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Are you an entry-level marketing/public relations/communications job-seeker?
Have you ever come across a job posting ***like this***?
MARKETING SPECIALIST – ENTRY LEVEL – 75k
Marketing Maximum Results seeks an energetic, competitive, and sports-minded Marketing Specialist! Due to explosive growth, Marketing Maximum Results seeks to add new team members by the end of next week.
Marketing Maximum Results is a leading-edge marketing firm with a holistic approach. We provide our Fortune 500 clients with paramount solutions leading to impetuous growth of client services and products!
Our Marketing Specialist will utilize scientific and ratiocinative consumer research data to present interactive programs directly to clients to improve their business.
- 1-5 years of marketing experience is helpful, but not required. We will train the right candidate
- Bachelor’s Degree (not required but preferred)
- Willing to grow with us. All promotions are within, so we’re looking for rockstars that want to grow into management/bigger roles quickly!
We offer fun company-sponsored events, travel opportunities, uncapped commissions (first year average 75k), and an inclusive culture!
*We are looking to wrap up interviews by next week due to growth, so please apply today!
Keywords: marketing, medical, advertising, public relations, college, entry level, salami, pizza, integrated marketing, socks, shoes, bowling, fruit salad, sports, athlete, PR, English, writing, presentations, Chicago
You might think I’m kidding, but there are THOUSANDS of positions just like this one in the United States alone. They operate under different business names that constantly shut down and reopen, so it’s impossible to pinpoint the “exact” perpetrators.
Let’s first discuss what’s wrong about the job posting.
Two other “red flags”:
What the job really is:
So, you might be wondering – what are these jobs, really? Is it a “scam” to take my money or personal information? Is it just too good to be true?
Around two years ago, I decided to go on an interview because I was unemployed and I was curious and the reviews on Glassdoor were good (oh, yeah, the managers usually will go in and write countless numbers of positive reviews to counter the negative ones) and so why not. I had nothing to lose but my time and energy.
Here was my experience.
I applied online for a “public relations account coordinator” position.
A woman, claiming to be from human resources, called me immediately and asked if I’d be able to come in **this week** for an interview because their company’s growth was explosive and wow they just really needed to hire four people right away. So, I said why not.
I promptly received an email invitation which reminded me to dress in "business attire" for the interview. Well darn, even though the Juicy Couture sweatsuit is making a comeback I guess I'll actually have to wear nice slacks...
Two days later, I showed up at their office which was tucked away in a fancy office building in a ritzy neighborhood.
I asked the door guard if he knew where this company was because they weren’t listed on the directory. He said he had never heard of them. Red flag #1.
When I finally found the office (by looking in the signature of the email confirmation), it was shockingly sparse. There were no photos hanging up, there was zero in-office branding, even the managers with offices didn’t have a single family photo or crude drawing from a child hanging up. It was as if they were “squatters” crashing in this office. Without sounding *too* melodramatic, the office space vaguely reminded me of political buildings in North Korea, designed to look opulent from a distance. In reality, they serve only to “impress” tourists and their neighbors in the South. In reality, the buildings are empty, made cheaply, or only the fronts are ever constructed.
There were four others in the office waiting for interviews. Young, college grads who also appeared nervous. Just like me. The office phone continuously rang. Every phone call had to do with setting up an interview. No client calls. Nothing. Just, “We’ll see you at 10am tomorrow.” Or, “I can’t discuss details about the job with you, you’re going to have to come in for an interview.” I don’t even know what “red flag” I’m on by this point.
Finally I got called in for my interview with a tall and slim blonde woman. The conversation was very shallow, the interviewer seemed robotic and uninterested in anything I had to say. A real interviewer will ask thorough, follow-up questions. It sounded like she was reading through a script, just going through the “motions.” After a 10 minute conversation about my career goals and why I was interested in the position, she said, “I think you could potentially be a fit for what we’re looking for. We’d like for you to join Antoine for Part Two of our interview. Here is the address and Antoine’s phone number.” She pushed a piece of paper at me with an address, printed out from Google Maps.
“But, what is part two of the interview?” I asked.
“An interactive on-site interview.”
Image Source: Everyday Trails
I handed the piece of paper printed out from Google Maps to my Uber driver.
“Can you take me here?”
“Of course I can take you there….It’s my job. The question is, why on Earth would you want to go to this address?”
“I have a job interview.”
“A job interview? The address you handed me is for a Kroger in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.”
“A Kroger? As in, the grocery store? You must be mistaken. This is for an interview.”
“No, ma’aam. I’m not mistaken. Do you still want to go?”
At this point I should have probably opted out, but again, I was unemployed and now exceedingly curious.
When I walked in the store I instantly spotted Antoine. He was the only guy wearing a suit, casually browsing the bread aisle.
“Oh, hi, Kayla?” He turned towards me.
“No, it’s Holly.”
“Oh, okay, Holly, great. We’re waiting for another candidate as well.”
