Home Blog Uncategorized Why does the marketing/communications job search process have to suck so badly?

Why does the marketing/communications job search process have to suck so badly?


I’ve been asking myself that exact question for the last 20-plus years.

And, apparently, I’m not the only one. I posed this question on LinkedIn last week and saw a tsunami of comments from friends and colleagues who have had HORRIBLE experiences in the not-so-distant past.

To be clear, I’m not currently looking for a job–haven’t been for eight-plus years now. But, I have a number of friends going through the job search process right now, and it’s reinforcing to me just how hideous this process is, and has become over the years.

It’s a process that:

1) Features recruiters who rarely return phone calls or keep you updated on where you’re at in the process

2) Might include one of the worst user experiences in the history of mankind (the online job submission process)

3) Usually takes at least twice as long as you think it will (and that might be generous)

4) Can feature panel interviews with 12 people, like one friend endured recently.

Yep, the job search process is, and has been for years, a complete joke. And here’s the thing: With so much power in the hands of the job seeker, how has this process not been refined yet?

How are companies getting away with these cumbersome online submission processes? How are they getting away with asking prospective employees to jump through all these hoops (like 12-person panel interviews)? Why isn’t this more simple?

All good questions. And all questions I’ve been asking myself for YEARS. Yet, nothing changes.

So, today I’m calling on our friends in HR to make a few changes. Here are three suggestions to moving toward a more effective system:

Commit to responding to active applicants within 24 hours

Seems reasonable, right? After all, companies often aim to respond to CUSTOMERS within 24 hours on social and other comms platforms. Why should this be any different? I mean, job seekers often turn into employees. Do you want your employees’ first experience with your company to be a frustrating one? With more brands asking employees to be brand ambassadors online (see Macy’s recent effort), I would think the answer to that question would be a resounding “NO!” Create a system where this can happen. I realize you’re busy. I realize this may mean you have to change things dramatically. But there are many tools at your disposal where you can respond to people in some way, shape or form within 24 hours. This is not a hard one.

Move away from cumbersome Applicant Tracking Systems

Talk about a niche in need of disruption. ATS’ (as they’re dubbed in the HR world) are the bane of any job-seekers existence. And, truth be told, HR teams don’t love them too much either. So, why aren’t they getting better? Good question. Disrupt and/or change this soon. The process and user experience is simply unacceptable–especially when you compare it against the frictionless experiences people have on platforms like Amazon, Uber and Netflix. This one is tougher, but not anywhere near impossible.

Stop asking for free work product

When I vented about this on LinkedIn last week, one person left the following comment: “Last July I interviewed for a director of marketing and communications position in which I was asked to prepare “some sort of marketing piece like a flier” — which was the first red flag. I created a brochure along with an email marketing piece. I was advanced to the top two and then was asked to give a “pitch presentation” for an annual event. I almost walked away but humored them. I nailed the presentation, but didn’t get the job.” Not the first time I’ve heard that story. In fact, this is eerily similar to the RFP process on the agency/consultant side. Ask for free work product. Ask the candidate/agency to jump through all sorts of onerous hoops. And don’t communicate at all throughout the process. Where do I sign up? I get that employers need “proof” that people can do the jobs they’re applying for. But, isn’t this what references are for? Maybe a writing test or small scenario test that takes under an hour? But, to ask people to develop almost full-on campaigns as part of the interview process? It’s too much. These people aren’t applying for CMO jobs. In fact, I’d probably argue the process for some of these manager/director jobs is FAR more onerous than the process faced by many CMOs during their job searches.

photo credit: Caro Wallis Sweet Sorrow via photopin (license)



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