“This is just like television, only you can see much further.” Chauncey Gardner / Being There
When I started my job search that landed me at PPC Associates, I decided that I would consider only telecommuting work arrangements. My choice actually gave me a lot of freedom because every search marketing position open in the United States theoretically became a possible destination for me. After all, I had been telecommuting for nearly 5 years and had no interest in changing the lifestyle that I’ve grown accustomed to. My understanding was that many employers had become much more open to the idea of telecommuting, so I concocted a pretty simple job search strategy: Flood the search marketing job market with my resume and take the best opportunity afforded to me (which ultimately I did).
However, what was unfathomable to me is how many employers with genuine need for advanced search marketing skillsets would rather go without (and suffer the consequences) than consider a telecommuter.
I’m not talking about the people who I had reasonable discussions with and decided for whatever reason that I wasn’t the person for the job. Rather, I’m talking about the people who were super impressed with my resume yet were off the phone with me within seconds of my telling them I would only consider telecommuting. Some of the conversations were almost comical. The following was a near verbatim conversation of a woman who contacted me and scheduled a 30 minute phone interview with me. The entire call lasted 47 seconds (I timed it). After she introduced herself, she asked me:
“When were you planning to move to Minnesota?”
“I’m not planning to move to Minnesota…I’m looking for telecommuting work.”
“But the job is in Minnesota.”
“I’m willing to travel as necessary but I would only accept a work from home arrangement.”
“Thank you for your time.”
What the great majority of employment folks don’t realize is that senior search marketing folks can pick and choose the work arrangement that suits them best. They really don’t have to bend to an employer’s whims unless they see it advantageous to do so. There are plenty of search marketers who are cool with working in offices and if an employer can land a senior level person that’s willing to work thusly, more power to them.
But I know darned well that many employers are having a real tough time finding senior level folks and the reason I know this is because I’ve been talking to y’all. I chatted with many people even in places like New York and San Francisco where one would think plenty of senior level people would be available…and yet, they still couldn’t find someone able and willing to work for them at their office. For employers in smaller markets, they were likely SOL…that is unless they would consider telecommuters.
And yet, faced with the choice to add a “virtual” skill set that would generate a very positive ROI to the company, the company would rather go without. In my humble opinion, the great majority of employers are very inflexible to their detriment.
I never heard a really good reason why it is this way. Sure, I heard stuff about “corporate culture”, “face-to-face interaction” etc. However, there are so many virtual communication methodologies out there that effective cyberspace communication is frequently superior since the nature of the medium forces one to cut straight to the chase and filter out the extraneous noise.
One trait shared by all the successful senior search marketing people that I know is they possess very malleable minds. Search marketing is the ultimate Darwinian profession…without adaptation (and radical adaptation if necessary), you perish. Unfortunately, many of the people I talked to in our cutting edge industry were unfortunately every bit as conventional as their less technologically advanced brethren when it comes to hiring practices and such traits will ultimately hinder their business growth and the quantity / quality of their service offerings.
A while back, I wrote a post called Bellwether Brains about how a short seemingly innocuous Twitter exchange with my friend John Andrews illuminated tremendous insight into not just his thought processes but ultimately the quality of work product he is capable of producing. I absolutely believe that the inflexibility that many of the organizations I spoke with towards telecommuting are similar bellwether signals of the lack of innovativeness in their organizational thinking. At their core, many of these “cutting edge” companies are very conventional and pedestrian…not desirable traits for your search marketing vendor to have.
Thankfully, I now work for an organization that I see as being extremely innovative in many different ways…and I’m pretty sure many of the employers I talked to months ago are still trying to fill that open position or have settled for a lesser employee that is a better “fit” for them.