In my perspective, a perk of having a career in user acquisition and search marketing is great because you are always presented with new career opportunities without even trying (especially when you are already employed).
In an average month, I have approximately 3-4 companies trying to recruit me directly, most of which are CEOs and founders themselves, and of those, about 1-2 recruiters working on behalf of companies. I love the folks that reach out to me based on referrals from people I worked with in the past because it's great validation that they genuinely enjoyed working with me or valued my work. It's flattering to be wanted and it's great because it allows me to not worry about being jobless and allows me to relax in general.
User acquisition and search marketing is in such a high demand for companies and not many people have the hands-on experience of understanding how the marketing channels operate, how to manage it, and how to optimize the channels to success and gain meaningful insights. In addition, there tends to be a lot of turnover given the high-stress that comes with the job. Because of this, there are a lot of career opportunities and not many right-fit people to fill in those shoes.
I recently was in a position to consider taking a role of marketing director & first time hire for a start-up that I completely respect and admire but I declined it. The team was driven & passionate about their product and we got along great; I'd be marketing for a product that I can personally relate to and have a passion for (food-related), I'd be establishing the entire marketing department from scratch and will be making decisions that would impact the company's success directly. It sounded like my dream job but as much as I wanted to be on-board, I realized that this opportunity wasn't the right fit for me as I took a step back and realized how completely happy my life currently is from a career standpoint (and in general):
- I am happy & enjoy working at Alibris*: I'm in the position where I can make impactful changes & decisions, learn new marketing skill sets (mostly self-taught) and work on the marketing projects that excite me (mostly!). I have a fantastic team that I love working & hanging out with. I also love that our company is focused on books (we promote the joy of reading, huzzah!).
*I left Alibris on 11/22/13 after working there for 1.7 years. What I mentioned above was true for my position at one point but the joyful work environment was replaced by poor inexperienced leadership and management, lack of vision and direction, politics, and endless loads of work that wasn't feasible for one person to handle.
- I am already passionate about what I do: I love marketing.
- I enjoy and greatly appreciate my work/life balance: I have a flexible work schedule which helps a lot with being able to spend time with my husband, friends, and work on my side projects/consulting or hobbies. I have weekends free to enjoy doing the things I love and enjoy my outdoors/social lifestyle. These are the important things in life that matter to me and my current work/life balance caters to this.
- I have a short commute of less than 25 minutes where I'm able to ride my bike and take public transportation, so I do not have to sit in hours of traffic. I'm all about saving time and being efficient.
- I am living very well, happily, & comfortably.
I definitely consider all career opportunities when presented to me (as I think everyone should) and see how it best fits with my life. Because my life is so great the way that it currently is, the opportunities that knock on my door will be considered only if they meet most of the criteria that I listed above (and more) and most importantly, caters to my personal lifestyle. I'm willing to compromise for the right career move but at the end of the day, the most important thing to me is working somewhere with fantastic people, making an impact for the business, being able to spend time with the people I love and doing the things that I love outside of work.
Given all of this, here are 9 things to consider when a new career opportunity knocks on your door based upon my experiences and thought process:
1. The People and the Company Culture/Values
Ask Yourself: Does the company have a culture that you respect & admire? Does the corporate or non-corporate culture align with your own values? What kind of people work there and how do they work together? Do they truly work as a team?
Culture plays an extremely important role in your happiness and impacts people's morale and motivation to drive the company's success. If the company does not have healthy values present or if the people at the company do not genuinely care for one another or for the company, it may not be a good sign and should be carefully factored in.
2. The Leadership Team
Ask Yourself: Do you agree with the leadership and their plans for the company? What kind of vision do they have? Does the leadership care for their employees well-being? Do most of the people in the company approve of the leadership - why or why not? Do the leaders interact with employees of all-levels? Do the leaders provide mentorship? Are they transparent and trustworthy? Can you learn from the leadership team?
In my experience, great leaders can bring their entire team on-board with their vision and carry them through success with guidance and experience. Leaders should help shape culture, be a part of it, and they should want to see their entire team succeed and grow, not just at the company but outside of it as well. I've been in companies with fantastic leadership, mediocre leadership, & extremely poor leadership. Within the extremely poor leadership bucket, there were high levels of turnover of employees, low morale, and depression, so make sure the company you decide to work with has a leaderships style that you're on board with.
