Mornin’ Cup: Dead End Job



deadend_job.gifThe other day I was enjoying a pint or two at lunch with a friend of mine. That is one of the biggest benefits of being “in between executive assignments.” He regaled me with the details of a rather interesting phone call he received about a month ago from a recruiter sourcing an executive opportunity with a large publicly-traded firm.

By all accounts, my friend is a pretty successful fellow. He’s worked with some big name-brand firms at the executive level, and is a bit of a globetrotter. However, he has no desire to leave Atlanta, and this particular opportunity was in the Washington, DC area. Nevertheless, it didn’t prevent the recruiter from trying to entice him into a move.

She asked him to tell her what it would take for him to take the job in DC. At this point, he didn’t know the company name, or even really anything about the role, other than it was of a “very important strategic nature” for the hiring firm. He threw out a figure of $300K a year, thinking “hey, why not?”, and was summarily treated to a rather lengthy period of silence. After some time elapsed, the recruiter said “did you say $300K?”

After confirming this, my friend explained that in order to uproot his family, sacrifice his wife’s career (who is also a high-earning top-tier executive), and match the cost of living in DC, he would need $300K per year. Tasting victory, and closing in on his prey, he then proceeded to ask the recruiter to explain more about the job, as perhaps there was some flexibility there in terms of salary and benefits, if the opportunity was right for him.

Then, the recruiter dropped the bombshell on him.

Now folks, we’ve all had some really crappy jobs in our past lives. Everyone has at least one story about some bizarre, horrible, and undesirable position they’ve filled. But this one takes the cake.

I’m not talking about cleaning drains, scrubbing floors, or scraping out cow dung from the backside of a barn. Nope. We’re talking light years worse than those.

What was this job he was offered?

—+> Dialup Customer Retention Manager for AOL <+---

Once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor from laughing so hard, we can continue. No, seriously, take a moment if you need it.

AOL is losing hundreds of thousands of dialup customers each month to broadband, and this is their strategy? It is pretty evident that the industry has passed them by. Where is the technology leadership? It appears to me that they have none. AOL is on the lame train, with a first class ticket on the nonstop to nowhere. They are the poster boys for laggard companies. There will come a day when people will speak of AOL in the same manner that they now speak of Eastern Airlines, Commodore Electronics, and Hayes Corporation.

Can you imagine trying to phone dialup customers (no pun intended) and begging them to not go with broadband? In the words of Sting and The Police, circa 1978, from the flip side of Can’t Stand Losing You:

don’t want no dead end job
I don’t wanna be no number
I don’t want no dead end job
I don’t wanna be no number



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