Seriously, Am I Misunderstanding Marketing?
I’ve interviewed at several “marketing firms” and all of them turned out to be direct sales schemes
I learned more about communications and writing than most of my peers while in school because I majored in creative writing. A highly underrated subject, creative writing taught me how to properly formulate an argument, how to write an idea concisely, and how to keep an audience engaged.
I studied English and creative writing in college in order to become — you guessed it — a writer. Whether that was a novelist or a journalist or a freelancer, I wanted to use my skills to help people who needed it. Early on in my career search, I realized there weren’t a lot of publishing companies or magazines hiring poets or novelists right now, so I decided to expand my search to other fields that my related background could cover. I landed on marketing and development as a viable option for myself.
My prior knowledge of a marketing career came mostly from television and movies. But my first direct connection to a marketing firm came from a job I used to have with a non-profit organization that hired an outside marketing firm to help advance our reputation. I thought it was amazing what they were doing. They were helping us plan events, manage social media, and retain donors and sponsors year round. I thought it sounded like an awesome job that was in place to help organizations and companies grow.
Unfortunately, every job I’ve interviewed for that claimed to be an entry level marketing and PR position with promises of career advancement and skill growth has turned out to be a front for nothing more than face-to-face and door-to-door sales. Now I want to make it clear that I don’t think there is anything wrong with a career in direct sales. I think it’s a hard job; I certainly couldn’t do it. I had a commission job in college where I sold sunglasses. I was paid minimum wage but the majority of my pay was meant to come from sales. I sold maybe four pairs of sunglasses in the five months I worked there. Because I’m a horrible salesperson.
Some people thrive in that kind of fast-paced and competitive market. I, however, do not. Which is why I am so disappointed in all of these jobs that I am going after. I read the job descriptions and qualifications closely before applying, get super excited when I get an interview, and then find myself annoyed or upset when I find out it wasn’t what I thought it was.
While this particular case was one for the books, nearly every other “marketing” job I’ve interviewed for did the same thing this company did: Put up a job positing promising growth and riches, but turns out it’s entirely commission based face-to-face sales.
So I had to ask myself a question: Was I misunderstanding what a career in marketing actually was? Was I assuming working in marketing was something else entirely? Or was I just being played over and over again.
I looked up the definition of “marketing” on Google and found several results, including different kinds of marketing. According to Google’s dictionary, marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
This definition aligns closely with what I thought marketing was before I started on a job hunt. So then why are all of these firms promoting their openings as marketing and PR, when in actuality they’re hiring for sales staff?
The problem lies within the definition of marketing itself. There are several kinds of marketing, including direct marketing, email marketing, and event marketing. Something tells me all of these offices I’ve applied to avoid using the term “direct” in their marketing ads because they know it will turn away those of us interested in email or content marketing.
The issue with not being straight with applicants is that the hiring managers and HR coordinators are not only wasting my time, but wasting their own time as well. I’m not interested in a sales job; I’m interested in writing and planning and research. Despite doing my due diligence and reading the fine print of each job opening, I’m still getting roped into interviews at companies that promise “financial and skill growth,” “ownership of your own business,” and more BS to entice applicants. Seriously, the hiring manager at that last job interview went on and on for at least ten minutes about the company’s annual trip to the Bahamas. Seriously?
I know not all marketing firms are the same, but I’ve got a sour taste in my mouth after so many failed interviews. Here’s to all of us getting through this rough job-finding phase together.