Last summer, Alex Brownstein decided to advance his career. He had a job as a copywriter at ad firm Publicis, but he really wanted to work at “a really creative shop for really creative [creative directors].” Rather than follow the usual route of updating his resume, sending it to the human resources departments of other ad firms and hoping that they had an opening, Alex took a route that gave him direct access to the people he most wanted to speak to.
In a move that also showed off his creativity, Alex identified the creative directors he wanted to work for and bought AdWords ads for their names. When the creative directors Googled themselves, the top result was an ad that said: “Hey, [creative director’s name]: Goooogling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too.” The ad linked to his website, alecbrownstein.com.
Brownstein targeted a total of five creative directors, received interviews from four and job offers from two. He now works as a senior copywriter for Ian Reichenthal at Young & Rubicam’s office. The entire search cost a total of $6. Had he mailed in his resume, he would probably have spent more on postage.
Caught in the Act of Googling Themselves
Brownstein’s approach had several advantages. He was able to put his name and his skills directly in front of the people he most wanted to target. By addressing those people by name, he showed that he knew the industry and was familiar with their work. By using an original strategy, he demonstrated the very creativity that he was selling. And by intruding at a time when the creative directors were Googling themselves, he was also showing that he understood human behavior and how to use it for effect — an important feature for an advertising copywriter.
As a model for other career-minded types to copy though, it has its challenges. Not everyone knows the names of the people who are most likely to employ them, and not all industries are as public with the identities of their key personnel as the advertising industry is. Nor are those personnel likely to Google themselves as often as advertising people might. Brownstein got the idea for the approach after Googling himself, something he told Mashable that he does with “embarrassing” frequency. Marketing manager Karl Sakas estimates that it took Brownstein about six months to land his job. Hopefuls seeking employment in industries staffed with more modest types might have to wait even longer.
But it worked, it cost little and for jobseekers looking for specific positions but who aren’t desperate for immediate change, there’s no reason it won’t work again.
Who Wants to Work for Microsoft?
Google isn’t the only place that creative jobseekers have been advertising their skills though. Even before Brownstein was interrupting the private browsing moments of some of New York’s top ad people, a man called “Eric” was promoting himself on Facebook. He took out an ad that included his picture, a headline that stated “I want to be at [company]”, and text that read “Hi, My name is Eric and my dream is to work for [company]. I’m an MBA/MFA with a strong media background. Can you help me? Please click!” The companies he targeted were Microsoft, YouTube, Netflix, Apple and IDEO.
Despite the difficulty of believing that anyone actually dreams of working for Microsoft, Eric did receive plenty of offers of help from Redmond employees offering LinkedIn connections, the addresses of recruiters, and the job descriptions of specific roles in their division to apply for.
Eric chose Facebook, he says, “because it was unconventional, cheap, highly targeted and offered solid performance metrics.” He was able to limit the ads so that they were seen by people employed at the companies he was targeting, and the keywording would have made sure that a manager at Microsoft didn’t see that he was also dreaming of working for YouTube. The whole process took about half an hour, cost less than $50 and resulted in more than 50,000 impressions and more than 500 clicks. It’s not clear though whether the leads produced a job offer.
This is a very different approach to that used by Alex Brownstein. Brownstein was hoping to land one of a number of specific positions that could only be offered by one of a number of specific individuals. Eric’s approach was broader. He was looking for “help” rather than a job, something that more people can provide, even though it won’t lead directly to the end goal.
The best approach of all then might be to combine the two: use Facebook ads to generate information about individual employers; then use that information to offer Google ads that put your online resume in front of them… eventually.
There is a third method that you can use though. When Web marketer Larry Dinsmore found himself out of work, he went for a scattergun approach that should put even Eric to shame. At one point, he simply opened the Yellow Pages, started at A and worked his way through the listings, emailing his resume to every business with a website. He even thought of printing a stack of resumes and handing them out like flyers. Fortunately, he had a better idea. He printed the words “Damn, I need a job!” on the front of a t-shirt, and placed a short cover letter on the back.
“Put something about yourself on your shirt and not only will they read it they will strain to see it,” he writes on his site damnineedajob.com. “They will position themselves for a better look. Stand in line at a fast food joint and at any given moment someone will be checking it out. I’m telling you people can’t help it.”
There’s no indication that Larry’s approach worked any better than Eric’s but the efficacy of turning yourself into a human billboard will depend on where you choose to stand. It’s the kind of strategy that’s more likely to work at a convention than in line at a fast food joint — unless your dream job is to flip burgers.
Whatever kind of job you’re looking for, creativity is going to be an important part of staying ahead of the pack. That applies to the way you search as much as the contents of your resumé.