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Another Reminder to be Wary of Sales Jobs Listed as Public Relations, Advertising or Marketing

February 18, 2014 3 comments

As predicted, one of the local West Michigan firms that has been deceptively posting sales / event promotion jobs as marketing, advertising and public relations jobs has changed names.  I received a tip from a former employee that Prestige Enterprises is now “Xcell Enterprizes.”

That appears to be confirmed by a job posting on Indeed.com where they used the Prestige Enterprises login to post jobs for Xcell Enterprizes (and the fact that the Prestige Enterprises website is now dead):

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The name change was likely necessary because word was again getting out about the quality of the working environment.  Unfortunately operations like these tend to churn through a lot of employees, so they spend an inordinate amount of time recruiting.  That turnover is also a sign that you should be wary about applying for a job with any organization that has a lot of jobs posted.  Here are some other ways you can tell if a job posting is worth responding to:

  1. Real People?: Check their website and social media presences for photos of actual, real people (look in the “About” section for bios).  It’s a Red Flag if they don’t have any or if the people listed aren’t visible in the community.
  2. Cool Clients?: Do they talk about “Sports Marketing,” “Entertainment Industry,” “Fashion Marketing,” “Fortune 500,” or other really desirable industries that seem too good to be true? – Red Flag: they probably are.
  3. Suspicious Words?: Does the job description use terms like “Entry Level,” “Fast-Paced,” “Competitive Environment,” “No Experience Needed,” “Rapid Advancement,”  or “High Energy.”  Guess what? – “Red Flag!”
  4. Degree Required?: Does the job require a bachelor’s degree?  If not – it’s a Red Flag.
  5. Do They Rank?: Search for the company name in your local business publications (for example the Grand Rapids Business Journal, MiBiz or Rapid Growth) – have they made any lists?  Are there any profiles of their executives or employees?  If not – that’s a Red Flag.
  6. Stock Photography?: Is their website covered with stock photography? – Red Flag.  [If you’re not sure if the photography is stock, try opening a separate browser window and opening Google Images – then drag the image from the website over to the Google Images search bar.  That will do a search for images like that one, and if you turn up a bunch of identical results of the same photo used on other sites it’s most likely stock.]
  7. Registered?: Check your local County Registrar or the Michigan State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (DLEG) – they will allow you to search for people who have applied for DBA record (“Doing Business As”).  Most, like Kent County, have an online search feature. This can tell you who is behind the company and much more about them – particularly the State of Michigan DLEG directory; it contains the company’s annual report and incorporation documents (watch for companies where the same person holds all of the offices – ie President, Secretary, Treasurer, Director).  Not listed? – Red Flag.
  8. Boilerplate Copy?: Find what appears to be a unique string of text somewhere in their website (usually from the “About” section) and search for it in quotes in Google.  When the results come back, if you see the exact same string of text in multiple other websites – you’ll know they’re not legit.  Note: Google will sometimes omit similar results – so you may need to click the “repeat the search with the omitted results included” link. If you find matches, it’s a Red Flag.
  9. Linkedin?: Look for a company on Linkedin.  They should have a company page (especially if they’re a marketing, advertising or public relations firm).  If they don’t have one, Red Flag.  If they DO have one, you can use it to get more intel on the company: if you view a company page and click “Insights,” it will give you a wealth of data.  You can find out who some former employees are (so you can look up their work history or perhaps even contact them to get insight on how it was working there), who some current employees are, what similar companies people also search for, and the most common places their employees came from.
  10. Lots of Jobs?: Search for the company on job websites (I recommend Indeed.com, which is right now by far the best job website).  If they have a LOT of positions posted and yet they’re small enough that you’ve never heard of them, that should be a big Red Flag.  Just look, for example, at how many positions Xcell Enterprizes is trying to fill (and the variety of titles).
  11. Irrational Exuberance?: Exclamation! points! are! a! Red Flag!!!  The more a job description uses, the more likely it’s not something you’re looking for.

Let me reiterate that I have no problems with sales jobs.  What I have a problem with is falsely advertising a sales job as something it’s not (ie public relations, marketing or advertising).

Contrary to what companies like Prestige/Xcell claim, these “entry level” jobs will not give you experience that is transferable to a career in marketing/advertising/PR.  They won’t build your skills, give you relevant experience, and any hiring manager worth his/her salt can see through the title to discern that the job you came from was in sales.

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Sales Jobs Falsely Positioned as Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising (An Update)

October 17, 2013 2 comments

Earlier I wrote about some companies in the West Michigan area that attempt to recruit young professionals into direct sales jobs by positioning those jobs as careers in advertising, marketing and public relations.  To clarify my position – I have nothing against sales as a vocation.  I have family members and friends that work in sales.  What I take issue with is recruiting people under false pretenses.  Though Sales and Marketing work hand-in-hand, saying a job in Sales is the same as a job in Marketing is like saying a Comptroller is the same as a Firefighter.

“Marketing” is a word that has been bastardized (and is frequently used interchangeably with Public Relations and Advertising).  True “marketing” requires that an organization have control of the “Marketing Mix” or the “Four P’s”: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.   Direct sellers do not control any of those things (save occasionally the promotion).

If anyone is unclear on the difference between Sales and Marketing, here’s an excerpt from an article by Dorie Clark in the Harvard Business Review that outlines the larger difference:

“Recognize the difference between marketing and sales. There’s often a lot of confusion about marketing and sales. Indeed, many executives have both in their titles — where does one discipline end and the other begin? Here’s my quick definition: marketing is what you do to make clients come to you, while sales is about you reaching out to them and closing the deal. They’re both important and complementary — the former is longer-term and creates a valuable pipeline for the coming months and years; the latter is what’s going to help you make payroll next week. Ideally, your company should have a strong mix of both to keep your cash flow balanced; if not, you’re going to have to adjust accordingly.” – (2012), “Marketing for the Extremely Shy,” Harvard Business Review 

In a more specific, occupational sense, jobs in Advertising/PR/Marketing almost universally require college degrees whereas jobs in Sales almost universally do not.

Why this practice concerns me is that it stands to negatively affect the careers of young professionals.  This entry level work in sales will not readily translate into experience that a future employer at an actual Marketing, Advertising or PR agency would value in a hiring decision.

Here are a sampling of some misleading job descriptions I was just able to find today with a quick Google search, including jobs from another company I haven’t seen before falsely selling itself as doing “marketing” – T.E.M. Inc.  :

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Other companies that fit this model include:

– Craig James, Inc. (Glassdoor Reviews)
– Prospect Solutions, Inc (Glassdoor Reviews)
– MLM Sports Marketing
– Excel Enterprises
– Excel Marketing
– Eminence Management