How To Not Get 'Burned' In Today's 'Hot Market'
Published on 03/10/2022
The past couple years (2020 and 2021) have been crazy years, not just because of the pandemic and all the crazy things going on in the world - but also because of the job market. Email Marketing, especially in relation to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, careers have blossomed to unprecedented heights over this time.
This means we are all looking at opportunities and compensation options that we may not have seen for many years further in our careers. This sounds amazing right? Well it is - but as with anything, there is always stuff you need to watch out for to ensure you find what is best for you and not get blinded by the 'shiny' salary offers being thrown at you.
To that extent, HowToSFMC put together a quick Q&A panel to help address this and ensure we help people both job seekers as well as hiring managers find the best path forward to make a happy future. This panel included:
Amanda Turner - Moderator
Genna Matson - Retained Job Seeker
Heather McCullough - Job Seeker (current role)
Jessica Lewis - Job Seeker (no current role)
Aysha Marie Zouain - Hiring Manager (Brand Side)
Greg Gifford - Hiring Manager (Agency Side)
The goal of the panel was to give voice to as many sides and aspects of the job market as possible to ensure we pass the most relevant and impactful information.
Although the panel was not recorded, we wanted to provide a resource that housed this information for easy reference for those that may have missed it or want a refresher from the call.
This is the 'hot take' from each panelist on the current market. These sections are purely the opinion of the person speaking and are not representative of HowToSFMC's thoughts or beliefs.
Genna Matson is a Salesforce Marketing Champion, former SF MVP, and a Marketing Cloud subject matter expert. She is very active in many communities and community groups as well as being one of the co-founders of HowToSFMC. She is currently 3x certified in Salesforce Marketing Cloud and is representing for someone that has stayed at their current job (although she has recently transitioned to a new role).
"Entry level curious self-starters will excel in the current environment. Those who prefer a fully structured training program to learn on might want to get exposure to trailhead before entering the resource pool."
Essentially Genna is discussing how with this growth and huge demand in our market, onboarding and training are greatly impacted. A lot of times you will be left to essentially 'figure things out on your own' which can be jarring for many people and make them very uncomfortable. So for those that are not comfortable with a more 'trial by fire' environment, you may want to do more preparation for the role prior to diving in.
Genna goes on to state: "Remember that your skills are highly valuable and in the business world you have to be loyal to yourself before anyone else or you will not get your full value and set others coming behind you at a disadvantage on entry." Although other context is hugely important, Genna emphasizes you need to focus on getting yourself in at a level that is matching with your value. Coming in low can not only harm you, but those that come in after you.
Genna gives us one last piece of advice: "There are lots of communities in this ecosystem; Trailhead, Localized and Virtual Community Groups, HowToSFMC, StackExchange, EmailGeeks, Women of Email, Women of MarTech and the list goes on. 90% of community members LOVE helping and assisting and providing guidance and membership. Please reach out, to me personally @gemliza (twitter) on all the things, or to any community member at anytime about anything. Helping you, watching your development and success brings us joy."
Heather is a current SF Marketing Champion and is 4x certified in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. She has had over 20 years of experience in the industry and is currently working as a Salesforce Marketing Cloud Architect.
Heather was the representative to the job seeker that transitioned into another job from their current position. In that vein, she wanted to share a few tips on what to do to ensure you make the right decision:
Research the company you're interviewing with - Glassdoor or Comparably (or similar)
Highly recommend taking notes when interviewing with multiple companies at the same time
Write down your questions, don't let excitement of the interview make you forget them.
Make sure to ask the most important subjective questions of each person you interview with. It can add some color for your decision making process down the road
Then, be honest with yourself when evaluating a job offer, evaluate it against your goals. If you love the company but it's going to take you in the wrong direction career-wise, then maybe it's not the best move.
Heather further expands by saying: "The good news is that right now you have options, keep asking for what you're worth and if you don't find what you're looking for right away just give it some time."
Jessica is a certified Email Specialist and Salesforce Ranger. She has worked across many different career paths and many different focuses - but ultimately settled on Salesforce Marketing Cloud. She is currently working as a Manager of Product Operations.
Jessica was representing a job seeker that did not currently hold another position. She was able to find a wonderful opportunity right before the event - but that, in our opinion, further validated her points of views to show the success of her approach.
