Photo: Jack Keene
I recently got a job as a contributor for a site* that, to put it simply, reviews men’s gear. Everything from clothes and tech gadgets to liquor and outdoor gear. I’m a huge fan of the site, and one day they posted an opening so I applied. I’ve talked about my gear obsession before, so this job opportunity was really exciting.
Problem was, I didn’t have any experience doing gear reviews, and I didn’t live in New York – something that was a significant advantage in the job posting. Here’s how I worked around those obstacles to land an interview and, ultimately, the job.
This is probably the most common problem I hear about from job seekers. Employers want experienced applicants, they don’t have it, so they’re screwed, right? No – I’ve written about ways to bridge the experience gap when you don’t have any, and that’s exactly what I did.
Use What You Have
I have a blog, so I started there. I also write for Brazen Careerist (here’s my latest post), so I used that too. The site where I was applying is one that reviews high-end men’s gear so writing about careers isn’t a natural fit. But it is something, and it shows I can and do write for a large audience.
After submitting my cover letter and resume (more on these in future posts), I sent an additional email. It said, “Rather than claim I can write awesome reviews, I thought I’d show you.” I linked to a private review on my blog that I did just for my job application (background research revealed that this organization hates attachments, so having a blog to post my sample review on was huge. Another reason you should start a blog now). My review looked, sounded, and felt EXACTLY like their site. I wanted them to read it thinking they could be looking at their own site.
Now I’d shown them I could write about gear. No one needed to give me permission (see point no. 4) to write in the form of a job or paid gig, I just did it. And it worked. During my interview the editor told me specifically that my sample review, which was not required or even mentioned on the job posting, was a big part of what got me the interview.
Next time I’ll talk about packaging and how to turn your disadvantages into advantages.
* It’s probably not a big deal, but I’m omitting the name of the publication just in case they don’t want to be listed.