WTF is Direct Marketing, & Other Things I Learned On My Job Interview

Looking for a job is not an easy task, especially when you haven’t worked in almost a month and your savings is slowly getting depleted due to first and last month’s rent, a couch, and other deposits and things you have to buy when you move to a new city. You want to get a job soon, but not every job is suited for you. I learned pretty quickly about all of this when I went to a “business professional” job interview this week.

I put on my best $99 dark grey Target pants and jacket, paired them with a fitted shirt from Express and a tie that suggested “I’m the right man for this job. ” I figured I’d play the part and go to the interview which was 20 miles south of Seattle and just explore all my options here. Truth is, I felt like a tool.  I love wearing suits, but usually when my wardrobe calls for a shirt, tie and jacket, it means I am going to a wedding or to some fancy event with free booze, not a job interview for a direct marketing firm in Tukwila. By the way, what the fuck is direct marketing?

A long time ago I went on a job interview on September 11th 2001. We all know what happened on that date in history, and my experience that afternoon other than watching a plane make a hard right into One World Trade Center was me driving around with some girl who was randomly stopping at businesses and people’s houses trying to sell paintings out of the back of her car. Wow. So much fun. I found that job on the “old school” Craigslist, which I like to call the want ads in the back of a newspaper.

I didn’t take that job because it was 100% commission based door to door sales. I may sell you drinks at a bar, but I know I’m not a door to door salesman and this job was a gimmick. A scam. A way to get people to work without paying them a salary and even though I’m sure some people are really good at those jobs, I work best in a place where people come to me, not the other way around.

Anyway, back to this week…. I get to the “office” if that’s what you can call it. It’s really a big empty space right off the freeway next door to “Smiley Face Dentistry” with a sign atop the roof that reads “For Lease.” They told me to look for that because I guess they just moved in, but wouldn’t you want to take down that sign by now?

I walk in the front door and there is nice young lady on the phone with a client, a few faux leather chairs and an office space with absolutely no one in it at all. I had my reservations right from the start. I can hear the secretary or “office administrator” on the phone in a heated discussion. She keeps apologizing, and I start to wonder exactly what is happening on the other end of the call, but really all I can think about is how I want to get this interview over with so I can go home and have a drink and eat dinner.

She has me fill out an application, and as I skim through it, I notice a box that reads “Would you be willing to take a drug test.” I immediately check yes, but not because I have nothing to hide, because I know that if I check “No” it probably reads as suspicious and shady and would impede me from being considered for the job. Truth is, I’d probably fail that test if they included marijuana, but the reality is that it’s legal in the state of Washington, and this whole process of moving has been just a little stressful so yeah, I’ve smoked a little pot to help me get through it. BFD.

I turn in my paper and smile at the other applicant sitting next to me, then the receptionist calls out

“Christian, the hiring manager is ready for you.”

I get up and head to the back office, shake the hand of the 2o something year old kid who is interviewing me, and we start the painless process of seeing if we would be a good fit. He says his name is Mike, but all I see on the walls are pictures of some other guy in a suit and a certificate that reads congratulations to “Dan Taylor”.

Mike is from New Jersey so we chat about the Phillies, Flyers, and Eagles, and then we start talking about what skills I have from the world of writing and bartending that I could bring to the world of direct marketing. In the middle of me talking about the Flyers’ lack of scoring and me bullshitting my way through this interview I think to myself “I really should have looked up direct marketing before I left for this interview.”

The next few minutes go well. I act like I think I could do the job, even though the description of said job is very vague as to what is required of me. He tells me that this is a preliminary interview and they will be calling later tonight to set up the second phase of the process. I shake his hand again, say goodbye to the “office assistant” or whatever PC term we use these days to not offend people in that position, and I head outside to my car.

