In a competitive job market, people are proving their skills instead of just listing them.
This guy wants to work at Spotify — so he’s spent 100 hours and $700 on a personal campaign telling them so.
John Jaxheimer, 42, was worried that his resume was destined for the recycle bin if he took the traditional route of applying without someone pulling for him on the inside. He applied online in January, after all, and didn’t get a response from the company until five months later.
So when he got the call in June telling him to “keep an eye on their job board,” he decided to draw on his branding talents from working in creative marketing at Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone to catch the company’s attention. He launched his “Dear Spotify” campaign this summer, using his own money to design, print and plaster more than 100 posters (in Spotify’s font and colors) near the company’s New York office, which feature song lyrics and hidden messages telling execs why they should hire him. Call it a guerrilla resumé.
There’s still no word on whether anyone at the company noticed the ads, although they remain posted all around the area.
They do include the upside down Instagram handle @DearSpotify2018 — so even if Spotify doesn’t bite, the posters serve as a calling card for other potential employers to hire him. “Being able to work for a successful company that I also have a real affinity for is the dream,” said Jaxheimer. “The primary goal was always to land a job a Spotify. (But) if another company looks at what I’ve done and wants to talk, it would be refreshing to not have to write yet another customized cover letter, love letter — or any kind of letter, for that matter.”
He’s not the only job hunter employing extreme tactics to land the perfect gig. In fact, sending a resume in cold is referred to by management experts as “throwing paper airplanes into the galaxy,” says Wharton School management professor Peter Cappelli. You get it: Instead of 200 resumes, employers say, they want 10 they actually like, according to Wharton research. So you can see why sending a resume alone “makes applicants feel helpless,” Cappelli says.
Some creative candidates are turning to grand gestures like Jaxheimer’s campaign to get a potential employer’s attention. For example, aspiring copywriter Jade Delaney, 23, showed up at the McCann Bristol ad agency’s Manhattan office in May painted gold like the Fearless Girl statue. It worked; she’s now a full-time employee of the company with the title junior conceptual creative. Managing Director Andy Reid told AdWeek he liked that she was “brave enough to stand out from the crowd.” Jade’s takeaway to Campaign Live was that, “some doors don’t open until you kick them down.”
This guy’s Google Maps resume that shows where he’s worked around the world has landed him multiple freelance filmmaking gigs, including digital campaigns for American Express and L’Oreal. Another invented a reverse job application, which offered companies the opportunity to apply for him. It went viral after he posted it to Reddit and he landed a job in tech at an online mortgage financing site in Chicago.
Rachel Carlson, CEO and founder of Guild Education, which offers college education through employers’ tuition benefits, has a front row seat to how Fortune 500 companies staff up. She has seen the advantages of hiring employees outside the traditional resume process, like taking on interns or promoting someone internally with less experience, but a lot of drive.
“If a potential employee has the grit and persistence, but maybe not the connections, they (still) deserve a shot,” she told Moneyish. “The resume is all about telling, not showing. (So) letting someone demonstrate their abilities falls outside the resume.
“We often hire the person whose resume didn’t stand out, but whose skills and projects stand out dramatically,” she added. “My hope is we’re in a world where what you’ve done in the past isn’t the only indicator of your future success.”
Workplace expert and author Dan Schawbel also suggests going the extra step when applying for a job — as long as you keep it positive.
“It’s all about standing out in a competitive job market,” he says. “Anything you can do that differentiates you will be effective as long as it’s not in a negative light.” (For instance repeatedly emailing the hiring manager, or showing up at your potential boss’s house, are things you really do not want to do.)
One shows your creativity, the other just shows you’re insane, Schawbel stresses. He says that a general rule for knowing the difference is, if your plan is truly “inventive” (and not annoying or stalkerish), then you’re probably OK.
Genuine creatives will always stand out, he adds.
In Jaxheimer’s case with Spotify, Schawbel says visual evidence of a job you can do — like printing posters in Spotify’s aesthetic — should show a potential employer that not only are you experienced, but you genuinely understand the company.
“Someone who put an enormous amount of time into getting a job at a specific company has figured out what companies they really want to work for — and should have their efforts noticed,” he said.
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