Broad Career Goal
Moving up the career ladder in the desired industry is a perspective that many employees strive for but cannot achieve this aim for various reasons, for instance, high competition, insufficient qualifications, and some other obstacles. I have already chosen the area where I would like to grow and develop as a professional: the antique industry attracts me, and opening my own business in this field is my broad career goal.
At the same time, I realize that my intention is not enough to come to the desired result and become the owner of a private company specializing in purchasing and selling antiques to collectors and ordinary buyers. As intermediate tasks for achieving my ultimate goal, I see getting a job in this industry in a position that is associated with antiques.
This will allow me to gain the required experience and assess my abilities to start creating an individual business on my own. However, to begin with, the analysis of the merits and potential demerits of working in this industry needs to be performed to evaluate the anticipated obstacles and challenges.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Building a Career in the Antique Industry
The antique industry has some advantages that make it a beneficial sphere to develop and gain profits. According to Tweddale (2020), today, antiques are attracting more and more people, and the target audience is younger compared to a few decades earlier. This means that people have become more interested in purchasing antiques that have not only a practical but also aesthetic value. In addition, as Tweddale (2020) notes, selling opportunities have been greatly optimized due to a wide range of sales channels and opportunities to post ads for sale and purchase.
In the era of free access to various media platforms, buyers can shop online, purchase desired items from specialty stores, and auction individual items on their own. Joyce (2020) remarks that many antiques have ceased to be luxury that is available only to certain categories of buyers, and people have begun to pay attention to unique furniture, tableware, and other decorative elements more often. As a result, the antique industry has expanded its boundaries and transformed from the sphere limited to a narrow list of consumers to the one that offers unique products to a wide range of clients.
At the same time, this industry has some disadvantages that are essential to take into account when evaluating potential business projects. According to Joyce (2020), many antiques have fallen in value, and sellers of these items cannot expect to earn the same income as in the last century.
Tweddale (2020) confirms this trend and gives an example “an eight-piece set of George III dining chairs, once valued at $8,000,” which is available to buyers for no more than $500 today (para. 1). Another obstacle is making errors in the specifics of the product offered to consumers. If a seller cannot predict the demand for certain items, the risk of losses is high. Thus, effective forecasting and active marketing are valuable aspects of a successful antique trade.
To start my own antique business, I believe that first, I need to work in this industry, which will allow me to gain valuable experience and learn better about the specifics and pitfalls in this field. In this regard, I consider it objective to review three potential jobs. They are a product director at Sotheby’s, one of the branches of the international auction house, a sales associate at Village Antiques, a retail organization, and a marketing operations coordinator at 1stdibs, an e-commerce company.
Each of these positions can help me gain important skills and knowledge about the specifics of the antique business from the perspective of an employee who is directly involved in the work process.
Product Director at Sotheby’s
This world-renowned auction house operates in 40 countries and has a strong focus on the sale of antiques (“Careers,” 2020). The specifics of working as a product director in one of the Sotheby’s branches makes it possible to establish flexible strategies for interaction with clients. Moreover, this position involves constant work with antiques and allows becoming an expert in various related industries, including fundraising, sales development, and other specialties (“How to get a job in the art world,” n.d.). Therefore, this job can provide me with a good professional background for the development of an individual antique business.
Sales Associate at Village Antiques
This position of an ordinary employee can help me obtain the necessary data on the demand for antique products, modern pricing policies, and other aspects that determine the dynamics of sales. As practice in this industry shows, buyers, particularly collectors, often make unusual requests, and market interests cannot be standardized (“Antiques and art dealers,” 2020).
Working as a sales associate at Village Antiques has not many responsibilities and is focused primarily on the sale of antiques. Transactions, the preparation of orders, and other activities also fall under this position (“Furniture sales associate,” 2020). All these nuances can help me learn the inside of the antique business.
Marketing Operations Coordinator at 1stdibs
The position at 1stdibs can be valuable because the platform operates online, and working in such an environment may give me an opportunity to learn the specifics of selling antiques on the Internet. According to Dobrzynski (2017), the online marketplace is promising and characterized by individual trends, pricing policies, and other conventions.
A marketing operations coordinator is responsible for tracking customer activities, client interactions, and other procedures that are designed to promote 1stdibs’s activities (“Marketing operations coordinator,” 2020). This experience is essential to open my individual one due to the chance to get acquainted with the peculiarities of online antique trading.
Career Trajectories Across Early, Mid, and Late Career Stages
The career trajectory assessment of the three aforementioned professions in the antique industry is an algorithm that can help identify the pros and cons and determine characteristic working features. For each of the positions, there are individual rates of hiring, payment, compensation, career advancement, and other peculiarities. The profession itself largely determines the specifics of duties and earnings; for instance, according to existing data, the average annual salary of an ordinary antique dealer is about $45,000 (“Antique dealer job description,” 2020).
