First – Before anyone can even think it, this is NOT a sour grapes post. I have given the situation a lot of thought and feel as if I have reached a rational conclusion…not an emotional one. So, please don’t read this and assume I’m plotting revenge…

Second – This is not a plea for sympathy. I’m cool. Really But, given that this is a forum for exposing jamokes…it is my duty to tell the story.

I’m glad I won’t be working as a Regional Marketing Manager for Taco Bell.

But, let me start from the beginning…

Taco Bell contacted me back in the middle of June. A friend of a friend had turned them on to my resume and they stated they were very interested in my experience and abilities. Initially (but privately) I was a little hesitant since I was not particularly fond of the Taco Bell Brand. But, the appeal of a) joining a company and getting out of an agency and b) working in a different industry helped me overcome my initial hesitation. Additionally, during my research I discovered that a) Taco Bell was/is doing VERY well (unlike some recent clients I’ve had) and b) the marketing organization is held in pretty high regard. Who Knew?? So, even though I hadn’t been in a Taco Bell restaurant for probably 12 years, I told them I was interested.

The job was local. It lined up almost exactly with what I have done in my career. Retail food is the same as retail cars. Food franchisees are the same type of people as Car Franchisees. Their ads sound the same. The state of “perpetual selling” is the same. I knew I would have no trouble. Obviously they thought the same thing after reviewing my resume and invited me to the consideration process.

By the 4th of July holiday, I had done five fone interviews. Each fone interview lasted better than 90 minutes. Each was VERY tough. I was grilled. I was tested. I was asked for input and opinion on various case studies. I was put through the ringer. My enthusiasm didn’t fade however. These were people who held peer or management positions around the country. They were smart and articulate. They knew their business. I wanted to impress them. Each ‘successful’ interview gave me more confidence and positive enthusiasm for my chances with the selection process and fulfilling the job requirements. And, during this part of the process, the emails and the fone calls were fairly frequent and regular. There were emails to set up calls. There were calls to set up emails. There were follow-up emails after calls. There were follow-up calls after emails. It obviously kept me busy.

Then, the ‘courtship’ slowed down considerably. I was told that the next stage would be an in-person interview, but that it wouldn’t occur until August. And, for a month, nothing occurred. This puzzled me. Why the ‘full court press’ only to then seemingly stop playing the game entirely? The friend of the friend told me that this was normal, so I kept myself from getting alarmed.

A brief aside on why getting out of an agency is so appealing to me… Agency work sux. Period. Agencies are stoopid. The work is stoopid. Stoopid is as stoopid does. This attitude is not because of my distaste for commercials and having my TV viewing constantly interrupted by ads for products I don’t want. And, it doesn’t really have much to do with the annoying things that clients make agencies do, just because they can. Rather, I think it is more fundamental than this. The agency model is dead. You can read lots of articles in the trade publications or online about the death of advertising (YouTube, Google, Yahoo, etc. have upset the apple cart) so I won’t restate what has already been said ad nauseum. But, pointing to technology as the reason for this erosion is short sided, in my opinion. Technology is not the main or only reason. Technology just allows the trend to occur more quickly. And, it is happening quickly. The agency model of providing a service (creative element or media buying) that the client company is either unable or unwilling to do itself is too basic of an idea for it not to be replaced or improved. Why pay for something you can do yourself? And, agencies are only recently becoming aware they have missed the boat here (I personally recommend TV buys and commercials despite every shred of research telling me that people are not watching TV commercials…hello, TIVO???) but are NOT doing anything to make amends. Why? Because agencies are not and have never been sources of innovative and progressive thought. Agencies don’t invent. Clients see agencies as the ‘free-agents’ who are hired to get something distasteful done. Clients certainly DO NOT see their agencies as partners in the business. They see their agencies as the Remora riding on the underside of the shark. It’s not a symbiotic relationship. It’s parasitic. And, I am too smart (but obviously either lazy or blind up to this point) to continue to sit in a room of people where my effort and experience is seen as less than equal.

The face to face interview occurred the first week of August. I took half a day off from ‘The House Move’ and met the person to whom I would be reporting at the airport. Her flight had been delayed, but obviously I was in the right place at the right time to perfectly make the contact. Over lunch, I thought we had a great conversation about the job, the industry, the future, and the past. Again I was grilled. I was tested. But, I felt as if I did well. During the return to the airport, I was told that I was still being considered and would next have face-to-face interviews with two local Sales & Operations Directors. I was given the impression (and I consider myself to be a fairly skeptical person) I was VERY much in the running and had done nothing to hurt my chances.