Jessica cited her two-month journey as a full-time job seeker in this market and how that journey affected her. Right around December of 2021 the job she previously held was eliminated as part of a staffing reduction.
This was not the holiday season she was expecting and certainly she was not prepared to be re-entering the job market. Now, she recounts us a few unique experiences and shares a very small sample of what she did, what she did not do, what she should have done, and what she should not have done during her time on the market.
"I want to start by telling you about a job offer I received.," Jessica begins. "This was the first offer extended to me, and I'd had an amazing conversation with the hiring manager. I was completely sold on working with her and her team, but I still didn't know what the company actually did. This was a yellow flag to me personally because I have previous experience working for companies that were hard to pin down, and those jobs did not end well for me." She states that the decision not to take this job could be considered a "it's not you, it's me" situation.
"So what did I do to help me make a decision?" she asks. "I found people on LinkedIn who had this company listed as a previous employer, and I contacted them to ask about their experience." She then tells about her surprise that people actually replied and that although they had different jobs than what she was applying for, the themes they mentioned about the company were common.
"This leads into the thing I didn't do, which was accept an offer I wasn't excited about as a whole." she said. "I have the tremendous fortune to finally be on a career path that is in demand, and I have the privilege of choice." She goes on to talk about how hot the market is, stating she applied for 84 jobs and had 82 interviews over a 37-day period!
The thing she says she "should have done" is be firm about "getting a budgeted salary range for each opportunity before the first call." Although she had little trouble with this, the salary transparency is a major factor in which phone screens one should take. She says the most important thing is to not "move forward with job opportunities that did not offer competitive pay." The market is a seekers market and there is no need for the seeker to diverge from the market pay they deserve.
"I'm not proud to tell you I kept going in a few opportunities I knew I wouldn't accept if they were offered to me because of the salary. They made me feel I had options when my last job was taken away." Jessica stated.
She concludes her advice by stating: "I think my last job should have given us free therapy sessions after the layoff!."
Aysha Marie Zouain is currently a Senior Manager of Marketing Automation with over 10 years of experience in email marketing and general digital marketing. Over the last few years, she has developed a specialization in SFMC, but has worked across multiple platforms and functions over her career. She holds the SFMC Email Specialist certification and is an SF Marketing Champion. She is the representative for a hiring manager from the brand side (non-agency) and is also a bilingual Spanish speaker and is of mixed Dominican and Lebanese heritage.
Aysha started off discussing her thoughts on recruiters. "Many are quite decent though its like a coin toss, you never know what you may get." She goes on to state that recruiter quality is very inconsistent, even in major recruitment againes: "...agencies like Robert Half and Creative Circle, I've had great experiences while some of my peers have not."
So if recruiters are not the best source, where else can you go? Aysha shares this: "Generally I find listings in email geeks community, emailgeeks.io, women of email and LinkedIn..." these along with networking and word of mouth as you grow into your place in the community.
Once you have found a candidate pool, then Aysha recommends you start discussion on the "potentials about organization, lunch and learns, education and conference budget." She continues: "I make sure to have at least 1 and if possible 2 a year since conferences have been crucial to me professionally as I move into higher stations and wished it had been available to me before as an employee of larger corporations." This is not a common practice in other jobs and may help differentiate your offer from the offer at other companies for the candidate.
Now you have a candidate and you need to make sure they are the right fit...how? "Ask specific nuanced platform questions that only professionals would know about." She then elaborates: "Some of my favorites are as follows: Why are lists used instead of data extensions? Why are data extensions better? What is the difference between personalization strings and AMPscript logic? What would you do if Automations stops working?" By digging into knowledge that is not clearly defined or 'memoizable' helps to weed out those that actually know the platform and those that are just trying to get inside the door.
Lastly, she tackled the compensation and salary issue. She says that in today's market it is hard to find budget to account for this salary growth, but through working with those that are higher up in the organization and reviewing the budget prioritization they have made great strides in becoming more 'on market' than many.
It is not something, especially at a larger organization, that can be easily done - so there are many pitfalls you need to be aware of as you join some of these large places that do offer that salary. Most likely there is a wage gap between those that are current employees and those that were hired in - which can cause major issues as time goes on.
