Now here’s a smart way to find a job – Target a Google ad at the person you want to hire you
By Diego Vasquez
Jun 15, 2010
It’s the time of year when thousands of recent college graduates are searching for their first job in media, hoping to find some way to stand out in a crowded field. They could learn a lesson from Alec Brownstein. The 29-year-old from New York City was looking for a way to get his resume in front of some top agency creative directors when he flashed on an idea: Why not buy a Google ad targeting them by name? Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone Googles themselves. The next time they did so, they found an ad addressing them by name and stating why Brownstein would be the perfect hire. He bought the ad last summer and by January had a new job as a senior copywriter at Young & Rubicam, the agency he targeted in his search. Though recent graduates are often warned not to use gimmicks in their job search, this particular gimmick worked because Brownstein was also showing his future bosses his smarts: He knows how good media works. Brownstein talks to Media Life about how inspiration struck, why it cost so little to execute, and why the scheme worked.
How did you come up with this idea? How long did you kick it around before deciding to go ahead with it, and where were you employed before?
I decided that I wanted to work at Young & Rubicam in New York, for some of the most creative creative directors in the business. I was doing a bit of research about them, on Google of course, and I noticed that no sponsored links appeared when you Googled their names.
As someone who Googles myself, shall we say, frequently, I realized that if someone were to take out an ad above my results, I would notice it. So that’s what I did.
I didn’t kick around the idea for long before implementing it. I think I executed the idea the same day that I thought it up. I was employed at the time, but at a much less creative agency.
How did you decide who to target with the ad?
I identified the creative directors whose work I most admired and respected. These were the guys who I thought I could learn the most from, so I targeted them.
Take us through the process — how much did the ad cost, what did it say, how long did it run, etc.
Since nobody else was bidding on these names as search terms, I was able to get the top spot for a bid of 15 cents per click. I only paid per click, but I put a cap of $1 per day, per ad, just in case.
The ad said, “Hey, _____________. Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too.” The ad then linked to my online portfolio. I believe that the ads ran for about six weeks before I started getting responses. The total cost for the entire campaign was less than $6.
Did you hear from all the people you targeted? How many interviews did you get?
I heard from four of the five creative directors that I targeted. I interviewed with all four of them and received a job offer from two of them.
Was anyone embarrassed to be discovered Googling themselves?
Interestingly enough, they all said that someone else had Googled them and told them about it.
People are sometimes advised not to do gimmicky things, like sending resumes on pink paper or sending HR people gifts to stand out. Why do you think this gimmick worked? How much of it has to do with the fact that advertising is an industry based on creativity?
I believe that the Google Job Experiment worked because the entire idea was predicated upon the thing which I was asking them to hire me to do. That is, to create a successful ad.
It was certainly a stunt, but different in its thinking than, say, sending a resume on pink paper. My exact execution was probably best for the advertising industry, but I believe that there is room for creativity in any job search. The key is to come up with that creative idea that says more than just, “Look at me!” but says, “Look at me, I’m quite good at __________.”
How much media attention have you gotten for all of this? Have you enjoyed it, or is it getting to be a distraction?
The media attention has been amazing. I’ve been on/in news shows, magazines, blogs, trade publications, radio, etc. It’s died down quite a bit, so it’s not really a distraction for me. I have enjoyed it, though.
Now that you’ve used this method to get a job, how will you go about getting a raise?
Good question. Perhaps I’ll figure out a dollar value for all the free press that I’ve gotten for the agency and then ask for that.
Or I could do it the old fashioned way: hard work. Maybe I’ll try both.