Money, status or growth: how to decide on a career path?

This is already my third year working at Gazprom Media, one of the biggest media holdings in Russia and Eastern Europe. Here, I am responsible for digital assets and digital strategy in general. Prior to that, I worked for five years at Groupon where I led the Russian and Ukraine division. For the past seven years I’ve conducted more than a thousand interviews with potential job applicants, from interns to general managers. I hope that my experience will help give you new opportunities for your own development and understand more about the current trends in the labour market, as well as provide a more effective approach to implementing your goals and objectives.

You can think of your career as a triangle, the vertices of which are the factors determining your needs: money, status, and growth. A small percentage of people choose only one factor, for example, only money, and don’t aspire for status or growth. Most people are somewhere in the middle.

Of course, if a person has no money to meet their basic needs, it is unlikely that he will be thinking about status. But, then, what would influence a person for whom money is not an issue? A wealthy family, a grant, passive income, a previous career. Because it won’t be so important whether they get 50 or 60 thousand a month.

What determines status? Your job title, and the employer’s brand name. At the beginning of your career you have a choice: to accept a starting position in a well-known company or get an important position in a smaller company.

What do we mean by “growth”? Many large companies are getting interns and every six months people’s tasks change, and sometimes you are given a chance to try working in a new position. Since right after finishing university, no one really knows what they want to do.

At 24 years old, I was barely educated. I sent my resume to companies from absolutely different fields. I hadn’t decided in what area I wanted to develop. I had lots of interests, which constantly changed over time. In each of our lives, we are constantly going through changes, we have new interests that determine what we do and how we want to develop. That is why companies need to provide their employees with opportunities for personal development, not only within the office but also in other areas.

Where can you find the most opportunities for development today?

If you decide to work in a big company, like Microsoft, it is unlikely that on your first day you will be tasked with re-writing the code on a major product. Of course, in many startups that are growing, the range of opportunities for development grows. Because, usually everything is urgent and everyone needs help with everything. Thankfully, large companies also recognize the value of helping employees grow and approach this issue with utmost seriousness. Imagine such a scene: an HR Director comes to the CEO and requests the budget for employee training. The CEO asks him: "Hey, what if we now spend all this money on training employees and then they leave the company?" Then HR responds: "what if we don't spend it and they stay?". And this is quite a realistic illustration of the fact that large companies are aware of the significance of their losses based on the inefficiency of the staff in the future.

The new generation is more concerned with time and freedom. Of course, the bigger the company, the harder it is to take into account these trends. If you want to grow within a large company, you should, first of all discuss with your employers a possible program for growth and the areas in which you can potentially develop. Don’t forget about money: if it’s not a two-week internship, the employer must make an employment contract. A formal agreement takes your relationship with the company to an entirely different level.

Never say: "I have no experience"

When you gradually begin to move from growth towards greater financial expectations and status, you have to have specific skills and abilities. But never say that you have no experience. It's not true. If you ever did something for someone - it could be organizing an event at university or even an internet broadcast - it is a valuable experience.

What’s most interesting, is that frequent experience, which is valued more than you even realize, is one of the needs of your employer. For example, if you ever made a public online broadcast, you already know how to organize a channel, how to attract more than 10 people and to keep it up for longer than 10 minutes. From the marketing point of view, this is a very good case. Yes, you might smirk at this, but in large organizations, things that might seem really simple are actually really valuable.

Why is the traditional resume already outdated?

How do you imagine the beginning of a career in the classical sense? Of course, first you need to create a resume, where it will be written what University you graduated from, what courses you attended, whether you have a second degree, what internships or additional courses you have completed, what certifications or commendations you received, as well as the languages and skills you possess. Often, in your resume, there is also additional information — for example, participation in clubs, volunteering, sports. In the West, this section of the resume is very important, whereas in Russia, unfortunately, such experience is underestimated.

This resume format was relevant ten years ago. Today, things have changed and it’s your generation who has changed the situation. Why do you think that in Russia there are so many people who work for themselves, for example, stylists at the barbershop? A person who engages in such activities, can skip several traditional sections of the resume and self-manage their time and workload. For example, I recently used Uber; my driver was a stylishly dressed man who was about thirty years old. To the question: "what's your real job?" — he told me that before he worked in "Alfa-Bank", retired, now works for Uber, earns the same money, but he is in charge of his own time and, for him, that is more important than the status of his profession or employer. This case illustrates the perception of the work itself.

