Episode 6 – FAQs about your marketing, business development & comms career


There’s a funny and informative show on ABC TV called “You can’t ask that!” In this show, viewers anonymously ask questions  (typically personal or potentially embarrassing) that many of us wonder about but never want to ask.

We love this idea, because as recruiters, we are frequently asked questions from candidates about a range of career issues, which sometimes they find a bit awkward. So, to help you learn more about the recruitment process for careers in marketing, business development and communications, we’ve put together this podcast.

In this episode we answer FAQs including:

  • Why would I consider taking a contract role?
  • Why don’t recruiters include salaries on job ads?
  • How do I know if I’m a “Manager” or “Senior Manager”?
  • I’ve been asked to sign an exclusive deal with a recruiter, is this a good idea? (From a job seeker perspective.)
  • How do I condense my 20 plus years of experience into a CV?”

So, yes, you can ask us all of your career questions and we’ll do our very best to answer them. And you don’t have to wait until you’re applying for a job – get in touch with Nanik, Graham or Katie and we’ll be happy to help.

Further reading

Transcript – FAQs about your marketing, business development & comms career

Katie Rosser: [00:00:24]

So this is Seldon Rosser’s first podcast of frequently asked questions. Hi Graham.

Graham Seldon: [00:00:31]

Hi. How are you?

Katie Rosser: [00:00:32]

So I’m going to direct the first question to you, which is about contract roles. We’re working on a lot of contract roles at the moment. Often mat leave contracts in this industry, but not always. One question we often get asked is – contract roles – why would I consider one?

Graham Seldon: [00:00:51]

Well, I think the myth busting here is around contract roles being maintenance roles. Very few contract roles that we get now are just looking after a particular practice or particular desk. You tend to find with the competition in the market the way the market moves so fast that when somebody goes on maternity leave, for instance, for 12 months, they’re actually handing over quite proactive strategic desk and there are often very meaty projects in there. So, when I get asked by somebody who’s in a permanent role, why would I look at a contract? I would say, well, there are several reasons that you would consider it. If you’re actively looking anyway, but you’re struggling to find somewhere to go on another permanent contract, sometimes a contract can actually break the cycle. There are some people who’ve been in a role for 10, 15 years, sometimes longer in a firm, and they just want to experience something else. So a contract is a great way of sort of breaking the circuit, getting yourself into a different business. There’s also a chance of changing sector. So, you know, if you’ve been in a law firm for 10 years and you want to work at an engineering firm, sometimes a contract roll might be an opportunity for you to just go away and test that and see if it’s something that you want to do. And also, you’ve got to understand that if you’re doing that, the competition that you’re up against is obviously a lot less. Because when you go to market for a permanent role, there’s always a healthy number of people who are interested in the opportunity. When you go to market for a contract role, the talent pool is less so. One great thing about that is that you’re limiting the amount of people that you’re up against.

Katie Rosser: [00:02:22]

So it could be quite a strategic career choice really to get an opportunity that you might not get otherwise.

Graham Seldon: [00:02:27]

Yeah. I mean, I think people worry that if they take a contract that in twelve months time they’re going to be back on the market and the job market might have changed and they may not be anything around for them. And obviously that is a risk. We have to be upfront about that as a risk. But generally in this industry and particularly you’re joining a large business. If you’re joining a large business and the role is up because it’s maternity leave, for instance, you can pretty much guarantee that if that business is 12 months into that contract, that’s probably going to be another opportunity to hang around and stay and do something. And we see a lot of people converting from contracts to perm.

Katie Rosser: [00:03:01]

And I think that the firms are very upfront about that when they brief. So if you’re working with a smaller business or a really discreet role and that individual’s definitely coming back and it’s highly unlikely to convert into permanent, I find that clients take great pains to make people aware of that. But where there is a bigger team and there’s a chance. Often it converts that open you to, you know, go down to the competitor down the road when you’re performing well.

Graham Seldon: [00:03:28]

Also, there is this myth that contract roles are only to replace people who’ve gone on maternity leave. But sometimes the role is a contract because it’s a project. So an example of that would be we had a client last year who tried to brief us on a permanent role, which was a brand transformation role that, you know, they wanted to do a rebrand and all the rest of it. They wanted the specific skills, somebody who’s done major rebrands before. My question to them was, but what happens when the rebrand has been done? Then what are they going to do? Wouldn’t you be better off doing this as a sort of 12 month, 18 month contract? That’s how long a rebrand can take. And the client decided that’s a really a really good idea. And we were able to find somebody and that’s what they did. They went from one business to another doing doing brand contracts.

Katie Rosser: [00:04:11]

And one question I get as a follow up from people is what would it look like to a future employer? Is it going to reflect negatively on my CV if I’ve left a permanent role and gone to a contract?

