A Guide to PPAI Career Resources

PromoPlacement was recently invited to spend the day at PPAI headquarters.  The PPAI was terrific and it was a great day. It was wonderful to meet all of the men and women who are directing our industry’s future.

“Happy to spend time with Patrick McHargue, Director of Talent at PromoPlacement. Always looking for ways to bring new talent to industry companies and help promotional professionals find the right opportunities. Thanks for making the trip from St. Louis for the visit!”

-Paul Bellantone | Chief Executive Officer of PPAI

After meeting with the professional development team at PPAI, we were very impressed with the education and career tools available through PPAI. We were so impressed that we want to remind you of all of the great PPAI career resources at your fingertips.

Resume Posting


If you’re actively seeking a new opportunity in our industry, the resume posting service provided by PPAI is a great place to visit. To make the most of this resource, you simply upload your resume and complete a short form. This platform allows you to get your background onto a platform that’s well-travelled by industry hiring managers looking to add to their team.

Job Board


The PPAI job board is quite popular with industry hiring managers. Essentially, it’s the inverse of the resume posting platform. Hiring managers who are looking to fill opportunities fill out a short form and upload a job description. You can even see the date the job opening was posted so you can be sure that the opportunity is active and still open.

Online PPAI Education


The online education portal on PPAI.org is really the hidden gem of career resources. To access it, you’ll need to know your PPAI username and password. Once signed in, you’ll get access to a myriad of live and on-demand educational seminars. These seminars aren’t exclusively focused on career advancement, but are an invaluable asset when looking to round out your industry know-how and expertise.

Topics covered in PPAI’s online education platform include SAGE, client development, decorating methods, supply chain, social compliance, social media best practices, and industry-specific sales practices.

If you’re looking to advance your career or searching for a new opportunity in our industry, these PPAI resources are excellent places to start your journey!

10 Hiring Red Flags You Need to Watch For

10 Hiring Red Flags You Need to Watch For

Hiring a new team member is a bit like getting engaged after the third date. You’re making a big decision with a limited amount of information. There are three methods of reducing new hire risk. Increase the amount of information you have about the candidate, draw new insights from the information that you already have, or work with an experienced recruiter who specializes in your field.

We’re going to focus on the second method and share the warning signs to watch for when hiring a new team member.

Resume Errors

  • This is pretty self-explanatory. In today’s job market, candidates must proofread and present pristine resumes. If they don’t spend the time to review a 1-2 page document what does that say about their professionalism, preparation, and attention to detail?


  • Bad traffic, accidents, and car trouble happen every day. However, lateness suggests that the candidate didn’t proactively plan ahead and build buffer time into their schedule. While not the biggest red flag on our list, it is a mark against the candidate.


  • Much like their resume, a candidate’s appearance should be professional and pristine. First impressions are critical to the job interview process. How serious can someone be about the opportunity if they don’t bother to dress the part?

Lack of Research

  • In our opinion, this is the biggest job interview sin on the list. In the internet age, there’s simply no excuse for failing to brush up on the history, products, and key players within a firm. If you ask a candidate “Are you familiar with our firm?” and they are not, you can probably end the interview right there.

Explain Their Interest

  • Ask your candidate “Why this position? Why our firm?”. There are a lot of correct responses, but just a few wrong ones. If he or she doesn’t have an answer, says something like “A job is a job”, or “My mortgage won’t pay itself” you aren’t dealing with someone who is legitimately interested in your firm.


  • Anyone who runs down their former employer or co-workers won’t hesitate to speak ill about your firm in the future. Integrity could be an issue for this candidate.

Doesn’t Take Responsibility

  • We all make mistakes and, hopefully, learn from them. A candidate who won’t admit to failing or making mistakes in the past are either delusional, egotistical, or lacking self-awareness. All three traits are to be avoided.

No Enthusiasm

  • Most hiring managers want to see passion and enthusiasm from job candidates. It’s often seen as an indicator of a candidate’s true interest in the firm and the opportunity. It’s definitely noticeable when a candidate is dull or just going through the motions and it’s a red flag that there’s no drive or passion for the opportunity to work for your firm.

Doesn’t Ask Questions

  • There comes a point in most interviews when the hiring manager pauses and says “Now, what questions do you have for me?” Again, there are a lot of correct responses and just one incorrect one. If a candidate doesn’t have any questions after an hour-long conversation with you, he or she either wasn’t listening or isn’t invested.

