In the middle of a desperate dream job search, which has been one of many, I signed up for a panel discussion with editors who had highly coveted positions. These editors were going to share their career success tips and provide some guidance. I showed up with a legal pad and pen, ready to notate any ounce of wisdom they could pass on.
Not only did the panelists have jobs anyone would want, they also held positions in very prestigious entertainment companies.
The host asked them questions on how they started in the industry, what skills were needed to obtain a job like theirs and what programs they used.
They calmly explained with great detail how a day in their work life played out. I jotted everything down. Every word was important. I was hoping if they didn’t get to the question I was burning to know, I would have a chance during the Q&A session.
Finally, the host asked them how they obtained their positions — the most important question of them all.
Whenever you read job search tips, it is always noted reaching out to the hiring manager will improve your chances of obtaining an interview. But most jobs now use an online submission platform and discourage reaching out to the employer via phone.
I’ve tried and have been directed back to a website by administrative staff and automated systems alike.
Finding out how they stood out from the crowd and were even able to interview for their positions was important to me.
One of the panelists had actually obtained her job through a referral from an editor who was sitting on the other side of the panel. The rest claimed they had obtained their interviews from colleagues who worked at the establishments they were interested in joining.
However, one very ambitious panelist admitted her methods of obtaining the jobs she had in her career were nontraditional and always bordered on improper.
She explained that when she had submitted her resume for her previous job, she resorted to mild internet stalking to get her interview, after not receiving any word.
She located the name of the actual manager the position reported to. Although she couldn’t find his email or social media contacts, she found his wife’s email was available and contacted her instead.
His wife forwarded the information to him and he called her. After a few minutes on the phone, she had an interview scheduled without ever having to try to figure out who the hiring manager was.
This could have gone wrong in so many ways. She was lucky that when she admitted what she had done during the interview, he saw her actions as ambitious and not crazy.
But when she saw her current position at an entertainment company listed on a job search, she did it all over again.
Only this time, she found the name of the director and was able to decipher his email from Googling the email format for the company. She even found his contact number and called him after she sent the email. This landed her an interview and then the job.
I also wrote this down, but never imagined I could ever be bold enough to follow through with it. That is until I saw a job that could be my foot in the door to an entertainment TV channel.
I submitted a resume online, and after a few days, I remembered the panelist and her bold moves, and decided I had nothing to lose.
The job post noted the position would report to the director of a very specific department. I took this information and searched LinkedIn by department within the TV channel company.
It only took me five minutes to find the director’s name. Then I resorted to Google to find the format for the company’s email. I also found the main number to the company and located his direct extension, by using the directory that lets you search phone numbers by first and last name.
And just like that, I had become the biggest stalker in a scenario not related to dating. I emailed my resume with a quaint letter apologizing for the boldness and expressing my enthusiasm, hoping that it wouldn’t scream of stalker and inappropriateness.
After a week, I called him at the office and left him a voice message to follow up. Another week passed and I sent him an email with a follow-up voicemail. After three weeks had passed, I left it alone. I never received any response.
Maybe I wasn’t what he was looking for or he didn’t like that I reached out to him directly, but either way, I don’t regret it.
No one has ever gotten a job from being too shy to step out of their comfort zone. I’ve had enough of my resumes ignored to know that sometimes you have to try something different just to see if this time it will work.
Even with the obvious rejection, the possibility of me trying this again is high. That panelist gave me the best career advice of my life.