Employers are beginning to look not only at how you are positioning yourself. Does social media and big data analytics help them in this?

What awaits us in the future and is also already happening, for example, in the HR market in America? They do not use the CV in the traditional sense. Information is collected using big data analysis: the managers look at the potential employees, what are their interests, what social groups they belong to and so on. Thus, a profile of the candidate is formed, and the managers themselves determine what is important to them.

I believe that the standard situation at an interview, when the HR-Manager marks or crosses something out in your CV, will only continue for a maximum of five or ten years. Now think of something completely different: most companies check your social media profiles before you come in for an interview. And often your account describes you more eloquently than your CV. For example, you liked a video about protests. What does this say about you? Maybe nothing, but this tells your employer something about your character. This information already can’t be deleted, once you click, all of the information is available forever, cache remembers everything.

I am like a product: how do I control my privacy?

There is a closed space, this is your social media profile, which you can use to position yourself for the outside world. Why do instagram stars often look better than in real life? Because that’s where everyone creates their best image. And people are unlikely to show their flaws. Basically, you are all sales managers and you decide how you want to look for others.

You have to understand that your online snapshot shapes the opinion of people about you and you should take great care to how it comes together. Of course, there's obvious advice: don't like posts related to racism, violence against people, animals, and so on, but there are much deeper things. Often, companies track your browsing activity and review: what and how you write, do you make grammatical errors or swear. How often do you post pictures and what sort of pictures do you “like”? If at 3.30am on a weekday you comment on someone's post, it also says something about you.

How to build an image in a global space

Managing a global space is very difficult, but it’s still possible. The function of reputation management lies on the shoulders of PR-departments of companies. It is necessary to form a positive image in this space. And the determining factor in this case is the reaction to what you are doing. It is important to remember that the response will never be positive; you will always find people who want to criticize you. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is actually unsatisfied with something – they just might be in a bad mood, and thus give your app a one out of five stars.

Creating a brand: what tasks does marketing solve?

First lets agree on what “brand” means. Tinkoff, is that a brand? Your name, it’s just letters, but a brand is everything associated with it. When we are engaged in corporate or science communication, marketing, PR, we are creating these associations. We attach importance to the letters, and marketing is the main tool in this. There are several questions that a marketer should always keep in mind:

Who is my target audience today? If you think that you have several, choose the largest one and make it a priority.

What promotion tools do we have?

Where are your consumers? Where can you find them? Ten years ago, I’d look for consumers in magazines, newspapers and radio, but today I look for them in social networks and Telegram channels. And while earlier everything started with advertising, today it’s all about creating relationships, increasing trust, and then you can turn trust into a sale.

What should you take into account once you find your audience and have shaped your message? When establishing communication, it is necessary to understand whether you are solving human problems, improving possibilities or talking about new opportunities.

What kind of problems does PR solve?

You should keep the same questions in mind when you are creating a PR strategy. But first we should understand the difference between marketing and PR.

Marketing affects business in terms of sales and its value. Results in this case are always converted into financial indicators. PR, in turn, can not be analysed in terms of quantitative indicators and identify how it affected the company’s profit. It plays a different role. For example, when the BP oil platform explosion took place in the Gulf of Mexico and polluted the entire southern part of North American coast, the company had to immediately decide what should be the company’s reaction  to the death of millions of animals and an ecological disaster. This requires tactical PR, where new ways to build relationships with the public need to be used. For example, I must declare that I am changing the entire security system, I’m starting to build new infrastructure, building houses, factories, creating jobs and starting to do this right now. This is a very costly issue and must be solved quickly.

Similar functions within a company are usually performed by internal PR, who quickly solve several problems at once. First, you have to give each employee the opportunity to understand the company's values, for them to be proud of working in it and also know where the company is heading.

It is no coincidence that every week, the founders of Google hold a general meeting accessible to all, where they discuss new projects, current tasks and the general strategy of development and answer questions from employees. In fact, most large companies do the same thing. Internal PR should motivate people, to help and explain how you can fulfill your potential in the company.

What do they want from the company employees themselves? First and foremost, for everyone to be driven by a purpose that all want to achieve in a specified amount of time and know what steps need to be taken and how that helps the overall strategy. Internal PR is there in order to convey the needs for joint growth and development of the company both to the management and to the employees themselves.

Back to top