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Targeting the Right Employer


SlideRocket presentation screenshot

A screenshot of Hanna Phan's SlideRocket presentation that landed her her dream job.


Looking for a job, especially when you're unemployed, can be a tedious and frustrating affair. Most people post their resumes on websites like Monster.com and spend hour after hour browsing want ads, going through online application forms, and following up with phone calls. Too often, the results are uninspiring at best.

Seth Godin is one person who recommends a different approach, especially if you are looking for your dream job. In his blog post, "Why Bother Having a Resume," Godin summarizes a resume in one sentence "here are the facts about me, please put me in the pile." He urges readers to use extraordinary letters of recommendation, projects and even a blog to entice people to want to hire you.

Hanna Phan and SlideRocket

Today, Hanna Phan is the Product Manager at SlideRocket, an online presentation software service based in San Francisco. In 2011, she was a self-employed consultant in Vancouver, Canada.

When she first started searching for a new job, she used the typical "firehose" method of job searching -- sending her resume to just about everyone who was looking for someone with her skills. This included searching job websites, Craigslist and LinkedIn, tweaking her resume for each position and submitting it.

The result, she said made her anxious and uncertain of herself.

"I had a lot of unsuccessful callbacks and interviews that didn't go well," she said in a telephone interview. "A lot of times I could tell it wasn't going very well because I wasn't really interested in it."

Inspired in part by Seth Godin's advice, Phan tossed her resume and began looking for her dream job. Instead of looking for companies who might be hiring someone with her skills, she began listing the companies she could be passionate about. SlideRocket made the top of that list. She researched the company, it's hiring process and began following the company CEO, Chuck Dietrich on Twitter.

Phan immersed herself in designing a presentation that would illustrate who she was, what she was about, and why she wanted to work at SlideRocket. Using the company's own presentation software, she designed what she calls a "présumé," which is like a teaser rather than a list of her credentials. She spent two weeks working on her présumé, and then a third week tweaking it. She then sent a link to her presentation to Chuck Dietrich on Twitter.

"I want to change the world one presentation at a time," her presentation read.

What followed is still a matter of public record in the Twitter archives. Dietrich, who had been on a plane at the time, tweeted her back an hour after getting the link: "@hannaphan @sliderocket AMAZING Preso! Let's talk."

A screenshot from her presentation is displayed above. The full presentation is posted on the SlideRocket blog.

Other Approaches

For those thinking of taking a similar approach, SlideRocket now has resume and présumé templates on its website.

"You have to know your audience," Phan advised, explaining that an online presentation may not be right for every person or every employer. She knows of others who have found their dream jobs by using YouTube videos, and even someone who sent a FedEx package containing games to a new employer.

In 2010, Alec Brownstein was inspired for a new way to get himself noticed by employers while searching for his own name in Google. He realized that if he searched for his own name in Google, then others probably did too.

Brownstein bought Google AdWords ads, targeting the names of the creative directors he wanted to work for. Because no one else was targeting these names, his cost was a paltry 15-cents per click. The ads read: "Hey, [creative director's name]: Goooogling [sic] yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too"

The ads were linked to his own website. Brownstein's entire campaign cost him only $6. Brownstein called this his "Google Job Experiment" and posted a video about it on YouTube.

A Word of Caution

Getting yourself noticed in itself is not always helpful. It's important to remember there is a difference between good attention and bad attention. Some job seekers believe taking a spam approach with hiring managers will make their names stand out. Daily emails -- or worse, daily phone calls -- are not likely to be well-received.

In one example of exuberance gone wrong, one network administrator decided that if he could prove an organization needed his services, they would be more likely to hire him. After hacking into an organization's internal network, he left a document on the manager's desktop announcing that he could help them fix their security problems. The next morning, instead of getting a call for an interview, he received a visit from federal authorities

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