Graham Seldon: [00:04:27]

I don’t think so. I mean, I’ve never had that pushback from a client. I think it generally demonstrates that you’ve got an interest in developing your skills in your career. You have to leave a permanent job to go to a contract, to join a different sector, do a different thing. It’s actually refreshing.

Katie Rosser: [00:04:43]

And sometimes when we put people forward to contracts, it bodes well and is well received if they’ve completed a contract previously, because you’ve got experience of getting in there, making the relationships work quickly, adding value quickly, because that’s what you need to do in a contract. I would say, you know, in this Asia-Pac market, it’s not like London. It wouldn’t be deemed usual to do 10 years of contracting, but as long as there’s balance and there’s permanent roles mixed in with the contracts. I think it can be a really nice, well-balanced career.

Graham Seldon: [00:05:17]

Yeah. And so I think we’re both agreeing that if you see as advertised a contract role, you shouldn’t just close the door and think, oh, it’s not for me. Pick up the phone and call us. We’ll tell you whether or not we think there’s a risk attached or whether we think it’s a good thing we should be doing.

Katie Rosser: [00:05:30]

Absolutely. And so the second question that we had, Graham, was when you advertise jobs, why don’t you advertise the salary?

Graham Seldon: [00:05:40]

Oh, I get asked question so many times. And actually, I replied to a Linked-In comment on this a few weeks ago about somebody complaining that recruiters don’t advertise salaries on jobs. The reason that we don’t is often the client genuinely doesn’t know what salary they are going to pay. And that might be because they’re benchmarking the candidates in the market, it might be that the job is across two levels if it’s a newly created role that they’re trying to work out, whether they get somebody at junior level or whether they bring somebody in that more managerial level. It could be that their role is across different locations and therefore the salary bands are different. There are so many reasons why clients don’t want you to put a salary attached to it because they’re in an opportunistic market that they want to make sure they get the best talent. And the other thing is, is that we often place people on four day weeks. So the budget changes, you know, the budget for a five day person at manager level could be the same as a senior manager on four days a week. So there are so many different nuances to why it’s not a black and white thing or this is the pay grade. I mean.

Graham Seldon: [00:06:45]

Now, another question that we get asked quite a lot is what do I need to do to move from us from a manager to a senior manager position?

Katie Rosser: [00:06:55]

This comes up an awful lot. And I and I hear a lot of frustration when people bring this question to us sometimes, because the perception from people working in teams is to look around and go, well, that person over there is managing one practice group and they’re called executive or manager or senior manager. I’m over here managing one practice group of a similar size over a similar geography and I’m called a different job title. So the problem that people bring to me is ‘well I’m doing the same job. So why do I not have the same pay grade and same job title?’ And actually, when I give people the answer about the nuances of their job, they’re doing, the purpose of the job, the patch, the practice, the geography makes no difference. It’s actually the level at which you are advising and working with those partners. Most firms are quite transparent now with their matrix that they show employees. You need to achieve a you need to achieve C to be able to step up and levels. But there’s so much subjectivity around that and there has to be.

Katie Rosser: [00:08:01]

But what I hear time and time again from from clients is a senior manager is usually got team management experience. They’re usually in the most sophisticated and certainly international businesses experienced in the client facing world. They’ve usually got some sector strategy experience and it’s all about the level of advice and the level of engagement with partners. So it would be the difference between executing on ideas partners could have had without you to bringing commercial ideas to the table, but for you, the partners would not have seen. And it’s also being able to operate with those that are senior partners to problem solve. And a senior manager, as a client said to us this morning actually, is someone that they will send in to a very difficult, quite cross partner, to solve a problem. And the managers and below will be protected from those situations.

Katie Rosser: [00:09:04]

I sometimes say, be careful what you wish for. Be careful for moving up the ladder too quick because you can be the same person that that partner worked with last week with a new job title and a new salary figure, you know, on your head, (I was going to say it sounds a bit dramatic) and that partner’s expectation of the way they can behave around you and the demands that they can make of you and their expectations of you have just gone up tenfold. And so you need to be ready for that. So sometimes if you feel like your business is sort of keeping you down and making sure you get there, it’s making sure you’re ready.

Graham Seldon: [00:09:39]

I also think it goes to the podcast we did last time on job titles that you can’t compare one senior manager job with one business to another. We don’t work in this environment where every single professional services firm has exactly the same career structure. So, you know, if you if what you’re actually saying is I feel like I’ve earned my stripes to be a senior manager because I’ve got I’ve now got 10 years experience. Well, you’ve only really any stripes if of all the things you’ve just said that you can walk into a room and you can influence and you can manage teams and all the rest of it. So there are people who are managers and they’re always managers and they enjoy being managers. And that is it is what it says it is on the can. And that’s all they that’s all they want to sign up for. There are others who are ambitious and they want to take it to the next level. And that’s absolutely fine.

Katie Rosser: [00:10:25]

Dare I say, have different ambitions.

Graham Seldon: [00:10:27]

They have different ambitions. But, you know, we can’t answer the question in your own business as to what makes a senior manager. Only your manager and H.R. can answer that question.

