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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

Careers clinic: How some graduates use innovative ‘campaigns’ to land a job

Multimedia campaigns, networking events, online pitches and a ‘Hire Me’ t-shirt: David Wogan decided to treat his job search as a mass-marketing project.

David Wogan with his 'Hire Me!' t-shirt: all part of his bid to market himself as a brand.
David Wogan with his 'Hire Me!' t-shirt: all part of his bid to market himself as a brand.
Image: David Wogan

INNOVATIVE JOB-SEARCHING campaigns are becoming a focus in the jobs market.

Getting noticed is now the major challenge and that’s why we are now working with an increasing number of clients at SliNuaCareers.com building their own personal brand websites, making YouTube videos, and the like. This is particularly the case in certain sectors such as marketing and public relations, but it extends beyond those sectors too. Job-seekers need to be thinking more imaginatively about how they are going to attract the right kind of attention to themselves.

Just last month, TheJournal.ie highlighted the story of Commerce graduate Jordan McDonnell who put together a very alternative CV in order to get himself noticed in the competitive marketing sector. Last year, an unusual billboard ad taken out by Féilim Mac An Iomaire – dubbing himself ‘Jobless Paddy’ - landed him a role within the Paddy Power company.

This is another interesting take on the job search ‘campaign’ approach. David Wogan outlines how he is working to attract the right kind of attention to himself and hopefully land his dream job.

The “Get David Wogan a Job” Campaign

I was on the verge of graduating from Dublin City University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, Innovation & Technology in May 2011 when – wham! – Cupid’s arrow struck a bull’s eye. Miranda, from the US, wasn’t so much pretty, as drop dead gorgeous, and I tumbled like the proverbial tonne of bricks. Better yet, she felt the same way. But, there was one problem – Miranda was returning to the US at the end of the semester to finish her studies at Boston University.

What to do? Join her in the US of course. Besides, I’d been planning to do some travelling once I graduated anyway. Getting a job wouldn’t be a problem either. I had my degree and plenty of professional experience. While studying at DCU, I’d gained valuable insights into the corporate financial world by working at State Street and Cornmarket Financial Group. After graduation, I became an active member of the Irish start-up community and developed a marketing plan for a local start-up business BandBidder.com. Plus, I’d interned at the DCU Ryan Academy for
Entrepreneurship.

In September 2011, with all this knowledge, experience, and potential packed up in a suitcase, along with a 12 month J-1 visa, I felt more than ready to showcase my skills to another side of the world. But this was as nothing compared to how I felt when I arrived. Much like Miranda, Boston’s charm and energy made me feel alive. The pride Bostonians exhibit for their city was refreshing, invigorating and infectious. Despite the
economic downturn, I still feel this ‘can-do’ attitude among the people I meet there today.

I arrived in the US not knowing anyone professionally and set about job hunting straight away. Unfortunately, sending out numerous resumes to potential employers yielded few encouraging results. Boston is a town filled with universities and it soon became clear that competition for jobs was intense and I had to stand out in order to succeed.

I figured I needed a better way to channel my energies and started looking for business networking events where I could connect with local, influential leaders face-to-face and promote myself. After joining the Irish American Business Network and attending the Ideas Boston conference, I began connecting with dozens of professionals in person and on LinkedIn. These connections led me to discover a unique networking event on a public train called the Innovation Express, which ended at the Venture Café in the Cambridge Innovation Center.

The Venture Café brings together Boston’s entrepreneurs in an informal café style setting through weekly networking events. The scale of creative resources and open minds in this co-working space astounded me. It was at this point that I knew I wanted to work directly with this melting pot of intelligence in this Center.

After attending the Venture Café for several weeks and networking my heart out, I was introduced to Alexis Lewalle, the CEO and Founder of Zaffon.com, an online necktie store. I then spent six weeks working with Alexis in the Cambridge Innovation Center assisting in the development of an online necktie store from a business concept into a fully functioning website. Although this experience was short-lived, it was exhilarating and intensely informative. The feeling of creating something out of nothing, and seeing it take off, was phenomenal.

After this up-close exposure to the entrepreneurial mindset, it made logical sense for me to treat my own job search much the same way a CEO would treat a start-up company.

My job search became an entity that I constantly cultivated in order to spread the word. The efforts of my campaign included a LinkedIn Group that currently has 76 members, a promotional website, an About.me page, a promotional YouTube video, a rhyming pitch, and a HubSpot job application video.

I also customised a “Hire Me” t-shirt to act as a walking advertisement for myself wherever I went. My next employer could be anywhere.

The biggest high of this campaign has been my “HubSpot: One Question” YouTube video that has attracted 1,719 views to date. The video shows me walking to the headquarters of HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company, holding up various signs to convey my love of the company and its own unique marketing methods.



(via David Wogan/Youtube)

When I arrive, I get down on one knee and ask one single question: Hire me? The senior recruiter at HubSpot loved my approach to job hunting and introduced me to my two heroes in marketing: Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the co-founders of HubSpot.

Dharmesh Shah even tweeted about my video as it circulated among HubSpot employees saying: “I love when people use creative approaches to applying for a job. See this video now being circulated @HubSpot http://dharme.sh/MrdwUz”

Better yet, HubSpot offered to interview me later in the year for their new office opening in Dublin in 2013, but I’m still in discussions with them and Miranda about this opportunity.

My aim from the beginning was to secure company sponsorship through a H1B visa but what I discovered over the past year is that many companies only sponsor candidates with a speciality skill, such as a computer programming language. The decreasing availability of funding and visas are two main contributing factors to this. Basically, there are so many US graduates competing for the same entry level positions that it’s tough for companies to justify the cost of investing in sponsorship for entry positions.

This major obstacle was my motivation to deliver more value than local candidates through my job campaign, so companies could justify my sponsorship through a H1B visa.

Ultimately however, and despite all my best efforts, I found it impossible to get a permanent job. That said, the past year has been a fabulous learning curve for me. It forced me to find myself and exercise my creative capacity in such a short time. My self-branding mass marketing campaign has created a lot of attention among the top-tier marketers in Boston. I have been morphed into a more confident, motivated and driven marketer myself and gained a great deal of social intelligence.

I now know that I want to start a career in social media and use inbound marketing tactics to further this aim.

So what’s next?

Currently, I am trying to define myself as an ‘Inbound Job Seeker’ and my plan is to build my self-brand every day by continuing with my “Get David Wogan a Job” campaign. My other aim is to gain experience in a search marketing or social media role. Miranda and I are planning to move to Toronto in September when my US visa expires, but Boston is our long-term destination.

While I’m in Canada, I plan to continue applying to jobs in the US and to obtain a H1B visa. Any connection that I make now may benefit me in the future.

I am considering every connection that I make now as a long-term relationship and am excited about discovering what Toronto holds in store for me in the meantime.

Liam Horan of www.SliNuaCareers.com is TheJournal.ie’s resident careers writer. To obtain your free Career Resource Pack from Sli Nua Careers, simply go here. Sli Nua Careers have offices in Dublin, Galway and Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, and provide CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services.

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