An Alternative to ROI (or at least a supplement)

A while back, I talked about the need to prove your worth to a potential employer — to prove that you can provide a return on investment. I still think it’s an important piece of the puzzle, but during my conversation with Sherry and Sarah at Bowdoin College, Sherry pointed out that job searchers, especially recent graduates, need to show other qualities, as well.

She said something to the effect of, “ROI is results-oriented business-speak. And really, young graduates don’t have much business experience or proven results. You have other things, though. You’re smart as heck, you’re enthusiastic and you can learn things at the speed of light.”

So what’s the implication for us? I think it’s to incorporate the qualities of enthusiasm and intellect into your personal brand and job-search campaign. To give you a concrete example, I think you should take a page out of Jamie Varon‘s book, or rather, Web site.

Jamie wants to work for Twitter. How do I know that? Because she built a site that says so. Yes, she built an entire Web site about how she wants to work at Twitter. Then she publicized it — guess where? On Twitter. Over the past few days it’s gone viral.

If that doesn’t show enthusiasm, I don’t know what does. She’s also demonstrating her aptitude for the medium and her understanding of ROI with her list, “10 Reasons Twitter Should Hire Me.”

All the items are under 140 characters (the limit for Twitter). Numbers one through nine show her overwhelming enthusiasm. But number 10 shows she can produce results, too. She talks about how many retweets her story has earned and how many original hits the Web site has received.

It’s the perfect combination of enthusiasm and ROI.

I’m not saying you have to or should go as far as Jamie Varon, but remember her enthusiasm as you’re writing your cover letters and sitting in interviews.

Ask yourself, “Why do I really want to work here? What about this organization makes me excited?” and convey those ideas in your answers, instead (or along with) your list of past experiences and results.

Put yourself in the position of the company. Wouldn’t you rather hear a person who’s genuinely excited about the job, as opposed to someone just rattling off the same type of accomplishments you’ve been listening to all day? One executive got so tired of the same old boring cover letters, he submitted one of his own to Craigslist just to show job seekers how to do it. See the balance of enthusiasm and ROI?

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4 responses to “An Alternative to ROI (or at least a supplement)

  1. You know… I came across another person who was very creative in her job hunt. You can see the ad she put on Craigslist here: http://www.ritawilhelm.com/2009/01/28/creative-job-search-ad-see-what-this-person-did-to-attract-an-employer/

  2. The key in all of the good examples is that passion dictates creativity and drive. If someone really wants something, and it provides optimal utilization of their natural abilities, then they will make an impact. The same thing was said about those who really wanted to work for Apple or Microsoft or even Google in the earlier part of this decade.

    Of course, these examples are not the norm, and why would they be? Trying to tie your passions to a realistic, though challenging and rewarding, profession is not an easy chance. Kelly, you commented on my blog about functional resumes. When I review those of applicants, I often find that functional formatting or not, their strengths and passions appear pretty quickly. This is even in the case when they try to mask them under the jargon they assume squints like I care about seeing and knowing.

    I would probably advise someone with a specific, almost unhealthy passionate interest to make sure they do not cut themselves off from other opportunities when they are pursuing their dream job. Remember, it is easy at a young age (that includes those of you in the 20’s) to get caught up in the energy and aura of a new product or idea. It’s the spirit of populism inherent with any hot success. In the case of Jamie, I’d make sure she broadened her overall net to include pursuing opportunities with companies and in fields similar to her dream. Just like applying for college, its the environment and potential available you should be most concerned about, not the name of the institution.

    • tarheelsintransit

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Ken. I totally agree that passion, if you have it, shows through in everything. It comes across in interviews, cover letters and even resumes (assuming it’s targeted to the employer). And passion gets you hired because employers believe it’ll come across in your work, too.

      If we were in a fast-growing economy like the dot-com boom of the ’90s, I think holding out for a dream job would be a much safer bet. Now, almost everything I’ve read indicates that most people (especially college students) should look for stepping-stone employment, or jobs that can give you skills you can transfer to a better job once the economy is recovering.

      That being said, I think if you have a dream job or company in mind, don’t give up hope. You have tremendous assets to offer by virtue of the fact that you’re search is so targeted and you have so much passion. Assuming you have the skills for said job or company, you just have to be smart and persistent about presenting them. Jamie already has an interview at Twitter, so that shows a focused, smart approach can work.

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