So if there is just no way to get budget, what do we do? "Hire contractors - which makes me a bit sad since the work only continues to pile on as practitioners." Aysha shares that in the current market, the short term solution is the smart solution. The temporary help will get the job done without significant long term impact to budget.
One last word of advice that Aysha wanted to share, "Always counter [on an offer] and ask "Is this negotiable" and let the employer respond. Professionally, I respect those who do more." She continues: "Personally it shows me that you care about your bottom line as much as working for your future employer."
Greg is a SF MVP, Marketing Champion and 4x certified SFMC Subject Matter Expert. He has his own SFMC focused blog, Gortonington.com, and is very active in many communities, such as EmailGeeks, Salesforce StackExchange as well as a speaker at multiple events and community groups. He is a co-founder of HowToSFMC and has a book, Automating Salesforce Marketing Cloud, that is set to be released in May of 2022.
Greg is representing the perspective of the hiring manager on the agency side. He starts off stating: "I must say that the past couple years have been the most chaotic years from a resourcing perspective I have ever seen. With such a boom in the industry, the amount of work coming in has exponentially increased, which is awesome, but it also true for most other companies as well. This means everyone is scrambling to get in new resources." He continues "At first this was great as it was pulling in people that needed the jobs and having most of the market resources being hired." But, as those resources were all hired, it very quickly turned to existing employees transitioning to new roles instead. Greg continued by saying "This causes chaos for those managers as they now not only need to hire for the new work, but also find a comparable resource to fill the resignation."
It is at this point, he stated that he felt the salary inflation began. People were so desperate to bring in new people that they started throwing money at the problem in hopes to draw in new resources away from their current employers. This led people to "get new opportunities they might not have been able to have for years - further escalating needs and compensation."
"The problem this leads to is sustainability." He begins. Further expanding that although it is amazing to have the power as a job seeker to get these awesome opportunities, as a manager we need to think beyond the 'now' and think about the future. Offering the crazy salaries can bring in great talent and produce great things now, but when the market 'cools off', you are going to be left with a negative budget - which no company will enjoy. "Cooling off of incoming work means you now need to cut down your cost - usually meaning termination and reduction of your team." he states. "Which is, in my opinion, a very short-sighted type of behavior and not at all a way to appropriately grow a team."
This can lead to giving your company a bad reputation when layoffs come around, meaning that in the long run you are going to be losing all that great talent and making it harder for you to get in new talent. "Then comes to the issue of - how do I retain/hire at a sustainable rate while the market is so crazy?" he asks. "The answer - a lot of luck and a lot of guesswork." There is no definitive game plan, as this type of situation has not really been seen before in this market. "You need to gamble...ALOT" he further expands. "The most important thing to do is to create an environment of transparency and have the conversation with your team about their future and ensure that they have all the facts in hand when they are presented with these outside opportunities."
Greg states that he feels the market has reached its peak and that over the next year or so it will begin to decline. "This means that some of those 'too good to be true' jobs will have a very limited lifespan." Greg states. He goes on to talk about how at this point taking a new job could be even more risky than it was before. Starting a new job puts you as the least senior, and usually the last person in tends to be the first person out. This on top of the likelihood of your compensation being higher, means that you are a more significant cost in comparison to others - reducing your overall value to the organization.
"Losing your new job can become a very high risk endeavor." he says. "If you do not prepare for it, you can find yourself in a position where jobs are hard to come by and anything available is far lower than what you were originally were making." He states this is because when the market cools, many very talented people will be looking for jobs during a time when there are only a few jobs out there. His final advice for the job seeker is to "put in as much if not more effort into every interview and job opportunity you get as does the hiring manager. This is to ensure the opportunity is something that fits with what you want, not just in the type of job, but in job security, longevity and future career pathing."
He wanted to emphasize that this is not to say that you should not explore new opportunities nor ask for what you are worth - just be careful and considering when looking at them. There are still many awesome opportunities out there and sometimes even taking a job with a short lifespan can lead to greater things in your career later. "I just would emphasize that you need to do your homework and get the full picture on these opportunities, not be blinded by the shiny new salary they are throwing out."
To help keep this write-up succinct and relevant, we will only be displaying a few of the questions and answers here. Most of the rest were answered via the above overviews provided by our panelists.
Where should a 'day 0' job seeker go to ramp up and learn in order to get a Salesforce Marketing Cloud position in this market?