One of the most common career paths in this industry is to work as an assistant, then as a dealer, and then as a store or gallery owner (“Antiques and art dealers,” 2020). To identify the unique characteristics of each of the submitted jobs, relevant details will be considered, which will allow making a conclusion about the ways of professional growth at different stages.
Product Director at Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s, being one of the largest auction houses in the world, is a promising company not only in terms of professional growth but also earnings. In particular, the product director’s position is one of the highest-paid because the product department has the highest salary level. According to the chart presented in Figure 1 (see Appendix A), the average annual salary for this department is $164,000 (“Sotheby’s salaries,” 2020).
At the same time, the specifics of the auction house work require high responsibility from the employee in this managerial position. Bandle (2016) states that the organization acts as an agent between the seller and the buyer. This means that to get a promotion, an employee needs to not only perform one’s immediate duties effectively but also earn the trust of the target audience as a reliable performer.
The position of product director at Sotheby’s is characterized by many requirements for applicants. In addition to the ability to maintain a continuous workflow, an employee is to have experience in an administrative position and have knowledge in the fields of financial control and accounting (“VP, product director,” 2016).
For my individual antiques business, this position can provide valuable experience in managing and controlling consumer activities and supply chains. However, judging by the reviews about Sotheby’s and, in particular, the post of product director, career opportunities above this post are not high, and the indicator of work-life balance is low (“Senior product manager,” 2020). At the same time, the auction house is doing well: according to the 2018 report, its adjusted net income was $128,941 thousand (Sotheby’s, 2018).
Despite the job prestige, the company’s employees note the insufficient level of pay in the context of existing responsibilities, when the workload can be irregular and high during auctions (“Senior product manager,” 2020). Nevertheless, this job can be valuable to me due to a rich professional experience I can gain by working among professionals who are involved in antiques globally.
Sales Associate at Village Antiques
Village Antiques is a company that owns a number of antique shops. The possibility of employment as a sales associate opens up low salary prospects but allows evaluating all the nuances of this business from the inside. Since this position is part-time, the average annual salary ranges between $24,000-$35,000 (“Sales associate part time,” 2020).
A typical working day is usually up to seven hours (10 am to 7 pm) (“Now hiring,” 2017). Becoming an employee of the company is not a hard way, and the hiring process itself is standard. Applicants can fill out a simple open-access form in which they answer basic questions about themselves (“Antiques Village employment application,” n.d.).
The range of responsibilities is not extended, but in addition to individual skills, such as stress resistance and energy, applying requires at least two years of managerial experience (“Sales associate part time,” 2020). Working in such an environment can help me get an objective view of the demand for antique products and assess consumers’ activity to understand the specifics of their interests better.
Village Antiques offers its consumers a wide range of antiques. According to an interview with one of the customer relations managers, this retail organization has large stores with a rich assortment, and the team is friendly and close-knit (“Small business spotlight,” 2014). Since this work is stressful and requires responsibility, I will have to ensure compliance with the rules of interaction with clients and colleagues.
As Jones (2020) notes, negative behaviors among sales associates are often associated with stress and caused by inflexibility in communication. Therefore, working in this position will help me assess my resistance to stress, study client interaction styles, and develop individual mechanisms for interaction with partners and the target audience to start my own business successfully.
Marketing Operations Coordinator at 1stdibs
1stdibs is a steadily growing e-commerce company that is involved in the sale of antiques. The considered position of a marketing operations coordinator is not the most paid since it belongs to the product department, while the salaries of the legal department are the highest. In Figure 2 (see Appendix A), averages are presented, and in the product department, this parameter is approximately $120,000 (“1stdibs salaries,” 2020). According to a 2019 company report that Luckel (2019) publishes, “the company has raised $170 million in primary capital” (para. 2). This success testifies to the stable business of 1stdibs, and I would like to gain experience in the marketing department of the company.
When analyzing the specifics of working in the company, one can note that career opportunities are relatively high. According to the data from free access, the work-life balance at 1stdibs has a high indicator (“Marketing operations coordinator,” 2020). Along with this, the level of the culture of interaction in the workplace meets modern standards, and the shares of compensation and benefits are significant (“Marketing operations coordinator,” 2020).
Working as a marketing operations coordinator involves analyzing the media space and consumer interests. Ekpo et al. (2015) argue that online interaction with the target audience helps not only obtain objective data about products but also compete in the market effectively due to information about customer preferences. After working at 1stdibs, I will be able to expand my knowledge about the interests of buyers, their requests, complaints, and other factors that can help me develop my business without significant obstacles.
