Rachel, why are upstarts getting promoted?
The writer complains less experienced people are getting top jobs
July 20, 2012
I am noticing a severe drop in media salaries for experienced media professionals as a whole. There is no shortage of people with four to six years of experience who are willing to accept salaries that are significantly lower than a very experienced person for the shot at a senior position. And agencies are more than happy to gamble on giving them that shot if it means saving money. Is this the future of our industry? — Sign me Feeling Burned
Yes and no.
Yes, with the rise of digital, which continues to bring on waves of change, there's huge demand for people with certain skills, and many are being pushed up the ladder to manager positions with only a few years in the business, as you observe.
Agency bosses know they can pay them less than a person with more years and a more well-rounded career path. So it's no surprise that they take advantage of the opportunity.
Is it fair? No, certainly not compared to the way things used to be. But then again life often isn't fair.
Yet, all that said, those cases are still the exceptions. For every whiz kid who rockets up the ladder there are far more media people who rise based on their experience, talent, maturity and well-roundedness.
To be a senior media person requires a lot more than a portfolio of buzzwords and a mastery of the latest New Big Thing. It calls for the ability to manage others and to move projects to completion. It calls for making sound judgments, one after the other, day in and day out.
Those skills typically only emerge after years in the workplace. And in the end smart managers appreciate those abilities and will invariably value them over hot skill sets.
Too often they've see the disasters that can occur when the wrong person is promoted.
What is different today is that it is no longer enough to have those abilities, expecting the promotions to come to you. The path upward is no longer a clear lighted way.
It's up to you to provide the light. By that I mean being able to present yourself on every possible occasion as the ideal candidate for the next management opening. Volunteer to honcho projects. Come up with new ways of doing things. Articulate a vision.
Make clear to your supervisors what your career goals are and how you intend to achieve them. Work with your supervisors to create that path together.
That doesn't mean sucking up. It does mean being very clear about who you are and what you want.
Here's my last thought.
Keep an open mind about moving on, either to a new job within media or in an entirely new field. If you feel the wrong people are being promoted where you are, maybe you are in the wrong place.
Life changes, agencies change, managers change. We all change. It's important to accept change and respond to it, even if it means uprooting yourself and risking a move into a less certain world.
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