Around New Years I was talking to a friend of mine who was, at the time, looking for her first full time job out of college. She, like many of my peers, was having a rough time landing a job in her chosen field (it happens to be advertising) or even something somewhat related.
I asked her this question: What sets you apart from all the other applicants? She couldn’t immediately think of an answer, but in her defence it is a hard question if you have never though about it before. It is probably the hardest question a company will ever ask you without even asking you. Confused? I have never been asked this in an interview and yet it is probably the single most important you not only need to answer but need to convey to the interviewer without ever even being asked. Whether it sticks out on your resumé or is conveyed in an answer you provide or simply how you conduct yourself, you need to set yourself apart.
I’ve said that this is hard to do, but I think it is even harder in advertising. Some of the most creative people are in advertising and you are up against them. In school I heard stories about people swooning the secretary or having a well thought out item delivered to the office of the company they were interviewing with. Some of the stories were pretty interesting, but this is a new one for me:
Essentially, some guy bought the adwords for the individuals who he wanted to interview with, hoped that they saw themselves when they Googled their names, and eventually thought that this idea was so ingenious that they would have to hire him.
I think it is a great use of a very current technology and something that hasn’t really been done before. At first I questioned whether or not these people would be Googling themselves. Then I remembered I probably do this about once a month.
It is a pretty clever method and will probably be copied now. It has been done, think of your own thing. And for the record… what sets me apart? I wont go into my entire answer, but it involves me being a jack of all trades.
UPDATE: Apparently someone is doing this with Facebook now. At least he chose a somewhat different medium.