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inding a job in marketing can be a tiring and perplexing pursuit. A job candidate may spend years racking up an impressive resume and ultimately slip through the cracks. While there is no sure-fire cure for this dilemma, job-hunting marketers may want to rethink their reliance on traditional approaches and consider viewing the chase from a marketing standpoint. Specifically, they should focus on marketing themselves to employers as proven professionals who are prepared to bring real value to a department or team. Consider the experiences of several individuals who witnessed the power of this approach firsthand.
In 2010, Nina Mufleh wrapped up a successful 10-year marketing communications career in the Middle East to seek her fortune in the mecca of tech: San Francisco. After working with Fortune 500 companies and even the Queen of Jordan herself, Mufleh was ready for a change in scenery. She chronicled this transition in an editorial for the Harvard Business Review.
“I knew it would be a challenge to restart my career in a new market … [but] as a few months turned into a year and I saw no signs of progress, I reached a point of panic.”
Mufleh had spent countless hours researching potential employers, drafting tailor-made resumes and building her network on and offline. After all of that, she hadn’t had a single interview. “How could a career that ranged from working with royalty to Fortune 500 brands and startups not pique the curiosity of any hiring managers?” Mufleh wrote.
After a year of toiling in the hiring machine, Mufleh finally adjusted her strategy. “Instead of thinking as a job applicant, I had to think of myself as a product and identify ways to create demand around hiring me.” Mufleh decided to refocus her efforts to demonstrate that she could provide real value to an organization. She set her sights on Airbnb, conducted extensive market research and compiled a report on the potential for the company’s expansion into the Middle East.
Mufleh published her report in a tweet and tagged Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and other executives. According to her, “Within hours of releasing the report, a recruiter from Airbnb reached out to me to schedule an interview. Within a few days, I had interviews with many of the area’s top tech companies.”
Oscar and Kristina’s Story
Months away from graduating Miami Ad School, aspiring art directors Oscar Gierup and Kristina Samsonova were looking to line up jobs with big-name advertising agencies. Since neither were interested in becoming part of a giant stack of identical-looking applications, they decided to use what they had learned about advertising to take matters into their own hands.
“Reaching the right people using the agency emails feels nearly impossible,” said Gierup. “But with the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity coming up, we saw our chance to get seen.”
The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is the largest advertising conference in the world, with tens of thousands of registrants—most of them advertising professionals and many of them from prestigious agencies. The conference takes place every June in Cannes, France.
Since the two couldn’t afford the trip to France, they found another way to get the attention of top-tier advertisers, while also demonstrating the value they could bring to an agency. “… We created a series of sponsored Facebook ads to get our portfolios in front of some of the industry’s biggest names. The ads were geo-targeted to run in Cannes, so only people in the area were able to see them. We also filtered it to specifically target people working in advertising or related fields,” Gierup said in a joint report about the campaign.
As a result, Gierup and Samsonova only spent $120 and received more than 2,000 unique portfolio views—all of them presumably by potential employers. Additionally, their advertising escapade received coverage in major industry publications, including Adweek, complete with links to their portfolios. Shortly after the campaign, each student accepted an offer with an agency in Europe.
Stop applying. Start thinking.
It’s easy for a hiring manager to overlook a resume, cover letter or application that may blend in with numerous similar-looking submissions. It’s far more difficult to ignore an applicant who sidesteps protocol and provides bona fide proof of his or her value. It’s time marketers embraced this approach and started applying their industry skills to the job hunt.
Written by Cody Humphreys.