A few weeks ago, TropicalMBA posted the opportunity of a lifetime. After four Skype interviews, I was offered the product marketing position, and come middle of September, I will be living in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) working with the talented team at TropicalMBA. I couldn’t be more excited and I can’t wait to work my ass off.
The job posting got an overwhelmingly positive response and Dan wrote some tips to help future applicants on how to get their dream job. Dan gives some excellent advice and I wanted to share my experience in applying to my dream job.
It was an average Friday afternoon, the office was a little slow and on my lunch break I was surfing my favorite blogs and catching up on my ever growing email subscriptions.
I saw an email from TropicalMBA saying they were hiring. After reading the job description, I knew I had to apply. It was the last day to submit your application, so I rushed home and got to work.
How did I get hired?
To be successful in any pursuit, you have to understand the playing field. When applying to a job, this means reading the job posting very carefully. Read it through a couple of times to get a full understanding of what the company needs and follow their instructions to the T. Nothing disqualifies a candidate faster than blatant incompetence.
Beyond that, here are a few things you can do to increase your chances.
You only have one chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.
To apply for the position, we had to make a 2:00 max Youtube video explaining why we would be a good fit.
I figured most people would submit a video from their laptop in their room explaining how awesome they were. I saw this as an opportunity to be different. I wanted to get their attention right from the get go.
I took my laptop onto the roof of my building and filmed my submission with Boston in the background. I also scripted a somewhat corny intro in which I referenced all the books that have fueled my entrepreneurial education.
I did this to show that I read the same books and have the same passion for business and learning.
Making a connection with people and relating to them is the best way to cultivate a relationship.
Most people probably titled their videos “TropicalMBA Submission: John Smith.”
I titled my submission “BOOYA! The Most Important Video You Will Watch All Day.” What better way to demonstrate my skills in product marketing than to market myself.
“Flattery will get you everywhere” but you have to be sincere and genuine. When it comes from an authentic place, flattery shows your admiration and desire.
I wrote a personal note to Dan in the Youtube video description. This allowed me to say more than what was in the video.
Push the limits:
Don’t be afraid to bend the rules. It shows that you can take risks and seize opportunities. The maximum length for the Youtube video was 2:00. I deliberately made mine 2:40 to court attention and fit more value into my application.
Your job isn’t done once you apply. You need to engage the company and the people in it. Leverage everything you can to get on the radar. It is easier than ever in today’s world with social media. Get on Twitter and tweet at the company, post on their blog, send them an email. Reach out to people they know and engage them.
This goes for the interviews as well, always send a thank you email. Is there a way you can get creative and stand out with this? Definitely! It’s up to you to figure out what makes sense.
I did all of these things, but I actually could have done more. There’s a fine line between being professional and motivated and being a crazed fan who doesn’t know when to stop so make sure to be tactful. Remember your interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you so don’t be needy.
This advice goes for regular job listings as well.
Most companies don’t ask you to make a Youtube video, but there are still ways to stand out, be creative and add a personal touch. The first impression may be the cover letter. You can highly target your cover letter towards the hiring manager, company, and/or position. A good cover letter can make all the difference.
Submitting your resume offers some interesting opportunities too. For instance, I remember someone telling me that they would fax in their resume because most offices rarely get faxes anymore so when one comes people are curious and pay attention.
Go beyond and send a personalized, hand-written thank you letter to the hiring manager. I saw someone do this in the restaurant I worked at in college thanking my manager for taking the time, but she was offered a position somewhere else. “What an amazing person” I thought to myself.
You can view my submission video below:
Admittedly, the quality of the video is bad, but that just goes to show that content is king. If you are providing good and interesting content you can get pretty far.
View it on Youtube to see the personal note I wrote in the description.
There is a lot of great advice online about how to interview so I’m not going to go into depth with it here. Everyone is different and in general you want to play to your strengths. However, I do want to highlight a few things that I think get overlooked.
Each day I knew I had an interview I made sure to be calm and relaxed. I went to the gym after work and I would come home and cook dinner because eating well is important in performing well. Then I would spend an hour preparing, going over the job description, the different aspects of the company, and researching the person I was interviewing with.
In the hour right before the interview, I made sure I had a strong internet connection, Skype’s video and audio was working correctly, and there would be no interruptions from my roommates.
I also dressed in professional attire. I was probably overdressed, but I wanted them to know I meant business. Moreover, I ran mock interviews with my friends to prepare myself.
If I didn’t get the job, it wasn’t going to be because I wasn’t prepared.
Some of this may seem basic or obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t take the time to properly prepare themselves. Nothing ruins the flow of an interview more than a lost internet connection.
Be Your Best Self: (The best you is pure and authentic)
In my mock interviews, I realized there was a lot that I could say, but not a lot that I wanted to say. My friend pointed out to me that I was the most interesting when I was speaking about business and learning because my passion came across.
I realized that giving the best answer in an interview isn’t as important as it is to be authentic. Being yourself and showing the interviewer who you are and what drives you is what’s going to make a lasting impression.
Think about it from the company’s point of view. Hiring is a big deal and a stressful process. There’s usually a large pool of talent and qualified people and there is a lot of pressure to find the right fit for the company.
You can drive yourself in circles evaluating people on their different qualifications and hiring metrics, but in the end, it comes down to who do you want to work with. Who do you trust to get the job done and have a good attitude? These can be hard qualities to ascertain in a standard interview. It is your job to show the interviewer who you are.
Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity.
That’s it. Hard work and preparation motivated by passion and desire. I was fortunate enough to get my dream job. Now go out there and make it happen for you.
If you haven’t yet, go and read How to Get Your Dream Job on TropicalMBA.
Until next time,
P.S. If anyone is living in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) I’ll be out there mid September. I’d love to meet and grab coffee! Leave a message in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org