How to ask for a job

Andrew Jenkins -

Man's picture photoshopped over a job listing

A handful of years ago, I was working for a very small agency here in the Seattle area. It was a good job, but I had a much larger company in my sights. Their focus, their culture, their pay...everything appealed to me. So I applied for a job, but like so many other job seekers, I was frustrated with no response.

Did they not like my resume? Did they even read it? There was no way to know. What I did know for sure is that my current approach, the traditional path, was not working.

The advice I read online said to re-vamp my resume with new experience, better writing and a different design; to rewrite my cover letter following a certain formula; to network like mad; and to wait for the next job posting or for one of my new connections to approach me with an opportunity. I can’t tell you how much time this wasted.

That’s not to say traditional methods of getting a job don’t work. It’s just that they didn't work well for me.

You may be thinking, “but everyone says to do those things!” In my opinion, that’s exactly why they don’t work. Getting your dream job is not just about being qualified. It’s about standing apart from the dozens (often hundreds) of other candidates who are also qualified. And if you’re doing the exact same thing as they are, you’re not standing out at all.

I decided to nix the applications altogether and try a radically different approach.

I wanted to be hired as a digital marketer, so I decided to put my skills to good use by marketing myself. Not in the way people usually mean when they use that phrase. I mean really market myself, just like I would market a business.

First, I created a basic WordPress landing page that highlighted my work experience, skills, and genuine desire to work for this incredible company. Then, I created a Facebook ad targeted to people who worked in the same company I wanted to join. When they clicked the ad, they would come to my landing page. The ad itself featured my face, with the job description in the background. I made the image simple, silly and fun so that it would attract what I really needed: attention.

A couple days after setting up my website and Facebook ad, my phone rang. Before I knew it, I was sitting in an interview. People talk, and even staff who hadn’t seen my ad on Facebook knew about it. The interviewer said that when the CEO heard about my ad and then saw it himself, HE told my interviewer, "Get this guy in here for an interview!”

In fact, the CEO was so impressed with my unique approach that he wrote an article about it and included the story in his book, Does it Work? In the article, he changed my name so as not to disclose my identity (I’m the “person we'll call Andrea”). I suppose he didn’t want me to be inundated with people asking for employment advice (ha, kidding).

Does it Work? Advice for unicorns

As I’m sure you’ve deduced by now, I got the job at my dream company. And I got it by breaking all the rules of traditional job seekers.

You may have read stories before about people using creative methods to land that perfect job, like walking around downtown with their resume on a sandwich board or mailing an employer a shoe to “get their foot in the door.” I’m guessing that most of you have never done something that radical to get a job.

Because it is radical. It’s out of the ordinary. It doesn’t feel safe like sending in a resume along with everyone else. The fear of rejection is stronger when you really put yourself out there.

Take a moment to ask yourself, “What do I really want in my next job?” Seriously, just take a moment to think about it before reading on. Better yet, write it down.

Now, on a scale of 1 to 10, how badly do you want these things (1=low, 10=high)? Why do you want them?

If you rated your desire very high, and you don't think you can get this from your current job, it might be time to think of a different position or company. Or maybe out of necessity, whether it be lack of experience or some other reason, you’re looking for a position you don’t think you’ll enjoy but that you want for other reasons. It could be as simple as having enough money to support yourself, to move to a new area, or to get away from a bad boss. What is your reason, and how important is it?

Now that you know what you want and how important it is, isn’t it worth it to go the extra mile to get it? Even just skipping out on the monotony of submitting hundreds of applications is worth it by itself.

If you’re ready to go the extra mile, I’m not going to tell you to do exactly what I did. After all, you want to show your own creativity. Here’s how you can devise your own unique method of getting hired.

  1. Write down what you want: job title, company, location…the more specific, the better.
  2. Write down the skills required for your desired position.
  3. Think of what you can do with one or more of those skills, and how you can get your work in front of your desired employer. There are many options with media; ads, billboards, snail mail, YouTube videos and your personal website are just a few ideas.
  4. Remember what you want and why you want it.
  5. Go for it! Go out and get exactly what you dreamed of.

Do this a few times and I can almost guarantee you’ll get at least one interview. With a bit of courage, you’ll have a better job, and you’ll have it faster. Imagine how you’ll feel when your interviewer says, “We’ve never seen a candidate like you. When can you start?”