The importance of standing out in the job market

Back in February we started the search for two more designers to join the Campaign Monitor team. Initially we took the same approach we’ve used in the past; add the roles to our Jobs section, mention them in our blog and newsletter and spread the word across our network. We’d also post them on a targeted job board like Authentic Jobs—which has worked well in the past—and briefly chat to some recruiters we trust.

This, I imagine, is the approach taken by most companies. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. So here’s my theory on why it often doesn’t - we’re looking for standout people, but the truth is that most standout people never make it to the job market. They’re not looking for a job. They’re being paid well and doing interesting work somewhere else, or they’re freelancing and have potential clients lining up at their door.

Let’s do something different

If the kind of designers we want to find aren’t looking for a job, we needed another way to get these roles on their radar. Eventually we decided the best way to do that would be to create something worth sharing. Something designers would find interesting that they just might share with their peers.

A mini-site worth sharing

Drawing inspiration from the gorgeous Nike Better World and Best of 2010 site by Dave Gamache, we built a parallax-based single page site to promote the two roles and share a little about what it’s like working for Campaign Monitor.

Our hiring site

Targeted banner ads

Hiring banner adWe regularly advertise on a number of design-related ad networks like The Deck, Fusion Ads and Dribbble. For a couple of weeks we switched our usual promotions to focus on driving more designers to the hiring page.

Jesse, who was the brains behind the design of the landing page also added a screenshot of his work to Dribbble, where it made it to the Popular page for a few days.

The difference a little effort can make

Google Analytics screenshotWithin 24 hours, our hiring page received more than 20,000 visitors. By the end of the week, that doubled to more than 40,000 different people who had checked it out.

The site also received more than 900 mentions on Twitter, driving close to 5,000 visitors in the first few days. To top it off, a number of high profile designers had some great things to say. The site was also picked up by a few popular design galleries and design-related blogs, further exposing these roles to the right crowd.

For the two weeks before our mini site, the Jobs section had 1,085 visitors. Within two weeks of the new site, more than 50,000 people had checked it out. In my mind that’s well worth the few days work it took to put together.

More than 150 applicants

To date we’ve had just over 150 designers apply for the two roles. That’s more than triple the response we’ve had for a previous design role we advertised, and I’d argue the market for great designers is even tighter now than it was then.

Welcome Matt and Pete

Out of the 150 applicants and other designers we spoke to over the last few weeks, there were some notable standouts. None more so than Matthew Farag, who put together a stunning application site specifically for the role at Campaign Monitor. He literally saw our move and raised us one.

Click to see Matt's application site

Matthew started with us two weeks ago and you’ll start to see some of his work in Campaign Monitor shortly. He’s already having a big impact on the way we think about the personality and experience of our software.

We also recently welcomed Pete Usborne to the design team, who’ll be starting with us in July. On top of a sweeping portfolio of work, Pete is also the brains behind Prevue—a gorgeous concept sharing tool for designers.

Worth the effort

Looking back at this little project, I couldn’t be happier with the results. I’m confident we wouldn’t have had anywhere near the kind of response we got if we’d just stuck with the usual approach. Recruitment, like just about everything a business does, is a marketing exercise.

If you care about finding great people, the first thing to remember is that typically, great people aren’t looking for you. Whether it’s through a memorable web site, your personal network or good old fashion headhunting, you need to put the effort into getting their attention.

The exact same lesson applies to job seekers too. Out of the 150 people that applied, more than 100 of them made little to no effort to make their application unique. I received the same cover letter and resume they likely sent to dozens of other jobs they also applied to. If someone can’t take the time to read a little about the company they are applying for and reflect that in their approach, how much attention to detail will they have as a member of our team?

It’s all about standing out.

Posted by David Greiner

10 Comments

  • Wayde Christie
    3rd May

    Awesome stuff Dave. I’d like to add that it raises the bar for the applicants when you go to so much effort with your job campaigns.

    We recently had a couple of positions to fill, and while we didn’t go anywhere near the lengths you did to hire someone, it was the applicants who went to the effort to get our attention that got the job.

    Much like your new guy Matt did with his custom designed and built site/application, our new person Iain did exactly the same thing - check his application out - http://tinyurl.com/3etxr89.

    So when you raise the bar with your job listings, you raise the bar for the applicants as well. And doesn’t that make the world a better place?

  • Sean Bunton
    3rd May

    Great to see you’ve found some amazing talent. Can’t wait to see what they can do!

  • David Greiner
    3rd May

    Awesome Wayde, it’s very refreshing (and humbling) when someone goes the extra mile. And thanks Sean, congrats on the release of LiveScene too, it looks like a great app. nice signup form too ;)

  • Biyified
    3rd May

    Great Insight, will really be helpful for me because currently am on a hunt for this kind of Job.

  • jPurchs
    4th May

    Wayde hit the nail on the head. People you don’t want wont apply, and those that do obviously really want it.

  • Jack
    4th May

    Matt’s applicant website is in-fucking-credible. Makes me want to steal him from you, I’m sick of same-old A4 resume’s and black leather portfolios.

  • Adam Fitzgerald
    4th May

    We have 22 team members. Only 2 were recruited via job ads outside our network. Much better that way :)

  • Chris
    4th May

    Great insight David. Just checked out Matt’s website Halftoneapp.com - seems exactly what our business needs. Simple and looks stunning too.

  • Sarang Rajale
    4th May

    That’s awesome David! Although I’m not a graphic designer this whole idea of standing out in the job market and reaching out to untapped potential is just brilliant.

    Now this is something I relate to going an extra mile to get something.

  • Chris Schultz Studio
    26th May

    Your two new hires look like they’ll be amazing for your team. That’s good for us, your customers, as well. :)

    All the best, Matt and Pete!

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