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Meet Jon Ryder, Who Found Work Via A Medicine Box Resume

May 28, 2014

Would a box of medicine help you get noticed, and paid?

Jon Ryder proved he was just the right copywriting remedy for creative agencies when he packaged his job skills in a box of medicine. The leaflet inside provided the perfect canvas to showcase his writing skills—with a touch of humor—describing himself as a “painkiller” used to treat “signs of over-stretched creative teams” and that he is “effective in preventing client loss”. Jon’s work is listed under “Known Interactions” on the leaflet and he even lists his parents under “Manufacturer”.

His creative approach paid off, literally, landing him a work offer in the first week week and dozens of other offers followed. Even more connections came his way after his medicine box resume popped up on prominent design blogs. Here is Jon’s inspirational story…

Story Resumes: Jon, how does your clever concept ‘tell your story’ better than a traditional resume?

Jon: Initially the idea was to approach a specific kind of client with this. I have quite a bit of experience working in healthcare marketing and wanted to appeal to new agencies in this field with some sort of direct mail. Using the ‘medication’ angle isn’t all that new, but I thought it would be a nice way of grabbing the attention of creative agencies who work in this area. The concept itself was inspired by the work of Farrow Design Studio for Spiritualized, who packaged a CD as if it was a box of tablets.

Why did I do it? Every job-hunter needs to stand out from the crowd, but for the industry I’m in, it’s essential. Who in their right mind would hire a copywriter who didn’t bother to write an eye-catching application? It’d be like hiring a tailor who wears horribly ill-fitting suits. It’s not a good sign, is it?

Story Resumes: How confident were you that agencies would contact you in response to your creative resume?

Jon: I had faith in the idea, but it’d be going too far to say I was confident I’d get responses. It turned out that I did get plenty of calls, but that wasn’t really the point. I’m a freelancer, so I wasn’t looking for an immediate job. It wasn’t make-or-break in that sense. The main aim was simply to get my name into people’s heads. The agencies I sent it to wouldn’t necessarily need a writer straightaway, but if I could send them something that they’d keep on their desk rather than chuck in the bin, then when the opportunity came up, they’d remember me. And in fact, when I spoke to those who’d received the box, many said it was still in front of them weeks later. There’s no way that would have happened with a paper CV or an emailed one.

What I would say though is that sending the box was only the first bit. I followed each one up with an email a few days later, in the same style, asking if they’d like to book an appointment with one of our consultants. And a week later, I called them too. That may sound like overkill, but one person said they’d lost the box, while another never even received it, so without the follow-ups, they’d never have heard of me.

Story Resumes: Has the response been what you expected?

Jon: The response has been fantastic. I was working for one agency just a week after the box went out and have taken on projects from three or four since then. In fact, I had to turn down some work because I’d had too many offers coming in. I sent out less than 40 boxes, but I wonder now if I should have staggered the post more. It’s a bit frustrating to successfully win work, only to have to tell these new clients that you’re too busy to do it.

However, it’s worth saying that the biggest impact was on Twitter. It only took a few design blogs to feature my medication box, and suddenly people all over the world were getting in touch. I don’t for a minute think I was a viral sensation – I made barely a ripple in the ocean of the Internet – but it was great to see visits to my site jump from a few a day to over a thousand an hour.

Story Resumes: How difficult was it to put the resume together and what kind of help did you enlist?

Jon: I wish I’d kept track of how many hours I spent on it, but all I can tell you is that it took a long, long time. A great designer from She Was Only designed the box and laid out the leaflet, then the rest was up to me. It was really difficult to find a printer who would print onto paper thin enough to match the stuff they use in real tablet boxes. I scoured London, but eventually found Ipso Print in Leeds, 200 miles away. It was worth it though. I decided it had to look as authentic as possible, and normal weight printing paper just wouldn’t have been good enough.

And then there was actually building the boxes. It was way too expensive to get the boxes ready-made, so I had to cut each one out of a flat template by hand, then assemble them individually. I’m now pretty handy with a craft knife, and I’m sure the fingertip I sliced off will grow back eventually.

Story Resumes: What would you tell other jobseekers hoping to stand out from the crowd?

Jon: It’s worth doing it properly. No matter how much effort it feels like to do something like this, and how much it costs, you only need to hit the mark once. Don’t go crazy obviously – encrusting each CV with diamonds probably isn’t a good use of your money – but in fact most ideas aren’t that tricky or expensive to pull off.

Don’t forget about the old-fashioned approach though. People may love what you’ve done, but if you don’t follow up with a phone call, you may never hear from them. At the end of the day, you probably need them more than they need you, so don’t be surprised if you’ve got to do all the chasing.

Story Resumes: Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jon, and congratulations on the success of your clever jobseeking approach!


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