Katie Rosser: [00:10:37]

And I think therefore, it’s about having an open dialogue and trusting your managers and your business and asking for that transparent matrix to understand why you have to do next to keep growing.

Graham Seldon: [00:10:48]

Now, I’ve got an interesting one. I got asked a question last week by a candidate who had been told by another recruitment firm that they had to sign an exclusive deal with them for representation for a period of weeks, which prevented them from speaking to us. And we had a chat about this, didn’t we? And we thought we may as well talk about that, because my answer was, what a load of baloney! Why on earth would you feel the need to sign with one agent? And also, why would an agent think that they could absolutely just, you know, only for that period of time? I thought it was extraordinary.

Katie Rosser: [00:11:24]

So did I. We were both a bit, dare I say, gobsmacked by this. But it’s worth talking about having the conversation because lo and behold, a couple of days later, somebody else asked. Look, firstly, the reason that I would not recommend it is quite regularly a particular business will engage a particular recruiter or search agency on an exclusive basis. And so it’s quite usual for Seldon Rosser to have 20 percent of the roles were working on at any one given time to be exclusive to us. And I’m certain that other agents get things exclusive as well that we wouldn’t get. So a reason that I would never get somebody to sign up with Seldon Rosser exclusively and in a way that was preventative would be I wouldn’t want to close them off from an ability to apply for something that another recruiter was managing exclusively.

Katie Rosser: [00:12:19]

I think where it is valuable is if we’ve been working with people proactively, they might have moved to a new location. They might not have a job right now. And it might be that you say to somebody, okay, for a week, give me a week before you talk to anybody else, because I want to do a proactive strategy. I want to approach these 15 businesses that we’ve agreed in a targeted way on your behalf. And it’s better to work with one agent as it gets complicated. But I think that’s very different from signing up to a document. And if that has happened to anybody who’s listening, I would go so far as to say I wouldn’t really worry that that’s worth the paper it’s written on. That sounds a bit strong. But I mean, what is that agent going to do, sue you for getting a job through another recruiter? I mean, no one would work with them ever again. I should reference with no idea who this is other recruitment agency is!

Graham Seldon: [00:13:11]

I just find it bizarre that that as a recruiter, you would even feel that you had the right to ask  that of someone. I mean, it’s their career. So, you know, the whole thing about that is that they are looking for another opportunity and no one agency owns every opportunity. So I think, you know, we’ve we’ve pretty much covered it. The answer is, if you ever get asked that question, say no and come and talk to us.

Katie Rosser: [00:13:38]

So Graham, the last question we are going to cover in this episode of F.A.Qs was about CVs. What does somebody do if they’ve got 25 years of experience and they’re just trying to articulate it on four pages or less? How do they get across everything that they have achieved and that they can offer?

Graham Seldon: [00:14:01]

Well, they answer is they don’t need to. I always say to people, we don’t need War and Peace. We don’t need proof. We’ve talked about this before on CVs. Well, we don’t need proof. We don’t need to see every single job we’ve had over the last 25 years. What we need to be able to see is what have you accomplished over that time? What were you doing recently that that makes you a good candidate for that particular opportunity that we’re working for? And what’s your story? I mean, I think that when you’ve done 20, 25 years experience, like myself, you have the right to tell your story. I quite like a profile at the front that basically just says, look, I’ve got 25 years experience, of which course a variety of industries, of which the variety of different types of businesses, sometimes in different countries. And I specialize in, you know, business development strategy or marketing communications or whatever it is that you want to hang your hat on. And then the rest is really just about key achievements that you’ve had in the different businesses you’ve worked for. We really only need to go back five years in terms of the detail of some of the projects that you’ve worked on. And I think before that can be covered off in one line, which goes, you know, previous to this, I worked in, you know, different organizations over 10 years, blah, blah, blah to discuss the interview. But nobody is going to not call you in because they couldn’t work out what you did in 1985.

Katie Rosser: [00:15:14]

And on the flip side, what you actually don’t want to senders is a 10 page document whereby every time you’ve had a new role, you’ve just added a new section at the top. That’s an absolute no, no.

Graham Seldon: [00:15:24]

I hate that and I get that often. You know, you can tell that this CV has been on their hard drive for a decade and they literally add in every contract. Or they add in every course they’ve ever been. Why do I need to know that you’ve got a first aid course from 1964? It’s not that important.

Katie Rosser: [00:15:41]

If you’re a BD person, put your pitching brain on. This is your proposal to a client. Every single word needs to be there for a reason. If you’re a comms/marketing/brand person for your storytelling hat on.

Graham Seldon: [00:15:54]

Absolutely. It’s that straight forward.

Katie Rosser: [00:15:55]

I hope you’ve enjoyed the FAQ podcast today. We will be doing another one down the track, so if you’ve got questions you want answered, drop us a note.

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