No “Thank You”

  • A post-interview “Thank You” note is to be expected. It won’t get a candidate any brownie points, but it’s absence is likely to be noticed. A “Thank You” note is a minor sign that a candidate is professional, polite, and at least a little bit organized. The absence of such a note is a red flag that your candidate may be inconsiderate of your time and lacking some professional polish.

We’ve looked at the 10 biggest and most visible red flags you’ll encounter during the hiring of a new team member. While they may seem insignificant, these cautionary signs provide valuable clues and insights into who your candidate really is and what they might be like to work with. Watching for these red flags will help you make the best decision possible throughout the hiring process.

What hiring red flags have you encountered?

How to Make Internships Work for the Promo Industry

Making Internships Work for the Promo Industry

Our industry, like many others, has a rapidly aging work force. In many ways, this is a wonderful thing. There are thousands of promotional products industry professionals with decades of industry knowledge, connections, and expertise. This experience and expertise has greatly improved the service that we can provide to both customers and end-user. Experience is invaluable, but all industries need new talent in order to survive.

Where do you find the new, young talent your organization needs?

  1. Engage with the career center of your local college or university. Most institutions will welcome you with open arms.
  1. During on-boarding, establish a schedule of activities to include a company overview, short-term and long-term projects, and a rotation through sales, sales support, marketing, and operations departments.
  1. Special focus should be given to the intern’s major and how education translates to real world applications.
  1. Unlike a permanent hire, with internships you must begin with the end in mind. Plan the beginning, middle, and end of the intern’s workload.
  1. Assign an experienced mentor to monitor the intern’s daily activities.
  1. Assign an executive to provide training input and broaden the intern’s view of the business and industry.
  1. Pay your interns and expect them to provide a return on your investment. You will be amazed what they can accomplish!
  1. Stay in touch with past interns and keep them engaged in your business if you wish to bring them on as a permanent employee.

Establishing a successful internship program is a very attainable goal. However, it does require commitment and investment. Focus on making the experience a win-win for both your organization and the intern and you have the opportunity to bring some strong new talent into your business!

Are you looking to add young, energetic promotional product professionals to your team?

Contact our team today to discuss how you can effectively cultivate and attract new talent.

Career Advancement Reading List

Blog Title - PP - Career Advancement Reading List

To say that “Knowledge is Power” is the height of cliché. It’s also undisputedly true. The more you know, the better off you are. Few forms of knowledge are as beneficial as a firm understanding of how to develop yourself as a person and advance your career.

With that goal in mind, we’ve compiled our list of the best career and professional development books that we’ve read:

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

What Is It About?

  • Written by the COO of Facebook, Lean In covers the obstacles, both internal and external, facing working women. Sandberg examines gender interactions in the workplace, the idea of “having it all”, and how to make the best career choices.

Who Is It For?

  • Both women and men

Most Important Lesson?

  • Increasing the number of women at the top of the business world will benefit everyone.

David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

What Is It About?

  • Gladwell examines the upside of our disadvantages and the downside of our advantages. He talks through dozens of historical examples of how underdogs best powerhouses and the hidden advantages of being the little guy.

Who Is It For?

  • Anyone considering taking a leap

Most Important Lesson?

  • Don’t wait. You have all you need to get started. Start today!

Never Eat Alone: and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi

What Is It About?

  • Never Eat Alone could be the How to Win Friends and Influence People of our generation. It’s full of short, impactful chapters on how to connect with others and build your business or career by forging and managing relationships. Networking isn’t about collecting contact information, but sharing your expertise and providing value for others.

Who Is It For?

  • Everyone who wants to expand their network

Most Important Lesson?

  • Be bold and go after what you really want.

The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

What Is It About?

  • Co-written by the founder of LinkedIn, The Start-up of You instructs you how to take control your professional future. To maximize your career, you have to know what you’re good at, what you want to do, and what the job market values. Merge all three and you’ll set yourself up for the best career possible.

Who Is It For?

  • Everyone!

Most Important Lesson?

  • You’re the boss of your career.

Smartcuts by Shane Snow

What Is It About?

  • In Smartcuts, Shane Snow dismantles the idea that climbing the corporate ladder is required to reach the top. He argues that waiting your turn and paying dues is not only the wrong way to get ahead but can actually hinder your progress. With case studies and real-life experiences, Snow makes the case for “lateral thinking”. “Later thinking”—solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, is highlighted as the way that most successful people have made it to the top.

Who Is It For?

  • Professionals who feel stuck and are open to alternative routes to success

Most Important Lesson?

  • Shifting gears and continuing to add to your skill set is very often the best way to get ahead.

