3 Red Flags to Look for When Applying to Marketing Agency Jobs

Job interviews are about finding the right fit for both the employee and employer, but some marketing agencies forget that. Here are three tips for applicants to make the most of the process.

At the height of the Great Resignation, or “the Great Renegotiation,” data from the co-founder of Humanity Works showed that companies were experiencing an employee turnover rate as high as 30%. As Gen Z would say, “big yikes.” But in marketing and advertising, the yikes get even bigger. Historically, our industry has a higher turnover rate than related industries. There are a lot of reasons why, but that’s a story for another day.  

Today’s story is about the marketers who are on the hunt for their next position. The high agency turnover rate means lots of marketers are submitting applications at higher rates than their peers. That also means that there’s plenty of talent out there! So, surely marketing and advertising agencies are doing everything they can to support them in their search. Right?

[insert the awkward look monkey puppet meme here]

When you conduct a Google search for marketing job red flags, you’ll see articles about applicant red flags to protect the agencies but (spoiler alert) there aren’t many about agency red flags that protect the applicant. As an agency that truly cares about its team and about attracting the right talent, we think that’s bullshit. Thus, I want to share three tips on how to find the right agency.

What to Watch for in Marketing Interviews 

If you are a marketer preparing for an interview, get comfortable with asking the agency or company some probing questions. As cliché as it is, an interview is a date; both sides are trying to decide if it’s the right fit. Tailor your questions to mitigate getting stuck with these red flags:

1. They confuse marketing and sales.

Let’s go back to the Google search conversation. Even when you search “marketing red flags,” many of the top results are about sales. Marketing. Is. Not. Sales. They’re intertwined, but they are separate functions. If the interviewer asks you about your sales experience, confuses the two concepts or tells you that you will have business development responsibilities, dig into those a little more. Or, you know, run.

Tip: Be direct. Ask the interviewer how they define the two terms, or ask how much of the job is marketing versus sales.

2. They don’t walk their own talk.

As someone who’s worked in multiple agencies, I know firsthand how hard it is to focus on yourself. Clients come first. However, if the marketing agency has a shit website or a sad, sad social media presence, it could mean one of two things: (1) they do not understand the value of what they provide their own clients or (2) their team is stretched too thin to focus on their own channels. Either way, you should Nancy Drew the situation and investigate.

Tip: Sign up for the marketing agency’s email list and follow them on social media.

3. They don’t know their business or brand.

Branding is a critical building block in marketing, so if the agency does not seem to know their own voice, that’s sus. I recommend combing through their digital presence to get a sense of who they are. If it’s not clear, ask the interviewer about their style, their voice and their brand book. Another crucial part of any brand is how they conduct business. I always suggest you ask about the agency’s QSP business model. (The premise is similar to the “college triangle,” which posits you can have good grades, enough sleep or a healthy social life, but not all three. The QSP model posits a business can deliver great quality, great service or great prices.) Companies who don’t know what they are or say that they excel at all three are probably not to be trusted. 

Tip: Do your own research prior to the interview to determine where you believe the company lies in the QSP model.

Why You Should Work at EMB

Let me be clear: no company is perfect. Not even Elevate My Brand is perfect. In fact, part of our ethos is taking the ego out of marketing. We recognize that we can always grow, and we find that exciting. In other words, a less-than-satisfactory answer to any of the interview questions above probably shouldn’t be an immediate disqualification. Think of them as guides to making the right decision. 

We can, however, answer these questions with ease: we are steadfast in our defense against conflating marketing and sales; we walk our own talk as much as an economically challenged, pandemic-laden world allows; and we know our voice and our value very well. If that sounds like a marketing agency that you could call home, give us a call. We’re always looking to elevate our team! (See what I did there? #Branding)

Cody H. Owens, Content Director
Elevate My Brand

Back to List

This website stores cookies on your computer. These cookies are used to collect information about how you interact with our website and allow us to remember you. We use this information in order to improve and customize your browsing experience and for analytics and metrics about our visitors both on the website and other media. To find out more about the cookies we use, see our Privacy Policy.