Epiphany! I finally figured out why I haven’t been getting hired, and why no one was telling me.
After months of applying to hundreds of jobs, going through countless interviews, Zoom meetings, and being introduced to everyone from the Founder and CEO to the janitor and night watchman at most places, which is a process that spanned weeks & months, I finally figured it out today.
I had been resistant to blaming being passed over on the 99-yard line each and every time after months of interviews at companies on external factors. It would seem easy to just cast blame on me being a middle-aged white guy in the middle of a new, Woke America. I don’t buy into all that racism and separatist jive and think it’s a negative place to be. No one thought like that until modern politics and media loomed more heavily from above over the past 13 years and America has been redefined culturally by those that aim to do so and spend their vast amounts of free time and money doing it. And the USA is worse, not better for it, in my opinion. But that’s another topic.
I had yet another, the millionth such preliminary “introductory” phone interview today to see what was the deal with my interest and to learn a little about the position and company and ask about how much money I wanted. That’s something that has become fine for the employer to ask right off the bat these days. It has always been forbidden for the candidate to come into the first meeting and ask about compensation. It was viewed as tacky, aggressive, inconsiderate about the job and company at hand, and putting the cart before the horse. But that doesn’t apply for employers who ask, right on the application these days, “What are your salary expectations?” Something to ponder and possibly a sense of who feels they have the upper hand and more leverage at the negotiation table. But not always. The person who puts down the first number is the one who yields in negotiations. It’s an unnecessary silly game sometimes, but one I know how to play.
So today we were going through the usual hoops and we got to those questions and I answered as I always do, which is to say the company would have a better idea of what the salary should be since they are the ones with the expectations and need are for the job, and know what better far what’s involved than I do. I tell them I know what the Bureau of Labor pins the average salary for a Marketing Manager in the US, which is $141,490/year. I tell them what I’ve been making, what I asked for hourly when I was consulting, which is a 1099 proposition, and tell them those are some benchmarks and ask what they have budgeted since they want to be so proactive about the subject.
At that time, the conversation results in a hasty closure. And I think sets some flags in the dirt that shouldn’t be there. Not by me, mind you, but by people who don’t know how to negotiate who have been given the responsibility of negotiating salary for the company in the very first introductory phase, which is unfair and leads to bad hires. It’s not uncommon for me to be speaking with an assistant of the hiring person, or someone not even in the marketing department at all, who has no bargaining experience or ability to do what their boss should be doing. But that’s how it goes. I’ve seen it so much.
The job I was in talks about today had a lower salary than what I’ve been getting which was to be expected after we spoke about the expectations. I’d be doing less work, less high-level, visionary, strategic work, and a lot less supervision over others and therefore wouldn’t merit a high six-figure salary obviously. That’s reasonable, no? That’s fine. Few have a perfectly uninterrupted upward-trending career salary projection. If you do, your job is boring and static. Which suits some people. I’m not bashing it. I’m not like that.
But it hit me at that time. This person thinks I’m overqualified for the job he has and thinks I wouldn’t be suited for some reason, or happy doing something that required me to use every tool and experience and skill possible and going at 100% with all my abilities running full throttle. But he doesn’t want to tell me I’m overqualified for what they have available because it would make their company seem less sophisticated. That’s understandable. Louisville isn’t a city where we have a long list of firms that have such needs. NYC, LA, Miami, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, etc…yes. But I’m not moving to any of those places, ever.
Plus there’s really no job like that besides start-up CEO who’s a 20-something with unbridled energy, hope, and freshly-minted from a high-level Physics program. Even a CMO doesn’t go full throttle and roll up their sleeves and do coding, copywriting, strategy, 5-10 year plans, competitive analysis, SEO, advertising, and all the rest as a career. There’s no way. I’ve come close in one job, but that was a wild ride and eventually, we ended up having to hire lots of people to handle the workload I was juggling.
It became clear that all the hiring managers and CEOs were thinking they were going to need to compensate me for everything I have under my belt. And from looking at my resume, which is a giant workbench of tools, experience, skills, networks, talents, and passions I have and can use at any given time in any way, much like a music producer or maestro of a symphony that can play any instrument and knows music by ear, that doesn’t mean he wants to be the entire orchestra. Not at ALL. Please also understand I’m speaking about this situation as a matter of consequence. I’m not trying to brag or flash my resume everywhere for all to behold at all. I’m just realizing what has been happening right in front of me.
And THAT has been the problem. An assumption of overqualification, when the fact of the matter is I want to focus on one area of marketing that makes the most sense to use for the company and product/service I would be working on. They see my resume and think “C-level” when I’m looking at the job and company and thinking “marketing help.” How can I help them? Just because I have a whole truckload of tools doesn’t mean I want or need to use them all.
So, that explains something I’ve been grappling with for months, and believe it will make a big difference when I speak with people about a position from here on out. This proves what I discussed in my essay about what a big difference there is between what people are saying and the listening that’s going on. It makes so much difference when it comes to achieving a meeting of the minds.