In mid-July, I was being smothered by the metaphorical unemployment mosh-pit at this summer’s hottest event for recent graduates: The Post-College Job Search. It’s a chaotic cluster of potential employees scrambling atop one another in hopes of landing a career launching entry-level position. It’s claustrophobic. There’s pandemonium. You might get stepped on if you’re not careful.
Amid the pushing, shoving and ducking of the unemployment mosh-pit exists a cut-throat environment of competition. Unless you’re the guy who thinks it’s a good idea to start stage-diving (not recommended) or one of the occasional crowd-surfers (somewhat recommended), there’s little luck in standing out from the horde.
I was caught up in this mosh-pit for several weeks (an unemployment Woodstock, if you will) and although I managed to get noticed several times with a few results, I felt no different than the average mosher. So, battered and beaten by the overwhelming crowd, I decided to retreat, pick up my guitar and join the band onstage.
Us marketing majors are a unique breed. We say that “we’re creative”–a claim that’s just dripping with ambiguity, typically raises an eyebrow and always results in a follow-up “please explain” question during a job interview. Plus, it’s an even harder trait to convey on a typical paper résumé. With the job market so tough, the applicant pool heavily saturated and the hindering vagueness of my proposed creative marketing talent on a piece of paper, I realized that I might need to try something new. So to get my voice heard, I sat down and sang a tune about my skills and accomplishments.
I initially wrote the Musical Cover Letter to send out to prospective employers as a supplement to my paper résumé. Because I was looking for a job where I could exploit my creative nature and utilize my work experience with social media, I decided to develop a creative Musical Cover Letter and utilize social media networks to help its distribution. In other words, showcasing what I can do for the job that I want to do. I figured it would be like hitting two chords with one strum (okay, that joke was bad).
- The Good: The exposure was fantastic. I owe the initial success of the video to my friends on Facebook who passed it around. Soon after it was released on Youtube, my Gmail inbox was exploding with mail and I was subject to a dramatic increase in Twitter followers. In hindsight, I’m incredibly satisfied that I decided to include my Twitter name in the video– I’ve landed several job referrals and subsequent interviews from the micro-blogging tool. It’s really remarkable. Overall, the video got my name out there and bolstered my networking base, two aspects which will be worthwhile and lasting. Plus, now that I’ve got a significant audience, blogging and tweeting becomes more significant and valuable for myself in the future.
- The Bad: In a way, I lost control of the video as it began to spread. I had to try to find a happy medium between micro-fame and actually using it as a means for reaching out to employers to eventually land a job. Maybe somebody important from a marketing agency that I would kill to work for got a kick out of the movie and might consider interviewing me. But, since the video was received virally, he or she might just chuckle, pass it on or forget about it. Since I wasn’t able to express interest in this Marketing Agency by sending the video to them directly, I lose the perceived interest in applying there in the first place. Of course, I had no idea who was watching it (although Youtube Insight’s demographics informed me that I’m HUGE in Latvia and Korea) but judging by several Tweets that mentioned me, I think the video climbed up several corporate ladders. Obviously, I can’t make a music video cover letter for every company I applied for, but I can still show incentive by seeking out positions that interest me, actively apply for them and attach my Musical Cover letter as a supplement.
Altogether, it was refreshing to step out of the mosh-pit and tackle my unemployment problem from a new perspective. Inevitably, the musical cover letter has lost some steam over the past week, but it doesn’t make it ineffective in the long run. The video is still great portfolio material and a convenient example to pull out in an interview when I’m subject of the dreaded “how-are-you-creative” followup question. Although I never explicitly stated what type of job I’m looking for in my musical cover letter, I recently built my website to help ameliorate that issue.
I’ve had several interviews (both phone and face-to-face) in the past month, about half of them from positions I directly applied for and the other half from those who enjoyed my video and wanted to see what I have to offer. Several very kind people provided referrals and some folks even inquired about freelance work. With the rate I’ve been applying to positions and networking, I’m confident that I’ll have a job very soon. If not, I can always take some time off to write the off-Broadway musical, “Hired!” It shouldn’t be too difficult– besides, I already have the first song figured out.