What Are Your Career Factors?

Your Career Strategy needs to start with you and the things that are most important to you in your career as you try to achieve SuRF.

Many professionals, regardless of level, make the mistake of assuming that their only choice is between two factors - money and passion.

They say something like, “I can either make money doing something I don’t love, or I can do something I love and not make money. Which do I prioritize?”

First, some good news: this is actually a false choice. It’s not a binary Money-or-Passion decision.

It’s actually a prioritization of 6 Career Factors that the marketing professional needs to reflect upon as part of their Career Strategy:

  1. Balance

  2. Challenge

  3. Company

  4. Location

  5. Salary

  6. Title

And what’s more, the six factors change over the course of the marketing professional’s career.

By this, we mean that many Marketing Students believe that their passion is more important than their paycheck, and that their employer should inspire them. They say, “I’m not going to toil away in some cube farm doing something I don’t love with the fire of a thousand suns!”

This feeling of needing to love the company they work for and the challenge of their work is certainly justified, after spending 15-16 years listening to professors in classrooms.

And this prioritization of Challenge and Company become even more pronounced over the last decade due to mindset shifts from Gen Y to Gen Z, a cohort who identify even more than their older counterparts about passion-points like social justice, corporate responsibility, sustainability, and the triple-bottom-line.

Then, things change...

Many times, though, after the Student becomes a Marketing Associate, the reality of living expenses, reduced savings, and those crushing student loans take their psychological toll. The Marketing Associate realizes that they need to increase their income significantly, and quickly.

It’s not uncommon for the new Marketing Associate to jump from one company to another and increase their salary by 30-50% overnight. Money and Title becomes the driving career factors.

As a result of this trend of Marketing Associates jumping ship after 12-24 months, we’ve heard many Marketing Managers and Executives bemoan “those millennials,” (usually, they really are referring to Gen Z), “and their lack of company loyalty.” This ‘mercenary mindset,’ as we’ve heard it referred to, is actually the result of those enormous student loan debts, the privatization of 401ks, and the vanishing of company pension plans.

Can we really blame the new Marketing Associate for recognizing the reality of their financial situation and acting in their best interest, rather than the company’s?

And again, life changes...

The Marketing Associate becomes a Marketing Manager, either due to a promotion from within, or by jumping to another company (there’s that ‘mercenary mindset’ again). By this point, after their first salary jump, they may have seen their income increase by 3-5% each year for the past 3-5 years.

It’s possible that this career ascension comes with a physical move between cities, states, or even countries. The Marketing Manager is being asked to do much more personally and professionally.

They’re being expected to step up to the plate and take responsibility for growing other professionals’ careers...very commonly, the careers of the Marketing Associates who were their peers only yesterday. They also may be taking on more responsibility at home, which might include a marriage and starting a family.

These two shifts, again, cause the marketing professional to re-prioritize their Career Factors. Do they want to be part of a company that treats its employees right? A company where there is a strong work-life balance? A company that’s located closer to extended family?

This is where the Career Factors of Balance and Location become higher priorities for the Marketing Manager.

Over the course of the next 5-15 years, the Marketing Manager may weave in and out of different roles, companies, and industries. They may switch tracks from Marketing Agency to Brand/Client-side, from Start-Up to Marketing Agency, or another of the 9 Career Path Transitions.

For many, the Marketing Manager role is comfortable. This is because they’ve found a company that perfectly aligns with their current Career Factors, and their life changes have slowed down. They’re SuRFing.

But for others...

For other marketing professionals, though, the Career Climb continues. Those dedicated to the climb will continue into the Executive level of their career.

At this stage, the Career Factors might get shuffled in any number of ways, depending on what’s going on in the marketing professional’s life.

Many times, Money and Title reemerge at the top of the Career Factors, but not necessarily. The Marketing Executive may also be making a Career Path transition due to one of the other four Career Factors, like Challenge or Location, and find themselves at a smaller company with bigger responsibility, or at a bigger company across the country.

What’s important, though, is that the Marketing Executive stay true to this latest iteration of their Career Factors and make decisions for the right reasons.

There are many different titles at the Marketing Executive level, from Group Lead to Director, VP, all the way up to CxO. And the Marketing Executive will likely hold several of these titles over the rest of their career.

But at some point, the Marketing Executive will again find a role and company that perfectly aligns with their new Career Factors, and then they’re SuRFing once again.

After ranking the 6 Career Factors, regardless of level, the marketing professional only has one-third of a Career Strategy complete - what is most important to them and why. The next step is to visualize the Career Profile...