Jon Allen studied a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) at Adelaide University graduating in 2012. Upon graduation, Jon did what most graduates do he sent out hundreds ofout resumes to potential employers. Due to the lack of responses, he then started to send out resumes with cover letters. Admittedly he said “I was pretty lucky to learn early on that just doing that doesn’t get results.” His next move was to cold call employers he wanted to work at and asked for entry level positions. “I got a lot of rejections – a LOT,” says Jon.
This process went on for 4-5 months and he was not getting anywhere fast, only rejections or being completely ignored. Jon’s outlook on graduate job prospecting at this point was that “it felt like there was a wall without a door on it into these organisations – and it was being guarded heavily by armed soldiers trained to say no to everyone!”
Jon was a bit shocked, particularly because he had moved to Melbourne (a bigger city) from Adelaide and expected there to be more jobs available: he I got pretty down for a little while, but did not really have any other choice except keep trying he had just moved to a new city and things were getting desperate.
Jon began by asking for asking specifically for internships, work experience, volunteer roles, as a way in. Through this change of approach, Jon ended up working for The Amazing Race Television show for 2-3 weeks and it was even paid. In order to land this, he showed knowledge of the industry, general interest and asked if there was anything he could do, paid or unpaid, to get involved. In retrospect Jon says most places like that approach, and that he knew what he was talking about despite having no experience. The research he did helped.
This type of approach has many advantages for graduates looking for work. Jon explains “generally approaching an employer showing a willingness to work on the basis of genuine interest rather than money allows you to slide a foot into the door way.
It’s soft, unassuming, and provides the business with value, essentially for nothing other than introducing themselves and finding a desk for you, and you ask for nothing in return. They get something for free. If nothing else it puts your name in their heads, automatically making you a frontrunner for new jobs, particularly if they really liked you and/or don’t want to go through the recruitment process officially.”
The type of person who would benefit from this different type of approach for getting paid graduate work is “anyone trying to get into a difficult industry, which these days is pretty much all of them. As well as anyone with no or little experience, even if they have a degree.”
The Amazing Race job got Jon nowhere particular, but it showed him that approaching businesses differently actually works. Through the The Amazing Race Jon received an interview with a media buying group which ended up not being a good fit for him, however they recommended he try creative advertising as a career path due to his interest in the creative process. Based on this Jon started researching everything about advertising and learning the lingo so he knew what sort of positions to ask for and how to talk the talk. He decided to look up the Managing Director’s contact details, and email him directly with a resume and a perfectly written cover letter that painted him as someone wanting to work for free, incorporating the approach he had learnt to get his foot-in-the-door previously.
The Managing Director’s personal assistant called Jon a week later and invited him in for chat. A week later Jon had a follow up meeting with a Group Director, who offered him another internship for 3 months – paid. Although, Jon knew all the work they had done, he later realised this company was the 8th ranked agency in the world – George Patterson Y&R. After finishing the role, he left for green pastures. In Jon’s words, “a lot of my later career I can attribute to those 3 months. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, but it gave me the experience to gain my later university positions.”