Thursday, October 18, 2007

The alternative, lateral thinking and naughty tricks side of job hunting for MSc Marketing Students/ Graduates.

Guilt is often a motivator in my life....... as is sheer boredom! The eagerness to share is also there. But mainly it's the guilt of knowing that you folks from the MSc 2007 and 2008 will face not only a tough time getting jobs, but a hell-ride in progressing your career and even occiasionally holding onto a job. No one came and spoke to us way back-when I did the MSc.

So What Are the tricks?

What are the alternatives firstly-

Firstly consider this- many a young post graduate learns the ropes of a small business while on a summer job or placement, or just biding time and paying bills post graduation/peri graduation.

However often they think the long hours, financial risks and sheer tenacity of starting their own wee enterprise are not something for them...they then go out and get a job in an ad' agency? duh!...d'ya get my point?

Most marketing people will at some point end up working 14 hour days for a mediocre pay and under a false illsuion that they are in safe employment. Experience informs we of a bit of grrey hair to work clever, prioritise and push back...and of course delegate to the minions..

However, starting your own business is a very worthwhile alternative, even if you at some point fail. I mean anything from window cleaning to a new software and internet company set to take on youtube. I choose window cleaning because a friend of mine did just that- cleaned windows to scratch a living. Last time I was over he had about four different business areas employing maybe 100 people - be that on mostly part time basis,...but hey, it's impressive despite the unglamerous nature of it all.

I did the round for the boys a few times when they were busy way back when. They started without even a credit rating and just begged, borrowed, stole and got support from the local enterprise people for some training. At some point soon they are going to walk into a business opportunity which has better margins and just requires hard work and dedication to the customer. Then they will be rich. Originally they set out as a business to make houses look finer, not just clean windows!

So the best way to apply a lot of you knowledge and attitude to marketing being a key, neigh integral driver of a business is to start your own idea.


Another area which is not for the feint hearted, but a realistic option for most, is to get in early. Be on board at a Gazelle business or even an early stage new start up. Googles VP marketing (or th elike) was the girl they rented a room from when they made their first search engine in 1996.

There are two routes- the gaselle, first tuesday clubs. Find out what, who and why and do some targeted homework. Go along maybe in a suit with your tie undone and here are some tips:
  • Avoid the issue of who you are or what you are currently doing -
    • focus on what excites you about business X. Focus on where you are going with your masters...where you'd like to use your business school education next. Avoid saying that you are a student.
    • On the latter - do you homework on who is going to be there, presenting or in the audience. Find something which excites you or is clearly getting near marketing budget time!
  • Avoid saying you are looking for a job---if you do, then you are just another mouth to feed and not a contributor yet.
  • Say you are interested in hearing more on this and looking at possible areas you could maybe get involved with early on.
  • Think of money as the noise you will no doubt make ...even say means getting in early and using your skills and personality is more important that pay per se.
  • ..say you'd really like to sit down and here about the business model and the challenges ahead and see if you can either do something for them or put them in touch with someone
  • If pushed about what you actually are doing right now, say okay, I'm fresh out of business school masters and looking to work really hard in something new where your drive and committment will count more than resting on the laurels of ten years experience! Youhave this advantage over all the family men and the broody brides.
  • Leave a business card and ask to take theirs and get a meeting on this basis.
  • In following up, don't ever send your Cv. Kiss of death. Instead get a meeting and talk about what their aims are and what their needs are for people to cooperate on or come on board. Walk away if they are too busy. If you really like the business find another contact at them and say you were speaking to Mr X, and thought it was really interesting....
  • Get it down to specific projects- make it clear that you have a network of people you can chase around ( your class, lecturers, the local enterprise companies, your family contacts, all these people's LinkedIn contacts, the other people you met punting wares as first tuesday etc do the shoe leather and keep the left hand ignorant of the right...
  • If it is going no where, get to know who their investors are and who their advisors are. Which names at the LECs, the venture capitalists and the financial auditors/managemtn consultants. You'll soon find it's a small world in any given area and you will start to get referalls both ways int he mesch!

Which brings up one point and leads to the next. So point one- this is really all about the elevator conversation / fly pitch when you sneak up on someone using their vanity and enthusiasm to talk about what they do and present your personal brand..which is something like:: business school masters candidate eager to use their grey matter and work really hard, being as tenacious as hell!

Now this takes us to more on networking

Gazelle Advisors

There are swarms of bees on the honey pot of entrepreneurs. Mostly they want to give advice on strategy ( high fees) or link investment to ideas ( small % but lots of cash when it comes).

