I despise job searching. During the summer of 2015 I was laid off and must have sent my resume to 200 companies up and down the Front Range and around the world. After 4 months I started to lose hope. At month #5 I was struck by inspiration.
That summer was one of self-reflection and improvement. I went to yoga every day – since I didn’t have anything better to do. As a result, I lost 20 lbs! (Don’t worry. My desk job has caused me to gain it all back.) I also had plenty of time to volunteer with local dog rescues – a cause that I take very seriously.
Around month #5 two interesting job listings came on the market for Denver-area companies.
One was for Sports Authority (RIP), working on their website’s customer experience. Since I’d lost a ton of weight recently and now lived in yoga pants, Sports Authority had become a favorite spot to loiter and the role seemed very enticing.
The second was at Kong – the company that makes those red cone-shaped dog toys. They have “office dogs” and employees get all sorts of dog-related perks. What self-respecting, crazy dog-lady wouldn’t want a job there?!
I had applied to both companies multiple times already, without so much as a phone screen with HR. Resumes were not working. My online portfolio got clicks, but not enough. I had to do something different – make myself stand out. I was a marketer for crying out loud! Certainly I could come up with something brilliant.
I thought about my experience. What is something I could do to get their attention and highlight my strengths? And then it hit me. I will build a website specifically to show them how much I want to work there!
Okay, that’s not exactly true.
My (now) husband sent me an article about a girl who wanted to work for AirBnB so badly that she did a special project and built an entire website to deliver it to them. AirBnb was so impressed that she got an interview.
I thought, “I could do that!”
And I did. I made each of them a custom WordPress website to talk specifically about how much their companies meant to me.
I talked about my weight loss journey to Sports Authority and included before & after photos.
I also talked about ways I thought they could improve their website and what I was seeing in the market.
I told Kong about my lifelong devotion to their product lines and included photos of my dog, Delilah, playing with their toys.
I also included a section on how I thought Kong could improve by targeting the millennial market more effectively.
It was aggressive and heart felt. I put it all out there, desperate to make an impression… and it worked.
What actually happened
I tweeted, emailed, facebooked, and LinkedIn’d (that’s a verb, right?) both websites directly to their respective companies. Somehow someone was going to see them.
Kong actually picked up the phone and called me. Although they did not want to bring me in for an interview (they wanted someone more senior), the VP of Marketing did apparently see the website and was extremely impressed. I will note that I was shocked they didn’t at least bring me in to meet me, but they politely said they’d keep my resume on file in case something more appropriate became open in the future. Blah, blah, blah…
Sports Authority, however, did bring me in for an interview. They were so impressed with the website that they sent it to the recruiter managing the account, who phone screened me. When she was satisfied I wasn’t a crazy person, I was actually brought in for a face-to-face interview with real hiring managers at their physical headquarters.
It was obvious that the team was taken aback by me and my unexpected website application. It definitely made an impression. Someone let it slip that they were going to give the position to someone internally, but when they saw my website they had to meet me first.
Long story short, I didn’t get the job. In honesty I wasn’t quite right for that job either. But I got in the door and that was the whole point.
As marketers, we spend a lot of time thinking about pipeline development and how to increase opportunity volume. In a way job searching is very similar. The more opportunities in the funnel, the more likely you are to get a job. But first you have to get in the door. And sometimes that requires a degree of creativity and willingness to go above and beyond.
In case you’re worried, I did eventually find a great job – and it only took 6 months.