Originally posted on Quora in July 2014.
I've done quite a few different things to set myself apart in the job search. Main reasons why:
Jan 2013, I just graduated from uni. Being a recent grad = lack of experience, or at least for potential employers it seemed that way;
I didn't have Australian citizenship or permanent residency. This renders me not legible to apply for about 95% of the job openings;
English is my second language;
I have an "exotic" sounding name - clearly non Anglo;
My chosen field is marketing and advertising. To put it simply, all things being equal, if I was a young, loud, type-A, white Australian male, I would be much more likely to get a job in this industry;
So there're tons of handicaps.
On a different note:
Why not do something different? I enjoy being creative and coming up with new ideas;
I believe that job hunting should be strategic and targeted;
I believe that a marketer should demonstrate how to market herself;
If the issue is that a new grad doesn't have enough experience, I will create my own experience.
Below are some of the things I did, in chronological order:
1) I created a website to answer a job ad (that I wasn't really eligible for).
a screenshot of the site I designed and released, all within 24 hours. You can also see a cached version at Hire me, RMIT.
it was for a communications position that was on offer for Australian / NZ citizens only;
the website I developed broke down their key selection criteria and why I would be a good match;
I prepared the content and designed the site, launched it, promoted it on social media, and reached out directly to RMIT;
The reception was good: I got hundreds of emails, messages, shares, retweets. Without me asking, people were passing the story along to their contacts in the creative industry. I got more followers and contacts;
RMIT never got back to me;
I set up about 5 interviews with people who've heard of my name through this self-promotion campaign.
2) I delivered a Valentine's Day package to the company in person.
You can view a cached version detailing this campaign at Could Kim Be The One
This time, I targeted 9 Melbourne-based marketing agencies;
I went on planning and executing a full marketing campaign (the whole 9 yards of market research, discovering insights, translating it to an actionable plan, executing it, running A/B testing, analysing analytics, promoting on Facebook Ads,..);
Fun fact: I drew the graphics for the interactive Flash mini-game. Yep. I made it interactive. We even made a funny video on how good I was at literally everything;
It was around February so I took Valentine's Day as the occasion. The idea is: "First love is the hardest to forget - Young, impressionable grads will work their ass off for you." (maybe not in those exact words, haha). I knocked on the door of these 9 agencies, gave them a present nicely boxed (it has my resume, my marketing plan, and some expensive chocolate). The website is the online platform that explains my campaign & it features an interactive game where people can choose whether or not they want to speak to me - horrendous things will happen to the earth if they don't ..
I got an interview with 5 out of 9 agencies, on top of about 7 more meetings with other onlookers;
The campaign attracted a healthy amount of buzz and I also gained real experience of running ads and writing strategic plans.
3) I made my own business cards and distribute them at meetings.
This actually got me a job.
I hand these out at informational interviews and job interviews. The point is, each card has a tip for staying stress-free (it is an important soft skill for the kind of job that I want) and hopefully people will keep these (because they are useful, sort of) or become interested in what the other tips are (there are about 7 versions of this).
It's always a hoot and it was a really smart decision to have my own business card.
At a company that I went to for a job interview, they called me back after 2 months, out of the blue. It was later explained to me that they kept the card out of amusement. It was just lying around, and whenever the CEO came into the office he would pick it up and played with it, and one day he said "We should invite this girl back for an interview". I came back for a second interview, and this time they offered me a job.
Here's a blog post on it: Kimmology • Also, on the topic of business cards, mine just...
4) I drew a cartoon in response to a "hello, we think you are quite interesting" message from the agency I love.
A recruiter who worked at a creative agency reached out to me, mentioning that I had been brought to their attention as a potential new hire in 2013;
I responded immediately with a cartoon I drew just for them - imgur: the simple image sharer - to emphasise how thrilled I was;
According to him, this tripled their interest in me. I later got an interview with their Strategy/Planning team, and an informal meeting with the Head of Strategy.
I didn't get a job at this agency, but it was an opportunity that I was very thankful for. I thought the main reason was that it just wasn't the right timing, and that I wasn't experienced enough to present myself as the best candidate, a "must-hire".
5) When asked to submit a case study of a project I led, I made sure the deck looked like their website.
one slide out of the case study
I thought it was a nice wink wink nudge nudge ;)
and it definitely said out loud "I customised this specifically for you, because I care."
BONUS FOR YOU: Other not-so-conventional things I do in my job search that you could steal:
Advanced Search on Twitter. I keep track of phrases such as "we're hiring" and filter it down to nearby tweets and tweets from people in my industry. I cannot stress how excellent the results have been;
Be extremely strategic in how you use social media. I am an accomplished Internet lurker. I use this to my advantage and stalk the hell out of anyone who is interviewing me. I also use social media to showcase my capabilities on relevant networks, reach out to people for advice and coffee chats, and advanced-filter job openings. I gain on average 4-5 interview offers a week and a job offer every 2 weeks, all from the relationships I've nurtured through social media;
Do your research, the smart way. If I'm going to an interview, I will Google the hell out of [insert names of senior leadership people in that company] and ["keynote", "speeches", "strategy", "seminar",..] --> this never fails to show me what the strategic direction of that company is and what the decision-makers think are important;
Work for free if need be. Do not complain about the whole catch-22 of "no job, no experience; no experience, no job". I take on consulting gigs and work pro bono for NGOs I believe in. These stunts give me real work experience;
Be selective. I'm not the only one being assessed at job interviews. I also assess the company. If it's not the right fit, if the job does not give me what I need, I'm out. Sure, it's important to be employed. But it's more important to be employed by a company you love and respect.
Eh.. I keep doing strange things in my job search, so I'll come back and edit this entry again soon, probably.
In the meantime, if you want to work with me or think that I will be well suited for a particular place, feel free to let me know!