Case study: How one blog post helped me get a job in social media

Antonia Harler is a friend from the {grow} community who blogged and tweeted about her challenges finding a job in social media marketing. And then, it finally happened! She has been gracious to write this post about what it’s like finding a first job these days …

Getting a job is tough. Especially when you are fresh out of university and faced with a recession. And that’s why I’m here today. I’m here to tell you the story of what a job hunt is like right now and how a blog post changed my life!

I graduated in September 2010 with a diploma in Management, Communications & IT. My choice of studies was probably wrong in many ways for social media marketing but had some advantages, too.  Facing the job market as well as the strong competition was daunting. It scared me and I didn’t know where to start. I only knew I wanted to work in digital Marketing/PR in London but had no idea of how to go about it. How do you find a dream job in London when you are based in Austria?

I decided I just needed to go there so I booked a flight in October to spend two weeks job hunting. While I met many nice people and practiced my interview skills, I returned to Austria empty-handed. So many people were telling me “You should just look for a job here. It’s your home after all.” Their doubts started to eat at me. I asked myself many questions. Was I doing the right thing? Should I settle?

Luckily, I’m a stubborn character.  I just had this picture of myself working in London in my head and I wasn’t ready to dismiss it quite yet. I held onto that image despite the doubts creeping up inside of me. And on one Saturday evening after a couple of glasses of wine (trust me, if you are job hunting, you sometimes need those!) I decided to be more pro-active. CVs aren’t working anymore. They are faceless and hundreds end up on every employer’s desk.

That’s when I wrote the blog post that changed my life. I wrote from my heart and told people that I am worth hiring!  I had built up a meaningful social network and I reached out to them to help get the word out.  People like Mark Schaefer, Danny Brown, Stacey Hood, Shelly Kramer, and Kyle Lacy. Chris Brogan and Scott Monty also helped out.  In total I sent 20 Emails to people around the world. I explained my situation and asked for help. I needed my story to spread. It was a long shot, but I had nothing to lose.

Amazingly, all 20 people were happy to help. They spread the word or helped in other ways and before I knew it the post had been viewed over a thousand times by people all over the world. My inbox became flooded with emails from total strangers offering me jobs or simply telling me how much they loved the idea.  I soon started working part time for a social media agency in Manchester.  A month later Adam Vincenzini contacted me on Twitter to offer me a job I really wanted. And here I am now, happily employed at Paratus Communications, working with kick ass clients and learning from an extremely smart Australian.

It took me nearly four months to find a job. While it felt like an eternity, in retrospect, it’s nothing.  I know there are many people who suffer far more.

In the end, the doubts, the tears, the constant explaining about why I want what I want was worth it.  I didn’t choose the easy way out and settle.

And even now that I’m employed, I put a lot of pressure on myself. After all, I made my job search very public. A lot of people know about it, a lot of people helped and the last thing I want is to disappoint any one (especially my employer).

So, what advice can I give to all the people still looking for a job?

Be creative — We are still battling the recession. Companies have a ton of applicants to choose from and if you don’t differentiate yourself from all the others, you won’t be successful.

Use the power of social media — Forums and comment sections of blogs are an important way to network.  Make sure to be active and treat Twitter, Facebook and all the rest like it’s your job. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. A while ago I wrote a post for Kyle Lacy: “6 ways to get noticed by people on Twitter” In my job search, I lived and breathed my own advice and built wonderful relationships. Leverage the opportunities the social web has to offer.

Ask for help — People will surprise you with their willingness to help. I know they surprised me and I couldn’t be more thankful. At the end of the day, their help and kindness helped me reach my goal.

Blog!I put an exclamation mark behind blogging because I never thought it would be *this* important to employers. But it is. If you apply for a job in social media, people will Google you. They will stalk your Facebook and Twitter and they will want to find a blog. The social web is all about content creation. Always remember that.

Be pro-activeShow initiative. Be persistent. Keep thinking of ways to draw attention to yourself. Start thinking of yourself as a “brand”. Simply showing up to an interview doesn’t demonstrate drive or passion nor does it add anything valuable to your mission.