Knock ‘Em Dead: The Ultimate Job Seeker’s Handbook by Martin Yate

What Is It About?

  • Martin Yate is considered the job search guru. This book and its companions are the handbook that every job seeker needs. They provide a step-by-step, in-depth understanding of what hiring managers want, how to sell yourself, and win the job you want.

Who Is It For?

  • Each and every job seeker. If you have a resume, you should own this book

Most Important Lesson?

  • It’s not what you know, but who knows you that will land you your next job.

More Best Answers to The 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions by Matthew J. and Nanette F. DeLuca

What Is It About?

  • While Knock ‘Em Dead covers the A-Z of the job search, More Best Answers guides you across the goal line. It’s a tactical and practical handbook for interview prep, interview strategy, interview follow-up, and compensation negotiation. It gives readers the tools to land the interview, feel more comfortable and in control during interviews, and answer tough interview questions that cause other job seekers to stumble.

Who Is It For?

  • Anyone with an interview coming up

Most Important Lesson?

  • Interviewing is a skill. It can be taught and learned. The recipe for becoming a great interviewee is one part preparation, one part observation, one part improvisation, and one part negotiation.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

What Is It About?

  • First published in 1937, Think and Grow Rich is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s the spiritual successor to Dale Carnegie’s famous How to Win Friends and Influence People. Universally applicable business and networking advice is abundant, as Hill tells of his journey from the poor house to prosperity.

Who Is It For?

  • Everyone!

Most Important Lesson?

  • The power of positivity

What have you read that has added to your career or professional development? We’d love to hear from you!

Planning for Growth & Succession

Planning for Growth & Succession

Planning for Growth & Succession

If you’re an executive or manager, you’re busy. It’s likely your hard work got you to your current position and hard work is the only way you’re going to keep it. Hard work is great, but if all you do is work hard, you’re going to fail at growth and succession planning. Ensuring the future of the firm isn’t about working hard, but working smart.

It’s the responsibility of every executive or manager to have a plan for the future of your firm, your division, or your department. This plan is built around talent. The end goal is to ensure that your firm has the right number, type, and quality of people in the right roles, at the right time, to execute its strategy.

Most managers understand that there’s a connection between business strategy and talent. However, very few managers create plans or processes to leverage this connection for the benefit of their firm. Below is an action-based outline for talent development and succession planning that supports your firm’s business strategy and goals.

  • Create an ideal candidate profile based on your firm’s strategy. Begin this process well in advance of your expected need. Consider both short and long-term business goals. What experiences, traits, competencies, and skills will this person need for success?
  • Get an accurate of assessment of current candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. This is best done utilizing 360 performance feedback from the candidate’s supervisor, co-workers, and direct reports.
  • Think ahead. Don’t just plan how to replace the incumbent, plan 1-3 moves ahead. Succession planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Dig deep and learn who the potential candidates are in the mid-level and junior positions within your firm.
  • Develop the skills needed for future roles with on-the-job training, coaching, mentoring, and education. Your executive team should make recommendations on how to prepare their successors, spend time mentoring these employees, and advise them on the unique challenges they may face down the road. Leaders should include their successors in routine projects to help them understand their decision-making process.
  • Stay up to date on candidates’ career goals. Have a quarterly discussion with employees about their career aspirations. What are his or her goals? What does he or she want to do? If their goals have changed, your succession plan may have to as well.
  • Put succession planning on the agenda for meetings of your senior leadership team. Succession is an ongoing process. As potential leaders emerge from within your firm, the senior leadership team should be updated on plans so they know how to meets the future needs of the organization.
  • Link your talent management and development planning to your longer-term business strategy. The future is unpredictable. As your business strategy shifts, so must your talent development process.

At the mid-level of your firm, proactive succession planning leaves your organization well prepared for all contingencies and ensures a strong talent pool for your firm. At the leadership-level, the results are even more significant. It allows your firm to continually strengthen the leadership team that will support your firm’s strategy and goals well into the future.

Contact our team today at info@promoplacement.com to formalize your staffing and succession plans. There’s no time to wait. The future of your firm is too important!

The State of the Promotional Products Talent Market

The State of the Promotional Products Talent Market | 2017

The State of the Promotional Products Talent Market

Finding great people is always a challenge. However, your odds of finding and hiring great candidates are significantly increased if you have a firm understanding of the talent pool that’s available to you. In other words, knowledge is power.