Recruitment, Training, and Compensation
Recruitment & Selection
Recruitment is an essential part of the workflow for most organizations. According to Ployhart and Weekley (2015), planning the selection process always involves forecasting labor supply and demand and implies setting goals, planning, implementing specific programs, and evaluating their effectiveness.
The HR function, as Cappelli (2015) argues, is important when the company’s workforce is to be qualified. Selection methods should be characterized by fairness and utility when the benefits of hiring employees exceed the costs of hiring (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998). For the three jobs considered, individual selection principles are applied since ranks and responsibilities are distinctive.
Hiring a product director at Sotheby’s imposes expanded requirements for applicants regarding responsibilities and skills. In addition to the developed attainments of communication and cooperation, the knowledge of web control features, experience in a managerial position, and previous activities in the information technology environment are mandatory (“Senior product manager,” 2020).
Such a strict selection is due to a high position and responsibility that the appointed employee has to bear. At Village Antiques, recruiting terms are less stringent because the position of a sales associate involves only material responsibility. Communicating with customers politely and assisting with unloading and loading products are the key tasks, and a simple resume selection method is applied, which is relevant for this job (“Sales associate part time,” 2020).
In contrast, the post of marketing operations coordinator at 1stdibs is high-ranking and explains a wide range of requirements for applicants. However, the knowledge of the theory of commerce and the ability to carry out marketing activities adequately are conditioned by numerous benefits and decent wages (“Marketing operations coordinator,” n.d.). Therefore, the company’s management has the right to count on the selection of talented and professional employees.
Training & Development
Staff training and development are valuable initiatives in modern companies. As Nikandrou et al. (2008) state, by employing effective education methods, organizations can improve performance outcomes and, therefore, strengthen their market position.
However, according to Giangreco et al. (2009), ensuring employees’ job satisfaction is largely achieved due to educational programs when subordinates learn and acquire valuable skills. Caligiuri and Tarique (2006), in turn, draw attention to the importance of cross-cultural training that can be conducted through distinctive algorithms but carry the same goal: to strengthen communication and increase team productivity. Each of the three aforementioned positions in the antique industry may involve individual training and development methods.
Sotheby’s policy concerning its product director training is in line with generally accepted standards. A specialist in this position can count on additional courses and professional development programs, and although career opportunities are limited, this way of enhancing skills can be a step towards improvement (“Senior product manager,” 2020).
Such a regime assumes that an employee in this position has already gained all the necessary attainments, and additional training is optional, which, however, does not contradict the principles of organizing the work process. In-depth training programs and refresher courses for the sales associate position at Village Antiques are not applied because, firstly, this job is part-time, and secondly, career growth is unlikely.
The only available training method is communication with the founder of the retail company, but as part of the responsibilities, no other development algorithms are instruments (“Sales associate part time,” 2020). 1stdibs, being a high-income company, can afford to provide training programs for subordinates, and the high level of inclusion criterion reported by the employees proves the effectiveness of this approach (“Marketing operations coordinator,” n.d.). Thus, distinctive training and development tools are utilized in the companies in question.
Compensation that is offered in modern business companies is an important part of corporate policies to stimulate productivity and retain talent. According to McFarlin and Sweeney (2013), compensatory bonuses are now perceived as a natural aspect of operations, although different cultures apply distinctive methods to motivate productivity.
Brown et al. (2003) highlight two types of compensatory benefits: direct and indirect, which are often referred to as tangible and intangible and imply either direct cash bonuses or social services, respectively. In the three jobs under consideration, compensation principles are distinctive, depending on the company’s status and the organization’s market success.
In the position of product director at Sotheby’s, compensation practices are promoted, which is natural for such a large company. However, based on employees’ feedbacks, the quality of these initiatives is not high, which is reflected in the high cost of healthcare services, although vacations and workdays are paid stably (“Senior product manager,” 2020). This may be due to a large number of employees, and given the high salary of a product director, such a gap in compensation policy is allowed.
At Village Antiques, employee bonuses are also offered, but they do not go beyond standard ones, in particular, paid vacation and regular salaries, which is natural in the context of few employees (“Sales associate part time,” 2020). Of the three jobs, the benefits of marketing operations coordinator at 1stdibs are the highest.
According to employees’ feedbacks, the company offers both individual and group compensation projects, free access to healthcare services, and convenient vacation conditions (“Marketing operations coordinator,” n.d.). This approach allows asserting that 1stdibs management supports the policy of the retention of talented employees, which is in line with modern principles of strategic planning and business development.
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