows, company sponsored promotions and events, city tours.

Monitoring online blogs for tracking communications related to the brand of a company.

Building a lead scoring system for evaluating lead qualify and quality opportunities.

Developing lead generation plans with targets, measures and objectives.

Working with customers in developing case studies, references, and testimonials.

Executing and analyzing results of advertisement and marketing campaigns.

Now, you may be wondering what sort of background these people are looking for to fill this technical writer-project manager-marketing analytics-public relations-sales management-online community manager-web content manager-marketing communications-event planner role aren’t you?

Here are the required “Skills and Specifications” listed for this position:

Computer proficiency with Microsoft Office, Dreamweaver, Front Page skills required.

Ability to operate under solid pressure and meet tight deadlines.

Excellent Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook skills.

Effective project management skills.

Sound understanding of marketing principals.

Effective understanding of latest technologies and should identify how to apply them in marketing.

Excellent copywriting skills and should be able to reword technical content for a wider audience.

Good team player and should meet or exceed team goals.

Plan decisions and practice good judgment.

Build excellent working relationship to attain goals.

Work collaboratively and efficaciously as a team member.

Be motivated, confident, energetic, and creative.

Effectively communicate and make best use of interpersonal.

As an aside, I must apologize for the terrible grammatical errors found in this job listing. I know it’s painful to read. As I explained in a previous post, your resume must perfectly adhere to the standards set forth in the Chicago Manual of Style or it will be immediately tossed into the trash can. Recruiters however, are not held to these same standards. Luckily, there is an entire industry devoted towards relieving candidates of their mortal fear of missing a golden career opportunity due to a missing comma. It’s called the professional resume writing industry…but I digress.

So, you may be wondering about the title of this position and the salary associated with this level of responsibility in the marketing department of this “global organization.”

This position was listed as a “Marketing Coordinator” – salary $55,000.

Now, as a former hiring manager myself, I know how this game is played. This is clearly a management position with operational responsibility for some critical marketing processes.   However, we can’t call this position a “Marketing Manager.” If we did, the position would have to have direct reports and we’d have to create one of those expensive “exempt” positions. There’s no budget for that.

No, what we want is to hire someone who is overqualified for this job and willing to work for peanuts, prevent him/her from getting any assistance at all and from working any overtime, (we discontinued all overtime in the early days of the recession). If we can just find someone who is about to lose his/her home, then we will have found the perfect candidate – just crazy enough to come work for us and virtually run our entire marketing operation at very little cost to our organization…after taxes and costly health care benefits, a take-home salary of about $45,000/year.

I don’t know about you, but I know this prospect causes me to become highly “motivated, confident, energetic, and creative.”

Are these people crazy? If this were a singular incident I would write it off as an anomaly. Unfortunately, it isn’t. I’ll bet you’ve seen plenty of this type of thing over the past few years. Perhaps you are currently one of the unfortunates stuck in this type of position. If you are, I am truly sorry. But hey, it’s a paycheck, right?

Look, I’m no Pollyanna. The job market is like everything else in a capitalist economy. The law of supply and demand prevails. There are millions of unemployed people looking for work and not enough jobs to go around. I get it. Right now recruiters and employers are king – and as we all know, “It’s good to be king.”

But there’s another little rule in the market one must always remember. Markets are cyclical, and so is unemployment. What goes up also comes down. I don’t know if you or I will ever see another time in our working lives when talent has clout, but invariably it will happen. And when it does, dear corporate recruiters, retained search agents and hiring managers just remember; we candidates are like elephants – we never forget. Your behavior now – through these tough times– is likely to cost you in the future…perhaps very dearly indeed.

I’m really interested in getting your feedback on this. Do you have any personal experience with badly written job postings or outrageous job responsibility to salary ratios?

The opinions expressed by The Candidate Curmudgeon are the Curmudgeon’s own and do not necessarily express the views and opinions of CPGjobs, its clients, candidates or affiliates. CPGjobs is dedicated to open discourse about the candidate experience, and it is in this spirit that these blog posts are offered. The Candidate Curmudgeon welcomes all criticism and commentary!

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