so why did i choose portent?

KermitFan asks in the comments on my last post:

“I think that it’s the Husky in me that asks, “why did the items that you listed above make a difference for YOU? That is to say: for one person, a small company would drive them crazy because they don’t necessarily get the opportunity to specialize in the skills/career that they want.

On the topic of culture, if I was in your audience, I’d be interested in how you defined culture and how you compared/contrasted the cultures of the companies that you talked to… what was the defining factor about Portent that won you over? Did you go with your gut instinct? Did you do extensive research? How did you land where you landed?

Just my $.02… even if I am a UW grad… :-)”

Darn good questions. Thanks, KermitFan.

So first, which of those 10 questions made a difference for me?

1. What kinds of jobs are available?– This is tricky, as the job I got was not available. I happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right connections.

2. What kind of experience is required?– this mattered a lot. Coming out of university with a degree and awards but no experience, there are very few ways to get started in the internet marketing industry. Besides doing it yourself. I did pitch one company before I was out of school on hiring me as a contractor to do internet marketing for them, and they said yes, but then did not get around to hiring me. Looking at the other companies in Seattle, they all want 2-7 years of experience, and don’t tell you how to get that experience. Part of what I hope to talk about in Pullman is how people can gain the experience necessary to get in to this industry.

3. What kind of compensation, both starting and after 2-3 years?– this was not a big deal. I want experience rubbing shoulders with the experts, not large sums of cash. That said, hearing how high the pay is was nice. I have also talked with others about working at Portent, and one guy who has been offered much more by another company is looking at us, because of our culture, the experience he would get, and the kind of advancement offered.

4. What kind of advancement?– that I got to be on the management team from day one was a huge draw. Not that that was what I was looking for. I just wanted to be in an internet marketing agency, learning everything from the ground up. That said, our company is on the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 100 fastest growing companies list. I tell people, there is so much opportunity here. As we keep growing, and the position above you opens up, who do you think we are going to put there? Some new guy, or the person who knows how we do things?

Company:
5. How big is the company?– we are about 25 strong, a good number for me. It means I get to know everyone here, even though I don’t work with some of them very often. To date, there is just one person I have not worked with on a project.

6. What kind of culture?– we are a scrappy startup that got its funding from credit cards. Forget that we are 11 years old; we still have that spirit. And I like that. Compare to Zaaz that started off with $5 million of financing.

7. What kind of clients?-I did not know about what kind of clients we had until I started, but if I had known, it would be a draw. Of my main clients, for half I work directly with the owner, and the other half with the marketing director. So I work with the decision makers, people who know huge amounts about their business.

8. What is the focus of the company?– Ian made it clear in interviews that integrity and profitability are what we do. Our focus is on helping small and medium size businesses experience massive growth. I don’t know how this could be communicated well previous to working here. How about this: I have a client right now who is small, and wants to be big. If she decides to work with us long term, we will be instrumental in her achieving success. That is our focus.

9. Is it independently owned, and if so who is the owner?– Ian owns the company, period. No investors. He makes all the big decisions. We don’t do committees, though Ian listens to us before making many decisions.

10. How old is the company?– Ian started it in 1995, which is a significant part of why I decided to join. He must know what he is doing, right?

———
So there are my answers to those questions, KermitFan. Now, what stuck out about Portent vs. the other firms? First, Razorfish did not return my email promptly. Oh, wait, they never did. I don’t mind an email back saying “we are not interested at this time,” but to not respond to employment inquires at all… I feel justified in generalizing that kind of attitude to the entire organization. They are part of the world’s largest internet marketing agency. Why should they care about me?

Contrast this with Portent, where the first time I heard about them was when I was having lunch with Lenora and she called Ian to ask him some questions I was curious about. The first I heard of the company was hearing the CEO pitch himself to me… a different impression entirely.

So I did not do much research, besides finding that all the jobs I wanted required 2-7 years of experience. My mother had hired Lenora as a business coach some months earlier, I had lunch with Lenora, I talked with Ian, I asked him for an informational interview, I got a second interview, I got hired.

Here is the challenge, KermitFan- how do I communicate all that to a group of 100ish students? I got my job because I was very lucky, in the right place at the right time with the right contacts, and also because I brought the right skills to the table. (for example, on the phone with Ian for the first time, I arranged for an interview. Most job seekers would not be so bold (cocky) (aggressive) as to ask the CEO of a firm they had just heard of for an interview. Note to wsu students: I just told you what I like. Do this, and you have a better change of getting an interview with me.)

KermitFan, does that answer your question well enough?

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I'm now blogging about internet marketing at RedBeardConsulting.com.

Red Beard Consulting

At Red Beard Consulting I work on internet marketing primarily for speakers. I also work with Infusionsoft.

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