3. Your Manager
Ask Yourself: Does your manager understand your responsibilities and help support you? Can your manager help lead you to a path of success? What can you learn from your manager? Do you think your manager will be the yin to your yang, work well with you, and have a good relationship with you? Is your manager understanding? Is your manager hands-off or involved? Will your manager stand by you, have your back, and fight for you if they need to? Does your manager understand your needs at work in order for you to be happy? Is your manager professional? Is there a mutual respect?
This is a very important consideration as it will affect your direct happiness and growth within your career and company. I've had my share of bad managers and know what characteristics to avoid completely when considering a new job. Being able to work together, learn from one another, and have mutual respect is key. It's extremely important to understand your manager's work style, in addition to getting a sense of what areas they have knowledge in. Try to get a idea of your manager's work style by requesting to chat with the team members, and be sure to reach out to your network to see if you know anyone in common. This is where LinkedIn endorsements could be helpful to get a gauge (be careful though as not all of them are completely true), or try a simple Google search.
4. Your Department Team
Ask Yourself: How does your team work together? Is it the type of team that collaborates or is it the type of team where each person works independently? Does the team go to lunches together? Can you trust the people in your team?
You will be spending most of your time with the people in your team, so it's important to try to understand what your team dynamic will be like and figure out how they all interact with one another at work. Having a fantastic team makes work more joyful and makes you want to come to work. This is also where LinkedIn endorsements could be helpful to get a gauge of who you'd be working with.
5. Compensation & Expected Hours for your Job Responsibilities
Ask Yourself: Does the compensation justify your job responsibilities and the hours you'll be spending at your company? Will you be required to work additional nights and/or weekends? Is traveling involved?
Consider your compensation for the time spent at work and for the role you're considering; you may be getting a bump in salary but will you be working more hours? If so, is that compensation worth it to you or is your work/life balance more important? Is the compensation justified for the new role you're be taking on? Take a look at the industry standard by looking at Glassdoor.com and evaluate salaries of those in similar positions to be used as a benchmark.
6. The Location / Commute
Ask Yourself: How far is your current commute versus the commute to the new company? How much time in traffic are you willing to put up with?
There was a recent article titled "Long Commutes Raises Health Risks Study Says" that says commuting 30 miles or more a day can shorten your life, increase poor health, and negatively affect relationships. From experience, I used to commute over an hour a day for 5 years and found myself to be extremely unhappy and stressed out, which also caused stress on my relationships. Now I have a fantastic commute and I worry less about wasting my time.
7. Career Growth Opportunities
Ask Yourself: How do you advance in the company? How will you be setup for success?
Depending on what your plans are for advancement within a company, it's important to understand how the organizational structure works and if there is room for growth and placement for positions you want to eventually work up to.
8. The Company's History, Reputation, and Path to Success
Ask Yourself: Is the company profitable? If not, why? Does the company have a history of lay offs? How does the company treat their employees and their customers? What is the outlook on the path to success at the company and is it realistic? What is the employee turnover rate? Is the company acquired? How is the company funded?
Before you get into bed with someone, you should get an idea of what their past was like and if they have had any oddities. I apply the questions above to companies when evaluating the health of their business and make sure that it's the right decision for me. I tend to gravitate towards unstable companies since I like the thrill of start-ups and the challenge of declining businesses, so maybe that's your cup of tea, too. Whatever your preference is, be sure to know who you're getting in bed with.
9. Your (Possible) New Job vs Your Current Job
Ask Yourself: Should I really leave my current job? What does the new job have to offer that my current job doesn't? What is causing me to want to leave my current company?
Determine the positive and negative aspects of your current job situation using all items above from #1 to #9. Step out of your box and understand what it is you're looking for in your next career move and whether or not you current company can accommodate to that. I've known tons of people to leave their current companies to regret their decision because they didn't evaluate important factors into their choice and for them to find out that their new company "is not what they expected it to be". Carefully evaluating the factors above will give you a better probability of success in your decision.
It will be difficult to figure out the answers to the questions above but you can get a gauge of the company by asking the right questions and doing some research - check your networks, talk to the right people, look up Linkedin endorsements, and read reviews on Glassdoor.com (but do be cautious of the reviews as they're not all it seems to be).
In the end, only you will know what's best for you and your current situation, so you just have to trust your heart and instincts. I've made my career choices using the considerations above and it's mostly worked for me with a few kinks here and there as to be expected. I have always trusted my instincts and it has always led me towards the right direction in my career and happiness.
Posted by: Brenda Ton