Bait and Switch

It all started on November 17th when a 3rd party recruiter contacted me out of the blue (presumably via my LinkedIn profile) and wondered if I might have any interest in an NYC based Director of Marketing opportunity for a growing, private company in practically a recession proof sector.  I was delighted since that very title was on my short list of career goals.  The traits emphasized in the lengthy job description dovetailed with my interests as well, for example:

Opportunity
[Young, growing organization] is seeking a Director Of Marketing Operations with significant direct and interactive marketing experience. This individual will assist in the management of the marketing operations of their portfolio companies, working closely with the current Marketing Manager and CEO in developing and executing the strategies for their portfolio companies. In support of the company’s continued growth, it recognizes the need to better formalize and manage campaign development and implementation, while at the same time instituting appropriate, disciplined and consistent metrics.

Position Summary
The Director of Marketing Operations will play an integral role in maximizing the company’s marketing assets and provide the vision and implementation of end-to-end processes to ensure marketing optimization. This person will be responsible for creating and managing a measurable and trackable Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) throughout the organization, resulting in improved marketing effectiveness.

Don't let this man interview you!

Don't let this man interview you!

The first interview with the hiring manager in November went very well as we went through the job description line by line and discussed all my applicable talents.  I was even assured through out the holiday season that they would get back in touch for a second interview.  When I finally met them again, the line of questioning had changed.  The hiring manager and his baby-faced colleague were more interested in my technical skills than anything I’d have to offer from a marketing strategy standpoint.  This didn’t set off any alarms right away since I’m nothing if not versatile and I definitely enjoy the actual implementation aspects of campaign execution. 

However, the meeting grew even more tangential as the manager inexplicably name dropped “Mr. Trump” and a project they were working on and how revenues were projected to be in the $40mm range.  At the time, I thought it was merely tacky but rationalized that he might have wanted to prove to a potential hire that they were in fact, on the up and up.  As the interview wrapped up, they reassured me that I had renewed their interest and I’d hear back soon.

Sure enough the next day, I was contacted for references and asked if I might be interested in a contracting position since that would be a unique opportunity for both parties to “try before they buy.”  The original job deception, excuse me, description was rendered a complete work of fiction since they found time to re-org since our last meeting! Not wanting to rule anything out in this economy, I reluctantly said I was open to it even though my own interest had all but waned.  The hourly consulting fee they offered was a full 25% less than my asking rate which they were fully aware of in November!  When I said that was an unacceptable offer, I was assured that there would be “employee stock options” at which point I made a mental note to buy a new phone because the model I was on didn’t have a mute button which was sorely needed to muffle my laughter!  I lived through the 90s and I know how the employee stock option story line ends!

All is not lost though.  I’ve already made it to the 2nd round at not one but two organizations in 2009 which has kept my interviewing skills sharp and the realization that I might be forced to contend with equally ridiculous offers in the future without a mute button at my disposal was the perfect excuse to treat myself to a BlackBerry today!

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3 Responses

  1. A most unpleasant bait and switch – glad you’re too savvy to take the bait – hook, line and sinker! If this new deception tactic is indeed rampant, it is both insulting (to you and others of parallel talents and ambitions) and conducive to forming yet another echelon of mistrust – not the sort of atmosphere that facilitates seeing the light at the end of the recession…

  2. If its any concilation, I started my job hunt last September and have encountered at least 5 cases where we get to the point where they are ready to make an offer and the company says they are going to hold off on hiring due to the economy, cash flow, etc. On the other hand I did get an offer for a job i was not interested in out in LA.

    Anyway, all in all a pretty shitty job market with the people that have money wanting to do some cherry picking. I have a feeling this is going to backfire on companies though. The good people can smell cheap bastards a mile away and will definitely stay away from them.

    The only interesting tip I can offer you is to try the retainer route versus using contingency recruiters. It requires a lot more work to get an introduction and build a relationship with them, but the upside is that all of their openings are legit and they usually do most of the screening up front to prevent time wastage. I am starting that process now, though I still have not found someone who can do an intro. My two cents. Good luck.

  3. That reminds of a job I interviewed for (and got, unfortunately) in 1997. I was interested in publishing around that time, and came across a listing that specified they were looking for someone with a love of literature to help them put together catalogs for publication and marketing, as well as assist with editing on novels, poetry and short story submissions.

    Well…it turned out to be a job in Yonkers on Nepperhan Ave in a book warehouse where unsold books, mostly obsolete edition textbooks, were purchased wholesale, had their front covers removed, and were sold at discount rates. I literally would enter purchase orders, sometimes go through the dusty sky-high industrial stacks collecting the orders on pallets myself, and send out invoices.

    I lasted for about three months before I quit and turned my part-time bartending into a full-time job.

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