Who is this article for?
This article is for University students, recent graduates, and anyone looking to begin a new career in an exciting and growing industry, with the potential to earn good money further down the line.
Intro – Why we need to break the job market down by categories
Choosing an industry to work in can be a tough decision. There’s a lot to pick from and the choice can be overwhelming. Sometimes people choose strategically, other times people fall into jobs out of convenience. Very often the salary available plays a huge role in the decision. And rightly so, who doesn’t want and need a good income? In this article I’m going to put forward a strategy that will help you when it comes to making your career choice. Specifically we’re going to break up the job market into different categories, and briefly analyse each one. Why will this benefit you? Following this line of thinking will help you maximise your employability and income.
Category 1 – Low Leverage
We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up. Firstly lets introduce a term called leverage. In the context of this article leverage refers to:
The ability to control the environment you work in
There are jobs where you have very little leverage over your pay grade and work conditions. This includes shelf stackers, cleaners or call centre workers. These are relatively unskilled jobs where the pay scale is somewhat flat. It’s difficult for these workers to gain pay rises as there isn’t a huge difference between, say, an entry level cleaner and a high level cleaner. Generally the only path available for career progression is from entry level to supervisor to team manager. Lets list a number of roles that can be included in this category:
- Shop assistants
- Waiters, waitresses and bar staff
- Call centre staff, first line support or customer support
- Admin staff (such as receptionists and secretaries)
- Shelf stackers and warehouse staff
- Labourers, gardeners
- Gym and swimming pool attendants
- School support staff (non-niche such as catering staff or lunchtime supervisors)
- Factory workers
Of course there will be exceptions in all these examples, so I appreciate for the brevity of this article I’m over generalising. The valid time to accept these roles is with short duration in mind. Perhaps you’re looking for a couple months work before you go on holiday or begin a course. However for anyone with real career aspirations (that’s you), they should be avoided.
Category 2 – Performance Based Roles
Next we’re going to discuss sales roles. These roles are primarily performance based and can of course be high earners. It’s possible to sell double glazing and make good money. However what’s interesting about this category is that the rise to the top is relatively quick before the income scale plateau’s. In addition the variability in the role is narrow. It would be wrong to say it’s an unskilled role, selling is of course an incredibly desirable and necessary skill for businesses. The interesting aspect is the human interaction and manipulation. Sales roles are best suited to people who desire ‘good’ money quickly and don’t have/desire other specialist skills. In terms of long term game planning it’s not a smart move due to the likelihood of burnout in a sales role. Indicative of this is the typical high turnover of sales staff.
Category 3 – Traditional Professionals
These are roles such as doctors, lawyers, architects and engineers. Generally the barrier to entry with these is certification. You can’t become a lawyer, for example, without passing certain exams. And because of this the professions become gated communities, with high demand and low supply keeping wages buoyant. They are great roles for those with the interest and foresight to begin the career path in time. However for many of us who didn’t aspire to these roles early in life the time and money requirement for retraining puts them out of reach.
Category 4 – Middle to Upper Level Management
Management roles are similar to sales roles in that they’re largely performance based. They are high leverage roles that allow a relatively high level of autonomy, and are likely to be accompanied by good pay. Once in a management role for a considerable amount of time it puts the onus on staying in this type of role for the future. This is because whatever skills you possessed prior will take a back seat as you focus on the skills required for the particular type of management. Your prior skill set may atrophy and become dated. However once at the higher levels of management people tend to stay there. It’s normal for large companies to headhunt managers with a proven track record, and there’s a lot of recycling of managers. These are certainly career roles to aspire to in your chosen industry. However Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Category 5 – Specialists
Now we come to the category we’ve been waiting for. Specialists are people who offer skills that are localised to a particular niche and are in demand. Of course you could be a specialist in sunbathing, but it’s unlikely that the demand for such a niche is going to be high. It’s common for businesses to like generalists. They can save the company money by traversing multiple roles, and they are replaceable as the role they perform can usually be done by others. Where the specialist has the upper hand is that they’re in demand and hard to replace.
Coming back to leverage – why does a PPC role have leverage?
The way that PPC works, and it’s in the name, is that you only pay when a person clicks on your particular ad. This is very different to a lot of traditional types of advertising where the effect is hard to measure. Using this in combination with website analytics you can generally work out the value that the advertising is bringing in. With eCommerce clients calculating the ROI is pretty straightforward. With sites that don’t sell directly online (and there are still quite a few you might have to phone up to order from) it can be more difficult to work out the ROI. However it’s not impossible. And because of this, it makes it possible to measure the value that you’re adding. This value is your leverage. It’s then up to you what you do with it!
Why is specialising in PPC Search a good decision?
– It doesn’t require a degree or specific qualification.
– It’s a skill set that’s in demand (growing market).
– It’s very easy to measure performance, as such your value can be clearly exhibited.
– While the starting salary is typically around £18-25k. The on the job experience and training greatly increases your employment value. It’s not unreasonable to push your potential salary up by £10,000 in the first 6-9 months. At £30-40k per annum you’re starting to receive a reasonable salary.
– It opens the door to further roles in digital marketing. Advertising has always been a big budget market, and as the market becomes primarily digital you position yourself to be in the right place at the right time.
– Digital marketing has a relaxed culture in comparison to the city jobs such as banking.
– It’s not strictly tied to the office environment, there’s scope to work from home.
– It’s still a relatively young industry. The current experts with ‘years of experience’ aren’t that much more advanced than you are. The reason for this is the platforms are constantly changing and being updated. Therefore you have a real opportunity to quickly become an expert in the field.
Aren’t there lots of other types of jobs that come with a very similar set of benefits?
Yes. There are lots of roles in digital and other fields that have a similar benefits column. However many of these have a pre-requisite of skills in order to enter the market. For example web development requires a strong background knowledge.
Additionally what I do think is of value, whether PPC is right for you or not, is the above approach of job categorisation. If you can recognise what kind of role interests you, and it’s various strengths and weaknesses, it puts you in the driving seat going forward. I believe it’s important that everyone has a career strategy. It doesn’t have to be a 10 year plan, but just looking at the next couple of years can be beneficial enough.