90% of this for a good business idea in hard working hands, is hot air and slime. But however there are some very good LEC people ( local enterprise) for instance who can often take you on a project with a view to placement or just recommend you. Also there are good, specialist marriage firms who link investment to new ideas glued together with experience and some personnel who can bob in and out of several companies without being a burdon on any one.

There is always a gravy train and a bear train...the gravy is soft capital and government grants while the bear is VC. It is very clear in a company if they are competatn in either or both of these regimes can just smell it in the air. A gravy trainer will be a consultancy who have pressed all the right admin and qualifying buttons at the LEC. ( Or the LEC internal empire itself!) The atmosphere will be excited or glib...they will be arrogant, but maybe a little funny in meetings. They will want to see if you can smooch and not upset or challenge people. They want you to be a nice little girl or boy.

At the Bear Train they are hooked into serious sharp capital who are expecting high competancy. The atmosphere will be like a lamb walking into a corrie with eagles at every precipice. They will ask sharp, challenging questions. They will be expecting sharp, conservative answers to go with the suit and tie. They will be no fun to work for, but if they are a McKinsey of this world in miniature or big, then you will get a couple of hell years on your cv in gilt pen. Worth it's weight in gold to your career, especially with a big name in man'cons' investing in gazelles.

At a failure in either there will be an obvious nervousness. Right from the minute you walk in the door. The receptionist will either be a temp or know that they shoudl be looking for a job. No recpetionist is always a sign of a cash-strapped company. Are there empty desks? Are they moving premises? A bit like the VC advisors above, they will be hawking at you, but nervously and in an agitated way. They are quite likely intereted in either getting you free or finding out if your daddy has money. They are usually the type who butt-in at First Tuesdays when they see you, a young gun, cornering someone older. This is because they are desperate to survive. Usually as a seeker of a job or in my case business, they are only worth the list of their former "client" companies who have refinanced or exited to an FPO/ PLC etc.

The Dirty Tricks book of Job Hunting

Now for those of you who follow this so long, now you desserve a bit of dirty tricks when it comes to getting a job rather than all this networking at first tuesdays and lesbian in business breakfasts.

1) mulitple applications: okay I cannot in writing advocate that you write multiple fictitous applications to jobs from several temporary H-/G-mail accounts which lack mobile numbers. That would be a very unscrupulous thing for a person to contemplate. Perhaps instead you coudl ask your mates in employment to send in a CV and see if they get a bite. Then they can either just cancel the interview or recommend you directly as a substitute available and interested. You swing in to look for cancellations the day they cancel.

Alternativley: if you find a job on more than one web site then you can risk spamming them, especially if it is a rectruitment consultancy. You can always politely explain away three CVs coming to them, but the chances are they will skim read and delete two only to then come back to your latter version with interest once they can't get 20 CVs to forward.

2) work around recruitment can be very obvious when a company is starting a new in your country, region or market segment. Use the consultancy to find out who the employer is, politely decline to take it further and then go direct to find the marketign director and the personnel contacts. Go direct, open application maybe a week after the rectuitment contact if they had got your name and details already...darn you slipped up there.

3) Use sales interviews to weed your way in. ( also relating to 2 above) Companies are always recruiting new sales people because like you and me, most people see sales as a cheesy way to make a living. It doesn't have to be at all, but the shit sticks. Use my earlier tactics in a previous blogg to get forward in the interview process to the HQ interview and when away from sales managers get an idea of who they recruit into marketing and if they have vacacncies. Sya to them that if the current career opportunity falls through - you are generally really interested in the company and would move to HQ if something else came up. leave a business card and a very marketing version of your CV at personnel or better yet with the marketing director or a brand manager for example if you get introduced.

4) LinkedIn is a great networking tool with respect to 3) above and many other routes. You can search by company and get introduced. Great way of doing it...but eventually the spammers will get in there. So use it now and get a big network of 100 + in the next year.

5) work around personnel...often they will just black ball you. I worked at one place after many years of 'failed' applications and psychographic tests only to discover they had an unusually high level of roman catholics working there...I never dared to ask if it was truly favouritism, but it was as thick as the south bank of the boyne in 1690 with them!
It was something to do with personnel being able to screen out candidates at will, and as soon as I was at a level to speak to marketing director level I got offered a job---working round in fact a recruitment consultant at the same time.

