Emile Hesky vs. The London SEM Market

‘What has Emile Hesky got in common with the London SEM market?’ I hear you ask.


Good question.

Emile’s in his 16th year as a professional footballer and is now playing for his sixth different domestic club. In footballing terms, he’s a job hopper. He’s had a good career on the whole, but nobody really loves him (sorry Emile – I’m sure your mother does). Compare this to Ryan Giggs. He’s spent the last 23 years with the same club. He’s part of the club – completely intrinsic.

But who’s had the better career? Let’s look at the stats:

Hesky’s now worth £14m and now makes around £65,000 a week (certainly no pittance but a lot less than he commanded back in his Liverpool heyday). Giggs is worth £33m and makes £80,000 a week (a continual upwards trend).

What’s this got to to with the London SEM market though (as if you haven’t already guessed)? Well I’ll tell you – over the years we’ve bred a market full of Emile Heskys. There – I said it.

We can’t all be Ryan Giggs (believe me – when I was younger I tried for nearly a week and it didn’t work, no matter how hard I squeezed and strained). Emile’s built his career by making smart moves – career moves. As long as someone wanted to sign him, he had a job.

It’s a bit like that in search. There’s a lot of demand for people in the market, so there’s always a little more money to be made – always someone who’ll want you to play for their club. It’s pretty normal for people to move jobs every one or two years in this market – I’ve got used to it being this way now and only realise how weird it is when I talk to someone in a different sector. The fact is, it’s normally financially better for candidates to go that it is for them to stay.

What’s best for your career and what’s going to pay the most short term are not the same thing though. I’ve seen people make one hop too many and suddenly that one hop too many means getting any job is tough. Have seen people take more junior roles and salary cuts to get back in (just ask Emile). Does anyone remember the bong game on Capital Radio back in the 80s?* Well it’s a bit like that. Sooner or later, your luck runs out.

It’d be wildly unfair to blame the employees entirely though – a lot of the responsibility lies with the employers. Salary is often equated with value and we need to feel valued when we’re working for someone – that’s normal. If you’re feeling underpaid and someone’s prepared to pay you more elsewhere, it’s going to turn your head. Perhaps employers do need to do more to show their staff that they’re valued and have genuine prospects to develop. (Plus, it’s expensive to recruit and train a new employee, so it makes sense).

A lot of the senior figures and leaders in the digital market share a similar trait – they’re not driven chiefly by money, but by how much they can influence, how much they can learn and develop – they’re worth more in the long run this way. It’s a bit like the tortoise and the hare* and maybe that’s a good place to draw things back together – Giggs certainly has the pace of a tortoise these days and Hesky spends a lot of time on the floor which makes him a bit like a hare.

* A short apology for the number of analogies in this blog, no analogies were harmed in the writing of this blog.