The other candidate never showed.
After a few moments, we headed into the back room. Of the Kroger. For an interview. Seated on uncomfortable folding chairs, Antoine was pushy and rude about my background. Further research into these types of companies indicates that this is the norm. They intentionally break you down so they can mold you and build you back up. Oh, you did five internships in college? I still don’t think you’re deserving of this position.
He explained the compensation structure which was purposefully confusing. He took out a pen and wrote a bunch of numbers and mathematical formulas totaling up to about $52,000, which is what he said I’d make in a year *IF* I sold X number of product and recruited X number of candidates to work below me. I later found out that these companies only offer commission, and most will only make the equivalent of $6-$7 an hour.
“But what is the job?” I pushed. “This was supposed to be an interview for a Public Relations Account Coordinator. I still don’t know the job duties.”
“Oh, don’t worry. At 10:15 I’ll show you. Now, I want you to take careful notes for me. I need five good reasons why our Fortune 500 clients continually come back to us. Hold on for one second.”
Antoine got up and grabbed a phone of the wall.
“ATTENTION KROGER SHOPPERS – DO YOU LIKE FREE STUFF? YES, THAT’S RIGHT. FREE STUFF! IN FIVE MINUTES, MEET ME BY THE MEAT CASES FOR A SPECIAL, NO-STRINGS-ATTACHED OFFER EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE FIRST 25 SHOPPERS THAT COME MEET ME BY THE MEAT CASES! See you in FIVE MINUTES!”
I nearly died.
“Come on,” said Antoine, “help me load this batch of product unto a cart.”
Seemingly enough, the rouse of “free stuff” was enticing to many shoppers. Within five minutes, Antoine had a small crowd surrounding his folding table.
Suddenly, he began to speak.
“Do any of you, standing here today, have aches and pains?”
“Yes, lord!” Wailed one woman.
“Do you know how to boil a pot of water?”
“Yes” “Of course” “Who doesn’t know how?” murmured the crowd.
“Then I have the PERFECT PRODUCT for you!”
Antoine passed around a series of “hot paks” designed to ease tired and sore muscles.
“If you go online to our website, this product currently retails for $120, but today only I’m offering Kroger shoppers this LIFE
CHANGING product for only $79.99!”
Two people bought the product. Oh, and by the way, apparently the “website” does almost 0 sales. In some cases, they don’t really even function properly. It’s just another tactic to get you to buy in-store.
Each shopper received a *FREE* keychain for listening to the demo.
I’m not sure how this company defined a “public relations account coordinator” but let me tell you – they're not accurate.
After the presentation, Antoine asked me to share my notes with him.
“To be honest, I’m a little disappointed,” he said while glancing at my paper, “I was really hoping you would have picked up on X, Y, and Z.”
Again. Breaking you down purposefully. You’re not *worthy* of this job. I’m doing you a *favor* by giving you this opportunity.
“I’d like you to write me an essay on why you want this job and why you deserve this job, and email it to me by 5pm tonight.”
I never did.
If you search “entry level marketing job scams” or “misleading entry-level marketing jobs” you’ll come across stories that are identical to mine. Nearly all of these companies run exactly the same. While they operate under countless names in nearly every city, most are subsidiaries of large outfits. Look up DSMax, Cydor, and Granton Marketing. Some “positions” are for in-store demos.
Others do door-to-door sales.
They might have “Fortune 500” clients, as you will likely be selling some products made by major outfits. Of course, they’re not contracting directly with companies like Major Maximum Marketing or Chicago Integrated Marketing Results. No, they’re contracting with major corporations like DSMax, Cydor, and Granton Marketing, which run their businesses through small, regional offices. In fact, if you do well enough at both a.) selling product and b.) recruiting enough people to work under you, you can open “your own” office. Of course, many times these fail which is why you’ll continually see these companies shutting down or starting up. I can’t believe this is legal and not considered an MLM Pyramid Scheme, but there’s some sort of loophole that allows this if everyone signs an agreement that they’re “independent contractors.”
So, there’s certainly the *possibility* to make some money. A job is still a job, so it’s not a “scam” in the traditional sense.
But why not advertise the job fairly? “In-store demo sales” or “Door-to-door salesperson” are more accurate “titles” for the position that’s being offered. Stop trying to prey on young, inexperienced college graduates with communications/marketing degrees. Advertise the position for what it is. People still need work. You’ll still get quality applicants.
And to the Fortune 500 companies and major sporting teams that do business with such outfits, please reconsider your decision to work with these scam artists.
Please share my post with recent graduates to warn them of deceptive and misleading job postings! Spreading awareness is the ONLY way we can stop this dishonest practice!
Worked for a similar company and have a story to share? Interviewed for one of these firms? Tell me your experience!
I just finished graduate school. Trying to find ways to spice up my Ramen. Love Disney, writing, froyo, Spanish, and hip-hop dance classes.