The next day I was told via an email I would be doing a fone interview the following day with a Marketing Director in another city, instead of the face to face with the locals. At the time I assumed it meant that the locals weren’t yet available…or that this other Director had just come available. I didn’t take it as a sign of anything going wrong. Regardless, this call went (in my opinion) as well or better than all of the previous calls. I certainly wasn’t given any indication otherwise.

With the exception of one fone call (which I’ll get to in a moment), that was to be my last contact with any of the people with whom I had dealt. For three weeks, I heard nothing from them. No emails. No fone calls. Nothing. For my part, I tried to keep the communication channels open. I sent a “Hi, how are ya? How’s business? I remain very interested in the position.” email each week. I didn’t receive any responses. I left a couple of voicemails. Again, I didn’t hear back. It was a quiet and long three weeks.

On Monday of this week, I sent another “Hi, how are ya? How’s business? I remain very interested in the position.” email. This time, however, I did get a fone call. It was from the HR person. I knew as soon as I heard her voice I was going to be told ‘No’.

And, here’s why I have to tell this story…here’s why I feel the need to expose jamokerish behavior…(just remember what I said about not having sour grapes or needing sympathy)…

The HR person says to me, “I guess I forgot to do this. I guess I forgot to call you.”

Absolutely Amazing.
Shame on me for allowing myself to get emotionally involved.
Shame on me for convincing myself I could be a steward of the Taco Bell Brand.
Shame on me for allowing them to waste my time.

She continued, “We have decided we won’t be moving any further with you as a candidate.”

Me (exercising admirable control of my tone of voice), “Ok.”

“But, we would like to keep your name in the file should something else for which you’d be better suited come available.”

(not allowing any hint of annoyance to seep through) “Sure.”

“As far as the reasons for our decision, we are looking at this from both a long term and short term standpoint and came to the conclusion you were not the right person for the position.”

(this is NOT really a reason that makes any sense, by the way…merely gibberish)

Awkward pause. “Ok.”

“But, like I said, we would like to keep your name in the file.

(in my best and most cheerful voice) “Ok. Thank you very much for the consideration.”

End of call.

Now, I can understand I wasn’t the only candidate. And, I am well adjusted enough to know I am not going to land every job. So, I don’t have an issue with striking out with Taco Bell. Rather, I have an issue with the complete cold shoulder following the face-to-face interview. What could possibly have happened during the interview to cause such an abrupt change? How could I be told one day I’m still in the game, only to be (for all practical appearances) shut off the next day? What the hell happened? Did I have a booger? Did I have food on my tooth? Did I use a racial slur? Or was it something else, something for which I have no control? I know I will never find out. But, I still have an issue with the abrupt about-face. AND, I have an issue with an HR person forgetting to call me to deliver the bad news. WTF!?!?!? How could this kind of mistake occur? Surely my continued attempts for communication were being received. Surely someone is responsible for making that call. It is inexcusable for a company to make this kind of mistake. Jamokes indeed.

In response to it all, I have done a fair amount of thinking. And, when I say I’m glad I’m not working for them, I mean it. It took too long. It dragged out. And, it obviously ended in a pretty unprofessional manner. These points indicate to me employment with Taco Bell might have included similarly frustrating aspects. How quickly would raises or promotions occur? What about dealings with HR? Would important things be forgotten? Would every decision take three months?

Now, there are those that will accuse me of rationalizing/justifying after the fact. “They didn’t hire me, so I hate them.” This is not the case. I am not a regular Taco Bell customer. I prefer Chipotle actually. I was talking myself into it, in order to get the experience…to get out of the agency. It isn’t as if the money was going to be better. It isn’t as if I was going to be doing something that would benefit the planet. And, while the people with whom I interviewed are certainly smart and talented, the next place at which I interview will surely have equally interesting employees. So, no, I’m not rationalizing/justifying. I can move on from Taco Bell without having a hole in my heart.

To prove this, here’s the email I sent yesterday:

Dear DeAnna, Sherry, Vickie, Mary, Debbie & Eric,

Just a quick note of THANKS…

I very much appreciate the opportunity/consideration and will always value the experience. I wish all of you the best of luck in your careers and future endeavors!!

Thanks Again,

See? I was very well behaved.
But, I still think the experience was worthy of a jamoke expose’…