How to get noticed when you're 22 and want a huge, high-profile job.

 

When a friend told Lindsay Blackwell that the University of Michigan was looking for its very first social media director, her heart nearly stopped.

(It did. She told me so. I am not exaggerating.)

Why did her heart nearly stop?

Because for this insanely smart and ambitious 22-year-old, a 2010 U-M graduate herself? The newly created position represents the perfect job.

"I couldn't have cooked up a more perfect opportunity in my head if I tried," she said. "It's like a dream job times a thousand."

She knew she must apply.

But how do you compete for a 90K director level job, when you're a 22-year-old recent graduate?

Lindsay knew that, without a doubt, she'd be competing with dozens (or hundreds) of heavy-hitting marketing and social media leaders. People who sit in big, high-powered strategy meetings, guide teams, shape direction.

Marketing muckety mucks, if you will.

She knew she'd need to be a freaking standout if she had a snowball's chance with this one.

And so, rather than submit her resume and cover letter through the university's online application tool and call it a day (which is what so many, many people do -- and then wonder why no one calls), Lindsay pulled out the stops.

She crafted and launched a blog and full-scale viral marketing campaign to catch the attention of Lisa Rudgers, the school official who will ultimately make the hiring decision.

You can check out the campaign here:  DearLisaRudgers.com.

I know, are you kidding me?

It's brilliant.

When I first heard about Lindsay and saw her site, I nearly stood up at my desk and applauded. It's not just catchy, it's THOUGHTFUL. It's strategic. It speaks directly to why she wants this position, and what's in it for Lisa Ridgers should she hire Lindsay.

When I spoke with Lindsay? I became convinced that this girl will be a star. Whether she lands the U-M social media director gig or not, Lindsay Blackwell will be a star.

And here is why:

 

  1. She refuses to accept the notion of "too young" or "too inexperienced" in pursuing her dream job.
  2. She "gets" that i'ts not about telling a potential employer what YOU want, it's about showcasing (in her case, very creatively) what's in it for them should they hire you. Show, don't tell.
  3. She's strategic. This campaign is not something she threw together on a whim. She built an entire strategy around it and executed its delivery to a specific plan.
  4. She's a hell of a nice, engaging young woman.

 

Her campaign? Has captured Lisa Rudgers' attention, along with more than 15,000 other visitors and multiple media interviews. In the space of five weeks.

And while the verdict is still out over whether or not Lindsay Blackwell will be interviewed for the position? She has proven how impactful a creative, memorable approach can be for a job seeker, particularly if she's a non-obvious candidate for that position.

Lindsay's advice to people considering how to advance their careers and improve upon their job search strategies?

"Dream as big as you possibly want to. If you're imagining something you want to do? There's no reason you can't live the story you dream about. There's absolutely no reason to limit yourself and not pursue it."

Stay tuned... Lindsay Blackwell's story continues to unfold.

Lindsay Blackwell is a social media strategist based in Ann Arbor, MI. Blackwell earned her degree in English and Linguistics from the University of Michigan, with a focus on advertising rhetoric and new media marketing. She currently serves as Marketing Manager for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter (@linguangst).

Photo contributed by Lindsay Blackwell