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How hard is it to jump into a marketing career with little experience? Very. Unless you are Ian Greenleigh, who beat the odds and secured his dream job in marketing in just a few short weeks.
How did he do it? With a Facebook ad.
His unconventional ‘resume’ and job search approach also propelled his career in social media and content creation as an author and speaker and he has been featured in a number of big-name tech and business media, including Mashable, Adweek, and Harvard Business Review. Here is Ian’s inspirational story…
Story Resumes: Ian, what was it about a Facebook ad that appealed to you more than another unconventional resume approach?
Ian: I had read about the Facebook ad approach on Bad Pitch Blogand it seemed to be working for the guy they were profiling, Grant Turck. The PR industry is really difficult to break into, so I figured if it was working for someone starting out in that space it could work for someone like me, in marketing.
Story Resumes: How confident were you that your Facebook ad resume would work?
Ian: On a confidence scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 1. It still seemed too good to be true. We’re mentally conditioned to think of loopholes like this as short-lived—kind of “flukes”. So, I wasn’t holding out for it to work. But I’ll tell you this: as soon as I tried it, I felt better. Even though I didn’t think it was going to work, it felt like I was taking a step in the right direction. I didn’t have a Plan B, other than to continue all the “tried and true” tactics that were failing me.
Story Resumes: How long were you expecting the process to take?
Ian: Very surprised. I don’t recall having any specific timeline in my head, but I certainly didn’t think it was going to be so quick.
Story Resumes: How many employers did you target, and how many interview requests and/or job offers did you receive?
Ian: I used two targeting methods. In the first, I targeted people that worked at specific employers. I don’t remember exactly how many I tried, but Bazaarvoice was one of less than a dozen, I think. The second method targeted people who had put things like “VP of Marketing,” “CEO,” and “CMO” in their Facebook bios. So, I’m not sure how many companies that version reached.
Altogether, I got about a dozen signals of interest from employers. That includes interview requests, consulting inquiries, and of course, offers. Only a few of them were outright; most people wanted to talk to me first before offering me work, and I certainly don’t blame them—that’s how it should be.
Story Resumes: Were you surprised at how many employers reached out to you, given your limited experience?
Ian: Yes. I didn’t expect so many employers to be open to talking with someone with so little on-paper experience. I felt like that would happen in a real meritocracy, and not in the harsh reality of early-career job searches. But to their credit, many employers respected my initiative and creativity and thought that it qualified me for at least an interview.
Story Resumes: Would you share with us some other examples of how social media has positively impacted your career and personal brand?
Ian: Here’s a very recent one: I led a webinar about a month ago about social media and the PR industry, which went really well. I wanted to leverage that success into speaking about the topic in front of live audiences, so I made a list of PR conferences to approach. One of them seemed perfect for me, so the first thing I did was head to an online tool named Followerwonk and search Twitter bios for anyone who worked for the company organizing the conference. One of the people I found was an event organizer, so really the ideal person to reach out to. I pinged her with a tweet; something like, “I have an idea for a presentation at [conference name] and I’d love to share it with you.” She replied, and we set up a call. It looks like it’s going to happen, and it may be the most high-profile speaking gig I’ve done yet.
Story Resumes: What are some ways that jobseekers, even those with no or small social media networks, can get themselves noticed?
Ian: Two things that are hard to ignore: usefulness and criticism.
Make yourself useful through social media. Connect people. Provide needed information. Become a source for the best content in your field by curating others’ perspectives and sharing them with the world.
Challenge ideas through constructive criticism. If you want to get someone to notice you, it’s not all about agreeing with everything they say! Be willing to disagree and explain why. That’s hard to ignore when it’s done respectfully. Try it in a blog comment, tweets, or even write a full blog post that discusses where you and the person in question disagree.
Story Resumes: Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ian, and fingers crossed you secure that conference gig!
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