It only took 6 months in a sales job to make me realise that it wasn’t for me. I was working for a small family owned company who offered logistical supply services for the marketing industry. My job involved travelling to marketing agencies and selling my wares. The job was good experience and most of the 2009 graduates were still on the job hunt, but in many ways it was like working at Dunder Mifflin. I quickly realised that instead of visiting the young, funky agencies, I should be working for them.
Alec Browstein was a real inspiration to me. If he used adwords to get his dream job, why couldn’t I do something similar?
This realisation posed a number of problems. Firstly, I had no marketing degree. I had studied politics and given this was around graduation season, I was competing against hundred of marketing grads. Secondly, I had little marketing experience, aside from the small campaigns I had run at my previous job.
So despite having (and I don’t mind blowing my own horn here) a pretty substantial CV for a 22 year old, I realised that sending the a CV and covering letter wasn’t going to cut it. It was then that I started thinking creatively and strategically.
Through my previous job, I had a pretty good grasp of the marketing sector and knew that the major agencies were all in London. Having visited many of them, I realised that with my experience, there would be little chance of getting anywhere. Since I would be investing my time and money into this personal marketing campaign, I decided that it would be more efficient to target my hunt elsewhere.
Looking at regional agencies, I created a list of 5 that I would love to work for. These were places that I had either previously visited so liked the environment, or places where I had connections to exploit. Starting one at a time, I began with a medium sized agency in Nottingham that I knew of previously. It had good clients and a solid reputation, not to mention a cool office. I then selected my target, one of the partners who seemed from the website to be the ‘creative’ partner, as opposed to the ‘business’ partner. This would be important for my unconventional approach.
The companies homepage had a video about the organisation with vox-pops from key staff members, including my target, answering questions such as “What do you first do in the morning”. It quickly became obvious from their responses that tea was a big deal in this company. This would be my ammunition.
My campaign was taking shape, I had my target (George), the objective (to get an enjoyable job), my weapon (the offices love of tea) and my plan. The execution went like this:
1) The website.
I set up a flavors.me site. If you haven’t come across this excellent service, then it is basically a personal landing page with tools that make it easy to make a professional looking page. It pulls together your online identity into one place, such as Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook etc. I then purchased my own domain name (jamesturner.org.uk). This had the effect of immediately pushing my site to page one on Google and gave me kudos with searchers.
2) The package
Direct mail for those not in the know, is a term used in the industry for letters and packages sent to you to promote products and services. It gets a bad wrap sometimes by being branded as junkmail. It can however, be amazingly effective and beautifully executed, such as these examples and this excellent Google mailer . Since this was the industry my previous company worked in, my knowledge of the area is pretty good and without any technical skills (animation etc), this was my best route.
Using the tea idea, I got a teapot, a box, tissue paper and a small blank card. I packaged the teapot nicely and printed the card to read:
Can I pop around for tea?
On the site in a large font was a url addressed to George. On following the link, it took you too a pdf letter explaining my situation and what I was looking to do. I then posted the parcel, sat back, and waited.
A week went by and I heard nothing. Coming from a sales background however, I knew persistence was the key. I went back to the shop and brought myself some biscuits, wrapped them up with another card and this time a hard copy of the letter. Still no reply for another week. I was starting to think this wasn’t going to work so to show my social media prowess, I tweeted George and included a shortened URL to my page:
I then waited another week. I was starting to give up hope when I received an email sent through my flavors.me site:
Success! What followed was an hour-long phone conversation, a first meeting with George and eventually an excellent job offer with a part funded marketing qualification thrown in. George’s feedback was that the amount of creativity I employed got me ahead of the 30 marketing graduate CVs he received that month and didn’t even contact back. It turned out however, that what made him email me was the tweet. This showed him that I had a true grasp of the market and how important it is to integrate campaigns.
It wasn’t to be though. A friend who worked at a top London agency sent me details of an entry level position working with one of their major clients. So after all that work, I was stuck between taking the job I had spent so much time and effort into getting, or moving my life down South and working for a top London agency. It was a great position to be in, but choosing between two jobs was also incredibly hard (though a friend likened it to the deciding “whether to wear the Prada or Gucci shoes” level of problem). In the end I decided the London job was too good an opportunity to turn down.
It’s a year later and it was definitely the right decision. Working for such a big agency has given me tons of experience very quickly and my team travels all over Europe with is a bonus. London is also a great city and I have met some amazing people.
The whole experience showed me the importance of job hunting creatively to make yourself stand out. Posting teapots all over the country might be over the top but the message is clear, a CV and covering letter just doesn’t cut it in this job market. If you truly want your dream job, you better starting thinking outside the teapot.
*Special thanks go to Holly Kennedy for her excellent design skills