6) when let down, but asked to keep your CV on file, phone up and make a point of not having it there. Aks them kindly to destroy it or send it back. Don't give a reason. This does two things
a) it means you are fresh each time you take a bite at the cherry. A name is easy to look up in a file of CVs and then say " yeah, we had this guy in before" . It means that you can have a better lookig CV next time even if you didn't get any more experience.
b) it will get them a little interested in you...they will probably say something like " we will quite likely be rectruiting in marketing shortly.." Get in for an open-interview with marketing people on the back of this.

7) do paper CVs..people have overload in box and screen fatigue. Recruitment consultants often have an all whistles web site, but prefer to send paper on because of this! If given the choice send a paper CV in, addressed "private and confidential, addressee only" so your classmate temping in reception or hte mail-room doesn't send it to round filing cabinet, floor located. By all means follow it up with an e-post which takes me to..

8) hit hard on your personal branding and send a CV accordingly...refer to job history as an available addennum. Focus on your can do's, have covered at business school, projects completed or worked upon (incl. univeritys) and most of all your personal qualities and ambitions. This is best for open appliations or just chancing your arm for a brand manager job. Send one (in paper or on their web site) to personnel and find out who the marketing manager / director is and send one by post as in 7) Make an impact on who you are and where you are going rather than where you have been.

9) as on these monster, step stone or large employer web sites, always tease with your actual work history if you can get away with it. Me, i've changed jobs on a regular basis or boredom and malcontention, but hey I'm not goign to be "branded" as that!! Once again focus on your personal brand and where you are going. Leave work history or include the business school course as a cheeky "employer" to give a continuity, leaving it out of education. These things are searched on tick box key words and not firtsly on your academics.

10) Keep in touch with your old mates at the business school. add them into linked in. Many of the MSc students will fail at being able to work in a non structured environment and you can swing in on the ir bad luck. If they are on the up, they should be recommending you verbally or via LinkedIn. Find out where as many of them are working as possible and if you are in a shitty job y1, chase up 12 months later to all these. Some will be "moving on".
Furthermore keeping in touch is great not because they are much more worth than a pint with a view down their cleavage now, but that they will be most important in networking into a better company in five years time from now. I gave up on them all. Shit.

Pick 12 class mates you either fancy or are actually mates with and make a point of seeing one each month AT LEAST. Whittle out the losers and focus on building a career network based on maybe four or five. You may not like them all that much, but their mates may be yet more fanciable or actually work in companies with proper marketing budgets! In terms of mates and jobs, "your people" who will invite you in to play are never more than three degrees of separation away and usually just one or two! God- the shags I've had from ex uni girls and freinds of a friend I just happened to take a pint with. In your late twenties it all becomes network and sublte introductions and mathc making , like it or not. Cold calling ends about 29. Onøly go to a disco with a network thereafter. Same goes in working life to some extent.

12) ladies...women have two big advantages in getting a decent job in marketing in decent company..the work suits a feminine style of agreement seekign while offering companies a chance to even out their gender balance in "management". Secondly they can tart their way in. Sods! A pretty girl even working reception is 10 times more likely to get a job in same company as a bloke from the same MSC or BSc.

Girls, you have it made if you are pretty or at least have a good curve or two. Just remember the whole whoare / madonna thing. Go tarty on days when you are NOT going to the boozer with the guys....when i say tarty, it's got to be short skirts and low blouses or tight t-shirts. On days of going to the boozer, dress conservatively in line with what marketing generally wear. The aim is to tease but be a nice girl. And the same goes for any dating ...just tease and get to know how marketing works- who calls the shots, who is leaving, getting promoted, useless, ugly, unpopular.....never shag in the department until the job contract is signed and you are appointed there!!

girls have the last great advantage of erm, being one of the girls. This means coming in with a marketing MSc to an entry level job where you maybe better qaulified than the boss is ok. Big no, no for a guy to guy thing.

last and only for the priveledged few- nepotism

14) nepotise and be evil: I have never had a good fanily network but you probably do! You are probably only two degrees of separation max away from your dream job and someone in your family 'owns someones' ass" there. They can be a supplier or a customer. This is very, very common amonsgt the lesser public shcools in england. MDs are pissed off that said expensive education has lead to shitty networking and so daddy uses dirty tricks. They coerce either suppliers by force / will of suggestion or bribe potential customers with their secring the business, or discount by employing offspring on other projects. Quite a few business deals are signed on the back of kid A getting into a job, and marketing is often the soft touch for an extra cadavre on the pie charts and point of sale material.

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