Career Network for student Scientists and Postdocs at Yale

Creating a platform for discussion of scientific careers

Think Outside the Box

Throughout life we are taught that there are certain ways of doing things. This is how you tie your shoes. This is how you treat others. This is how you apply to graduate school. This is how you write a resume and submit a job application. Etc.

However, sometimes these standard methods of accomplishing goals have to be challenged because they don’t work anymore. While there may still only be one way to apply to graduate school – i.e., submit an application via the website – this is not necessarily the case for job hunting.

Yes, there is still a website or a link from which you can submit a job application, but as we’ve discussed countless times here on the CNSPY blog, submitting a resume into the black hole of online job application sites is truly a shot in the dark. Networking, however, can greatly increase the chances of having your resume make it to the top of the pile of the hundreds submitted. This is one way to beat the system.

This is precisely why networking is so important. If you simply applied for the job as per protocol, you’d never get seen amidst the pile of many, many, many equally qualified candidates. In this regard, networking is a way of thinking outside the box. It’s a way to get around the system and directly get in touch with the people you are trying to reach.

However, networking is a very simplistic example of “thinking outside the box,” and sometimes networking isn’t enough. Despite our best efforts, we may still fall short of reaching our desired contacts. So what do we do? Sometimes we have to think further outside the box.

The further outside the box our efforts are, the more likely they are to get noticed and thereby get us noticed.

This week’s blog post features a girl named Nina Mufleh who used a very non-traditional route to secure a position at her target company. She wanted to work for Airbnb, but her countless job applications to the company were all met with silence or rejection. Considering that she had moved from the Middle East to San Francisco and gave up a great job working for the Queen of Jordan to come work at Airbnb, she wasn’t going to give up so easily.

So she got creative.

She created a website where she posted not only her resume, but also what she saw as the company’s strengths and weaknesses, highlighting areas that she felt the company could grow substantially. In building her website, she mimicked the style and formatting of the Airbnb website to “speak their language” and organized all of her thoughts for growth and improvement in a series of Powerpoint slides that she posted directly on the front page of the website. The conclusion slides to her website presentation identified why she belonged at Airbnb and exactly how she could help move the company forward in these new directions given her background.

Once the website was completed, she then used Twitter and social media to put this website presentation right in front of the CEO’s face. She tweeted the link at him, and his curiosity got the better of him. He clicked on the link, started reading, and was very impressed!

She was later called in for an interview.

See her creative resume on her website and read the Twitter conversation that got her the interview she was after here.

Although her resume and presentation looks as though it took her a long time to put together, she admits that it only took her about a week to gather all the research and make the short 12-slide presentation. Then she had a friend and former colleague help her set up the website itself. So it really wasn’t THAT much additional work – she would have done that same research anyway prior to a job interview to make sure she was prepared.

Her creative attempts to think outside the box caught the attention of not only the people she was trying to reach, but also those at other companies. Uber and LinkedIn also noticed this stunning resume and report and called her in for interviews to join their marketing departments. Read more about this here.

This highly innovative strategy showcased her abilities and put her resume in front of countless people. Less than two weeks after her tweet, her website had over half a million hits and the resume itself had been viewed 14,000+ times. This is insane when we think about how we’re usually hoping one person sees our resume once when we submit a job application online!

Clearly her unique strategy worked, and not only did she land the interview she wanted, she also received a number of other interviews with competing companies, which turned the tables. She was no longer seeking out one company; many companies were now seeking out one person – her! Talk about negotiation power! As a result, she ended up getting a much better job than she had ever bargained for with Upwork.

This story is obviously one in a million, but it highlights that thinking outside the box and using the tools at your disposal can help you beat the system. The goal in any job search is to stand out. Nina clearly stood out amongst the rest not only for her unique approach, but also because she clearly displayed talents that others likely didn’t have, which made her a very desirable hire.

The goal of today’s post isn’t to encourage you to launch a similar campaign in order to secure your next position – although you could certainly go that route if you wish. The point we’re making here today is that you shouldn’t be afraid to think – and then step – outside the box to get your application materials in front of the right people. Following protocols may work for your Western blots, but it won’t necessarily work for your job search because the online application process is largely a broken and dysfunctional system.

As a scientist, you are inherently creative and think of news ways to achieve goals all the time. All you need to do is learn how to apply this creativity to your job search strategy to help you stand out as the best candidate and get noticed by the people who make the hiring decisions at your desired company. So start thinking!


** Share your thoughts on other creative ways to get noticed! **

Share your thoughts below by clicking the “Leave a Reply” link or by clicking the chat bubble in the top right of the post.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment

  1. Product packaging in Melbourne

    October 10, 2017 at 12:28 am

    Thank you for sharing your article the content are great and informative, hope to see more of this in the near future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.