Be patient & don’t give up! — Hold on to what you want and keep fighting, even though times are hard.  I know, it’s easier said than done and more often than not you’ll have to overcome your own fears but it will pay off.

Antonia Harler holds a degree in Management, Communications & IT and works as a social media strategist at Paratus Communications. For more information about Antonia, visit her blog, follow her on Twitter @antoniaharler or join her on Facebook

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  • Great story. Thanks for sharing and good luck Antonia.

  • Always great to hear about your story Antonia! i did tweet about it too!!! 🙂
    Congrats and all the best! You’ll rock the social media world!

  • Antonia – This is outstanding. And very inspiring. I’m in the same boat. I’m looking for a new opportunity, and you have given me some ideas.

    Mark – My appreciation for you willingness to share and show continues to grow.

  • Anonymous

    A fantastic story and example of how to be creative in a competitive space. Thanks you both for sharing this story with us!

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  • Gratulierung, Antonia! Ich hab etwas ähnlich zweimal mit Erfolg getan aber ohne Beziehungen mit Mark, Brogan, usw. 😉 I have to say that I’m a bit jealous of that point of your story.

    Nice choice for a guest post, Mark.

  • Aw Aaron, you are such a sweetheart 😉 Thank you!

  • Thanks so much, Johnny 😉

  • Oh Paul, I hope you find something soon. The possibilities of social media are endless 😉 If you need any help please let me know! 🙂

  • Thank you for your comment Laura! I have to thank Mark for letting me share my story 😉

  • Thanks so much Eric! I have been really lucky when it comes to my relationships in the online space and people were more than willing to help. I couldn’t be more thankful for all their help. 🙂

  • Great story. I have talked with a couple of the people you mentioned. You really had an enlightened group in your corner. But beyond that, I think your commitment to the process and keeping your grand vision in your minds eye also was a major factor.

    Some people sacrifice their dreams because they hit a wall. Its true, you have to know when to cut free of something that is not meant to be…but if you know in your heart that you’re heading in the right direction…no matter how difficult the path…you will succeed.

    Thanks for sharing the story. You’re one of the good ones…pass it on!

  • Paul, we’re all in this together. Of course we all need to help each other. Let me know what I can do too.

  • Anonymous

    This has to the best most inspiring thing I’ve read all week. First off, congrats on landing in your dream job. This just shows the amazing power of social media and what a blog can do for you. When I hear stories like yours and then bschool students at my alma mater complain about the market, I tend to feel a bit less sympathetic. Really cool stuff.

  • These are tips I’ll keep in mind. You give me hope =)

    I’m graduating in 3 months and have no clue where to start looking for a job with social media!

  • Srinirao, thanks for your comment. Very happy you liked the post! I’m very glad about how things have gone but to be honest there was a lot of doubt in the process. I can relate to complaining about the market because the market is in fact bad but to be perfectly honest, you can only complain so much. I’d rather do something than complain and luckily it worked out for me 🙂

  • Andrew, I really did have the support of many awesome people (the list is longer than the one mentioned above!) and to be honest, they made the entire thing so much easier. Whether it was by building me up when I was down or just offering to help in whatever way they could.

    When it comes to pursuing your dreams I think it’s important to just do it instead of overthinking it and then not doing it. However, every dream has an expiry date and knowing when pursuing your dreams becomes less heroic and all the more unrealistic is important. (And BTW, you are one of the good ones too 😉

  • Calvin,

    Good luck on your search. 🙂 If you need any tips pop over to my blog and send me an Email. Happy to help.

  • Grats on the job. I too came out of college during a recession. It really sucks because studies show it impacts our long term earnings. One thing I would change which I would recommend to you. Be loyal to your employer in terms of kicking ass with your job and working hard and taking pride. But don’t be so loyal to not look at better income opportunities should they come along. If you stay somewhere 3 years and leave you are not a job hopper. I stayed in 2 places for a total of 12 years and regret it. Both I stayed 2 years too long!

  • Really interesting issue. We definitely live in an era of short-term loyalty, or perhaps no loyalty at all. When I graduated I looked for a job in a company offered financial security and opportunities for personal and long-term financial growth. My son “That never crossed my mind Dad.”