Honestly, that really would depend on what type of role in SFMC you are looking for. If you are looking for a more technical or developer type route, you should likely look towards Salesforce Stack Exchange along with the technical blogs out there like MateuszDabrowski.pl, ampscript.xyz, sfmarketing.cloud and gortonington.com. These combined with utilizing Trailhead as an overview and the official docs will help get you there. To supplement this as well, you could look at the ampscript.guide and the wonderful new tool by Pato Sapir, MC Snippets - which lets you utilize AMPscript and SSJS without requiring you to have an SFMC instance. It is not all-encompassing and is still in Beta, but is a huge step in the right direction to help day 0'ers level up to day 1.
For those focused more on admin and strategy, you will likely need to dig into more over-arching resources focusing on things like integrations, ETL strategies, Digital Messaging and Journey optimization and efficiencies. There is no specific places that I can highly recommend for this as usually these come from a more general knowledge area and then get specialized via research on the specific cloud.
Also, joining communities such as HowToSFMC, EmailGeeks, Women of Email and others is a great way to get exposure to people that are not only already doing this day in and day out, but are excited to help and mentor people. These communities are probably one of the greatest accelerators for careers in Marketing Cloud.
Is it risky to join a company that has not much Marketing Cloud history? Or could this bring some advantages as well?
Oh very much risky - but as you alluded to in the question it also can bring some huge opportunities as well. Becoming a 'founding' member to a company's Marketing Cloud practice can sky-rocket your career and get you tons of great opportunities to grow and expand as the practice grows. The risk is though that maybe the practice will not do well or is not valuable enough to the company and they decide to just trash the whole thing and there is no longer ANY Marketing Cloud jobs there and your entire team is now jobless.
Or even worse, you could do all this effort to build things up and grow the team, and the company sees a more 'renowned' subject matter expert is on the market and they bring them over you. He then creates a ceiling for you and receives all the credit for the growth you made. Which can very easily stunt your career.
Long story short, joining a newly built practice is like joining a startup - there is really only two ways it is gonna go: really good or really bad. There are very few times it is anything in-between.
I just passed my email specialist exam and have limited hands-on experience through my training class, but I lack paid experience. What can I do to help my LinkedIn profile and resume stand out to help land my first Marketing Cloud job?
This is the main issue a lot of day 0'ers face. You get all the training and certifications, but the job market is usually looking for a minimum of 1 year practical experience. How can you get experience if no one will hire you without experience?
The recommended approach here is to look at volunteer work or start some free-lancing or contract work. Usually you will be paid pretty poorly and will be treated not so great while doing some pretty boring and monotonous work, but it is a great way to get that experience. While also showing your capability to work in a fast paced environment with constant need changes and requirements which will be very appealing to many hiring managers. That on top of the fact you would be a 'self starter' and show drive and passion as without those, you would never get work as a freelancer or contractor.
That as well as applying for more entry or junior level jobs and focusing your interview on not what you currently know, but how you are learning and your capability and drive to learn more and put in the extra efforts to meet and exceed expectations. In junior roles, the drive and willingness to learn and grow are greater factors in deciding who to make an offer to than the existing skillsets.
The major focus and take-away that can be gathered from these panelists and their comments is to not let the market take advantage of you and to be careful in what you are doing in your career, whether it is looking for a raise in your current position, or seeking a new job. The market is hot, which means it is ripe with opportunity, but it also means its volatile and can burn you and limit your career growth as well if you are not careful.
The major take-away points would be:
Do your research on the market and fair rates
Do your research on each opportunity that comes your way. This includes the company, the job, the culture and more.
Negotiate. What is presented is usually not the top offer - just negotiate with the understanding that the company is not made of money so it needs to be a give and take of sorts to find the fair value.
Sustainability should be the major focus for hiring managers - spending high budgets on new talent can easily burn your team and put you in a much worse spot in the future
Consider seniority and longevity in the current or new position as once things cool down, there will be a large pool of talent out there with very little jobs - meaning compensation will lower and expectations will increase due to supply and demand.
Thank you all for your participation in this Q&A panel and big thank you to the panelists that spoke during it. If anyone has further questions they want to ask, please feel free to join the HowToSFMC.com Slack Community where there are tons of Salesforce Marketing Cloud users of all levels that will be able to get you the answers you need!