Our team of sourcers and recruiters have hundreds of conversations with hiring managers and job candidates every week. To provide hiring managers and job candidates with a better understanding of the promotional product talent market, we’ve tracked these conversations over the past 12 months. The results of our analysis have provided the insights below.

If you’re planning to grow your firm and add to your team in 2017, here’s what the promotional products talent market has in store for you:



  • Within the distributor-side of our industry, executive-level job candidates are available in relative abundance. For many active job seekers, this is no doubt this is due to the large number of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place over the last several years. On the other hand, many passive job seekers are facing the challenges of ownership changes, stagnant career growth, and the increased role of millennials in many distributor-side firms.
  • Supply exceeds demand


  • Unlike the executive-level, experienced managers are in high demand. Many growing mid-tier firms are facing the need to expand their management team in 2017. Sales managers and customer service managers are especially sought after. These positions are usually reserved for experienced distributor-side managers who have held leadership positions before. Many smaller firms, most with an owner who is also the top sales producer, are seeking successful senior sales reps who can transition into a sales manager role.
  • Demand exceeds supply


  • Both marketing managers and marketing support reps aren’t in high demand as they were in 2015 and 2016. Challenges in differentiating themselves from competitors has caused many firms to move spend from the marketing department to the customer service department. The thinking here is that they are better off keeping existing customers satisfied than trying to win new customers. While demand is low, supply is also low for marketers who know and understand our industry.
  • Equilibrium


  • The talent market for distributor-side sales reps contains two very different markets. Demand has been (and always will be) very strong among distributorships with a commission compensation structure. The reason for this is simple economics. However, demand for sales reps with firms using a salary plus bonus compensation structure is low. These firms have good people on their teams and there are many lower producing commission sales reps who would jump at the change to stabilize their income with a salary.
  • Commission compensation structure – Demand exceeds supply
  • Salary plus bonus compensation structure – Supply exceeds demand

Customer Service

  • Distributors large and small are having a difficult time fully staffing their customer service teams. An increased customer-focus within many distributorships has put these job candidates at a premium. The growth of many distributorships with a commission compensation structure also adds to the demand for these candidates. Experienced, knowledgeable customer service people are very valuable in today’s talent market.
  • Demand exceeds supply

Vendor Relations/Sourcing/Merchandising

  • Vendor relations, sourcing, and merchandising professionals are sought highly after on the distributor side. There just aren’t a lot of job candidates who have strong experience in this area. Many firms facing stagnant growth and are looking to sourcing and merchandising professionals to increase profits.
  • Demand exceeds supply



  • Despite the high number of mergers and acquisitions on the supplier-side of our industry, executive-level candidates aren’t in high supply. Many of them are kept on board during mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, their backgrounds and experience make a transition outside of the industry far more likely than their distributor-side counterparts. Several firms are looking to expand or make changes to their executive team in 2017.
  • Demand exceeds supply


  • At the management-level, there are few opportunities and fewer experienced candidates. Once supplier sales reps ascend to a management-level they tend to stay put. This is caused more due to comfort with the organization than a lack of opportunities. Though the opportunities are far from plentiful.
  • Demand just barely exceeds supply


  • Marketing, long talked about as an important differentiator among suppliers appears to be coming into its prime. Over the last 6 months, more and more suppliers are putting their money where their mouth is and investing in marketing talent. Hopefully, these investments and new hires pay off. Candidates who understand the promotional product industry and the tenets of modern marketing are very rare. Suppliers may soon find themselves having to reach outside of the industry to hire young, savvy marketing talent.
  • Demand will far exceed supply within the next 12 months


  • The traditional game of supplier sales rep musical chairs has slowed down over the last 12 months. In general, sales reps are staying put longer. Additionally, there’s a significant pool of experienced sales reps who are underserved by their current supplier.
  • Supply exceeds demand

Customer Service

  • While not suffering the same sharp shortage of distributors, suppliers are adding staff to their customer service teams. Again, it’s an increased customer-focus that has brought on these new positions. Distributor sales reps are placing more and more importance (as are end-users) on communication, responsiveness, and results from suppliers.
  • Demand exceeds supply


  • Sourcing, merchandising, and purchasing professionals are in even higher demand than they are on the distributor side. The shortage of experienced job candidates is very sharp. It’s a real challenge for the suppliers looking to squeeze savings out of a more efficient supply chain.
  • Demand exceeds supply

If your firm is planning to grow in, PromoPlacement has the insight, network, and placement expertise to ensure that your team is made up of the best our industry has to offer. Contact our team at info@promoplacement.com to discuss your talent needs and business goals.