  • So kind of you to pay it forward Antonia! Calvin, I would also recommend three things to anybody looking for a job: 1) Get serious about LinkedIn. Work it. Connect. 2) Leverage Twitter as a networking tool. Read this, it will help guaranteed: 3) As Antonia emphasizes, BLOG. It’s like extending your job interview. Don;t just tell them what you can do — SHOW them through a blog.

  • Howie, I think I’m naturally very loyal to employers as well as people in my private life. I tend to put my own needs/wishes on the back burner as I don’t want to let anyone down. However, I need to change that and learn how to turn things around a little bit. It’s a process I’m working on. Yet, I’m also a big believer in happiness over money. It’s important to me to be able to live a comfortable life BUT being happy with the job I do and the people I work with/the atmosphere it happens in just as important. I don’t think I could work somewhere for a ton more money but be miserable. For now I’m very happy where I’m at and hope that won’t change anytime soon. At the same time I hope that my employers are just as happy 😉

  • Marlene Franke

    Congratulations Antonia. Your new employer is lucky to have such a creative and ambitious woman.

  • This also cover Mark’s response. Its a 3% compounded annually ‘penalty’ because in recession we take less money as a starting point. It’s is even bigger with my degree Finance. During boom times investment banks, brokerages etc are hiring. During recessions like when I came out I went into B2B sales and my first job was a crappy one. Using today’s money imagine making $30k out of college in a recession or a business having to pay you $50k because they lack workers to hire.

    And you will find as time goes on you might be very loyal to a company, but business is cold blooded. Anything can happen. My friend is a Banker and very loyal and worked 8 years for a private bank. His bank was bought by Wachovia in 2002 who had a group that also did Junk Bond investing. While my friend’s group was a top 20% performer for the industry, the new owners had a top 5% group. So they laid off all 15 people in that group. I have seen employees get no raises for two years because of hard business times only to be let go.

    My point is look after yourself while maintaining a high level of ethics and integrity. And yes job satisfaction is very key. And I wasn’t saying start looking for a new job today. Just giving you long term career advice.

  • Antonia, Congrats to you and your lucky-to-have-you new employer. The best part of this story is how hard you worked for this, you didn’t wait for a job to come to you. Instead you were really social: went out, introduced yourself, made contacts, put yourself out there via your blog, Twitter. Asking for help is sometimes the hardest, not just for new grads but anyone struggling in this current economy. Congrats again.

  • Anonymous

    Mark… you had me at {grow} ! lol

    Congrats Antonia nicely done. Big message here start within your circle of influence or connections. Your contacts. Work the contacts!

  • I agree with you on that. Definitely. Loyalty goes only so far and yes, sadly, business is cold blooded and very cruel at times. I value my integrity more than anything and would hate to turn into a cold hearted business woman. But of course my loyalty goes only that far.. I think that goes for every person. What intrigues me very much about Paratus Cooms, where I work now, is talking to the people who are working there. Most of them have been there for years and years which says a lot about the company. They must be doing something right for the employees to stick around for that long which makes me think that I made the right decision. 🙂

    And not to worry, I know what you meant. I value your advice. 🙂

  • Marlene, thanks so much 🙂 REally appreciate it.

  • Aw thank you so much! 🙂

  • Davina, thanks so much. Reading your comments is always such a pleasure. Very glad we’ve met (virutally) 😉

  • Passion is contagious! Enthusiasm, priceless. Those are key qualities any employer would be drawn to in a candidate. Yes, you gotta want it! When you have that vision, it allows you to see opportunities….and endure….and do what ever it takes to live the life you dream of. Congrats for sharing your story and living life by example. Best wishes to you and your new employer.

  • Love it love it love it…talk about being creative, a go getter and confident. Thanks for sharing Mark and Antonia.

  • Love it, love it, love it… about drive and creativity. Thanks for sharing Mark and Antonia!

  • Aw thanks Natasha! Glad you like it 😉

  • Thanks Brenda! So sweet of you to say. 🙂

  • Talk about being proactive! Congrats! I love reading these kinds of stories.

