Yesterday I read about Richard Millington’s alternative approach to landing an internship with Seth Godin. Basically, Richard has gone one step further than simply sending in his CV and has created a blog to showcase his talents and – not so subtly – to let the world know that he wants to work with Seth Godin.
It’s a good idea. It’s different enough to be noticed (it’s already appeared in at least one UK national newspaper) and as Richard states, it’s also a much better vehicle for communicating character and personality than a plan old CV or resume.
Will it work? Only time – and Seth Godin’s patience (erm… he did specifically ask for a 4-page PDF) – will tell.
But in the meantime, here are 5 more alternative ideas for marketing yourself to prospective employers. Ideas that are way more creative than simply sending in your CV or resume, and which could…
- uncover jobs which haven’t been advertised
- impress potential employers with your initiative
- bypass the drudge of filling in application forms
- help you feel much more positive about your jobhunting efforts!
1) Get your walking shoes on.
Knocking on doors and asking to be considered for existing or upcoming positions takes guts, make no mistake. Usually called ‘doorstepping’, it basically involves heading to a hand-picked selection of organisations, aiming directly for the HR or personnel department (or the main reception if that fails), introducing yourself, outlining the reasons why that company should interview you, then leaving your CV or resume as a calling card.
If you’re ‘doing’ several businesses in one session, plan an efficient walking route between them beforehand. And remember to dress smartly, and be polite, personable and chatty. Finally, if no-one is willing (or has the time) to listen to you there and then, try to at least make an appointment which will let you come back and have your say.
2) Mail yourself.
No, I’m not talking about buying a big old cardboard box, taping yourself up inside, then mailing yourself to the company you’ve always wanted to work for. That would just be weird. And it would probably get you arrested.
I’m talking about applying one of marketing’s most potent methods to your jobsearch and creating a piece of direct mail that sells you – and your skills. Think about it… good direct mail always stands out. It’s memorable. It makes an impact. And if the sales message is strong enough, there’s a great chance that it will work, too.
So why not take inspiration from some of the best – and most memorable – pieces of direct mail that you’ve ever received and create a direct mail ‘pack’ that sells your skills, rather than cars, holidays, whatever – and then mail it to a hand-picked selection of the people you’d like to work for.
Remember to make it personal (address it to a ‘named’ person rather than a job title), and think about what you could include. Start with a letter, and maybe design a leaflet, include a couple of business cards, a designed and printed poster, some stickers, a reply-paid envelope, etc, etc. And if you don’t have the skills or the software to design and print any of this yourself, get a designer friend to help you out, or look online for templates or ideas.
But above all, make sure your overall ‘sales’ message is strong. Do this well, and you’ll not only be remembered, you’ll leave no doubt that whoever receives it should consider you – for an interview at the very least!
3) Add value.
Most businesses try hard to add value to their services, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same when it comes to applying for a job on spec. People love receiving a little extra, whether it’s a 10% off coupon for future purchases, a unexpected free gift or just a level of customer service that totally stands out – it makes an impact and it’s very, very memorable.
You can add value to your on spec job applications by doing your research on the company you’re applying to – and then turning that research into usable ideas for new products, suggestions for new ways of working, or valuable thoughts on how customer service could be improved.
Then, incorporate all this into your application when you send it.
You’ll really need to do your homework on a company – and its customers – and you’ll need to be careful not to tread on anyone’s toes with your findings. But going the extra mile and helping make someone’s job a little easier for them could land you with a great job of your own.
4) Just ask.
Questions, questions, questions. Without them you wouldn’t get answers. And without answers to the questions you want to ask, you won’t gain the knowledge you need to get the job you want. Make sense? Good.
It’s called networking, and it can be one of the most effective job search strategies around. In its simplest form, it involves asking people to help you find a job, and asking people to recommend you to other people. It’s all about building a network of contacts, with the ultimate aim of gaining the kind of information – and reputation – that will help you get a foot in the door. Literally.
So start out by asking the people you know – family, friends, college tutors, fellow members of organisations or clubs, etc – to keep their eyes and ears open for you, and then work on increasing your network based on who they can put you in touch with.
After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
5) If all else fails…
I like this one. It’s fun. And in spite of the title, it’s not a last resort technique at all.
Heh. Not quite, but where’s the problem in sending someone a little something to get you noticed? I’m not talking thousand dollar bungs, jewellry, or Rolex watches – I’m talking quirky little gifts that will make your application, CV or resume stand out from the hundreds that you’re competing against.
So… how about sending a Starbucks voucher along with your application so the recipient can "spend 20 minutes chilling out and reading your CV over a coffee"?
Or, what about sending a voucher towards an Indian Head Massage, to "relieve the stress of having to read so many rubbish applications (present company excepted, of course)"?
Or a quirky/retro toy or bag of sweets "just to say thankyou for taking the time to read your application"?
It doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. Just keep it simple, try to give your *cough* bribe *cough* some kind of context, and keep it lighthearted and fun.
And see where it gets you!