I see a large asian man in a shirt and tie head inside the office after me. He has a strange and humbling look to him, and his hair is styled like a samurai, shaved on the sides,  and pulled up into a pony tail on the top of his head. I thought that was kind of odd. No offense to the Chinese, but what kind of people are they interviewing here?  On the drive home, the wheels start turning in my head as I start to weigh all the factors:

1. No experience necessary
2. Small empty office 20 miles south of the city
3. “Paid training”, but they wouldn’t talk about compensation during the interview
4. I found this lead on Craigslist.

Now, I’m not saying Craigslist is a bad place to look for a job. I’ve been sending out my resume to legitimate bars and restaurants and have gotten some good leads to go on, but as I contemplated taking an office job that I found on a website it started to make me think this was too good to be true. Besides, he asked me in the interview if I like to travel. Only idiots who are trying to upsell you a shitty job ask you in the interview if you “like to travel!” Who doesn’t fucking like to travel?

I see right through that now.

I get home from the interview, rip off my zoot suit and I do a little research on the company. They have a slick looking website, but I realize ANYBODY can make a website look like they know what they’re doing. (case in point, THIS blog)  Their slogan is kind of a joke. I mean it HAS to be:

People. Clients. Customers. We Just Win.

We just win? Win what? More clients, customers and people?!?!  Who wants to win that? This is the most awful sounding contest I’ve ever heard of, but oh wait, it’s not a carnival game, it’s your company’s mission statement. It goes on….

“We are going to be the best sales and marketing firm by “wowing” our Fortune 100 clients with our unparalleled dedication to integrity and providing them with the highest quality results.”

First off, I’ve never heard of Fortune 100 clients before, and I can’t take you seriously when you use the word “wowing” AND put it in quotation marks IN your mission statement.

Their headquarters are in downtown Seattle, yet why did I interview in some lame ass office space 25 minutes south of the city?  I check the FAQ tab, and I find what I was looking for.

(taken directly from their website)
Q: What kind of marketing does RCG do?
A: Great question! Here at RCG we primarily engage in direct marketing. What is direct marketing? It is the selling of a product or service through direct, person-to-person contact.

I finally know what “direct marketing” is and it sounds like door to door sales to me, just like 15 years ago. Why couldn’t they just come out and say that?

I read some testimonials about how the “compensation” they provide is 4 hours of paid training, then the job is 100% commission based. Again, just like 15 years ago. I’ve been here before, and I know it’s not for me. Luckily, I think I caught this one early.

Less than an hour after the interview, I come back from the store to find two missed calls, a message, and an email from RCG telling me they want to discuss the results of my interview. I know what this means. They want me to come back for a second interview where I would imagine another dude in a suit 14 years younger than me will spend 30 to 45 minutes selling me the job, the experience, and go on about how being an associate at RCG means being part of a great “team.”

Yeah, part a great team that gets paid absolutely nothing. No thanks.

Just then I get a text. It’s them. They want me to call and in no way am I ever impressed when a company calls, emails and texts me within an hour about a job I don’t want. It reeks of desperation, like when a guy or girl you are dating doesn’t know how to take a hint. I wait about fifteen minutes then I respond:

“Thanks for the interview today, however I’m not interested in a commission based sales job. Have a great night!”

I think I did the right thing or as close to the right thing for me as possible. The facts just didn’t add up, and I’m too smart to have the wool pulled over my eyes. Yet, I wonder if I was too hasty in denying them a 2nd interview? Was I even right about the company, and if so, will I ever find out if I was? Thing is, I just can’t envision myself driving around in my car trying to sell people on shit I don’t even use, and maybe it’s back to the drawing board, but maybe that’s the best thing for me now. I’m ok with my decision, and then a few minutes later I get a text from RCG.

“Thanks for your input.”

I was right. I knew it. Even though I had no idea what it was, I knew I was never a fan of direct marketing to begin with.  Back to the job search I go….


4 thoughts on “WTF is Direct Marketing, & Other Things I Learned On My Job Interview

  1. As you said, it’s a way to trick people to buy what you sell. And if you don’t want to trick people I think it is OK. Also they wanted to trick you, right? No sales, no money. But what about your effort?
    I hope you will find a job soon 🙂


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