  • Deirdre

    Thank you for sharing! This was very inspirational for me as a current job seeker!

  • Deirdre, glad you liked it! Let me know if I can be of any help 😉

  • Brittany, thanks so much 🙂 Appreciate it!

  • Fahmi_nas

    Congrats Antonia! Great stuff. So there is hope for a SM job out there huh?? 🙂

  • Well Hello my long lost sista’ from anotha’ motha’ lol 😉

    Antonia as you know, I just love this inspiring story of yours. And it’s great that you found a job with a working environment that you’re happy and comfortable in.

    Perseverance, creativity, authenticity and charisma go a long way in Social Media and life in general, and it’s clear that you possess all these traits and more. Good for you!

    Should I ever need a new job, I’ll be borrowing your clever method ;)!


  • hahaha, steal away sweetheart 😉

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  • Great post Antonia. It’s always good to read a success story so that others can see that there are paths one can take using social media to get their desired results (which might be growing their career.) Congrats on the new job and best of luck!

  • Thanks so much 🙂 Glad you liked the post!

  • Kenny Rose

    A great story. I live in Manchester. I don’t know the company Antonia works for but she must have done an impressive job because it is very difficult to find employment in Manchester at the moment. One of the main reasons why I am now self employed. Really enjoyed reading this post. I love reading inspirational stories about people pouring their hearts and efforts into this space. I have learned so much in such a short space of time just because I opened a Twitter account amazing. May be I need to re-think my strategy and start to get more creative about where I am headed and what I am doing. Another great post. Every time I come to this blog it is a real experience. Thanks Antonia and of course thanks to you Mark for doing all the great work you do.

  • Kenny, thank you so much for your kind words. I think one of the main reasons I actually got to this point was my determination not to give up. Self employment does sound appealing to me but not just yet. Maybe further down the line. I still have so much to learn before I’d even think about it. 🙂 Keep on coming back to this blog. Mark is amazing and he always shares really great stuff. It’s always worth 10 minutes of the day. 🙂

  • This is a very interesting blog and a great innovative way to get a job; I don’t want a job but may try it to get a column in a magazine! Thanks…

  • Cool. Thanks Mike!

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  • Ayan_jama

    This post totally gave me hope that my social networking efforts will pay off. So far, I have been mildly successful in getting internships and local jobs from Twitter but am nervous that it will not work once I transition from a college student to a real-life professional. I am happy that you were able to put down your guard and the craziness and reach out for help. That is something I had not thought of before and have already started putting calls in to various people I know who have “real” connections. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Great Ayan! Good luck!

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  • Thank you for sharing your story. Here in Australia I’m finding it not-so-easy to find a permanent full time role. However, after starting to really put myself out there through LinkedIn, Twitter and a new blog, I managed to secure an online marketing position. It’s a start, I do this after my day job which has almost nothing to do with marketing! In the meantime, I study for my diploma in marketing and continue to develop my skills through my online marketing job while I continue to write and expose myself more online. I’m going to read your original post, and look forward to putting some of your ideas to use. Cheers again, brave one! 🙂

  • How wonderful! I am printing this out and taping it to my wall! Congratulations, and please know how encouraging this is for so many recent Graduates (like myself). I am equally as amazed with your creativity for blog post without a job in the first place, and keeping it so relevant! 

  • Glad this was helpful!

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  • I like what you’re saying about adding personality. Many career coaches are downright afraid of their clients being anywhere except on LinkedIn. On the other hand I think blogging is a great way to show your flair and personality. When I’m hiring I want to see what the person is really like and that they’re plugged in to current events. The best way to know that is by reading their blog or twitter. Çek Kanunu”

  • I like what you’re saying about adding personality. Many career coaches are downright afraid of their clients being anywhere except on LinkedIn. On the other hand I think blogging is a great way to show your flair and personality. When I’m hiring I want to see what the person is really like and that they’re plugged in to current events. The best way to know that is by reading their blog or twitter. Çek Kanunu”

  • Johann P

    Love the article! Much Much inspiration!

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