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How I Got A Job At VaynerMedia

Image Credit: Spector Group

by Kenny Soto

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

~ Seneca

Setting up your plan

I have the great opportunity to begin the next stage of my career with a team I’ve been trying to join since October 2016. One of the main reasons why I was able to get a job at VaynerMedia is because I had a plan. Using a 4-step checklist that I devised, it helped me not only get a great job — it helped me learn more about the company culture and what to expect during my first 90 days.

Below you’ll see the context of how I used my strategy to get my dream job. I won’t go into specifics of the 4-step checklist itself. If you want to read my strategy in complete detail click or tap here.

It’s a game of numbers

You can message anyone you want if they have a profile on social media. More importantly, you can message anyone you want from your dream company if they have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is often underutilized as a professional networking tool. It’s more than just a resume.

The first thing I did to get my job application(s) noticed from the Vayner team was sending out invitations to connect to roughly 368 employees. After two months of getting nowhere, I realized I was committing a common error that new LinkedIn users fall into. I wasn’t tailoring my invitations to add context; I was spammy.

Everyone’s time is limited. Once I figured out that I needed to have a valid reason for connecting with people from the company I created the following message:

“Hello {First Name},

I am considering applying to one of the open positions of your team. To make sure I’m a right fit I wanted to know if you could spare 5 minutes of your time to talk about the company culture. If not, could you possibly point me to the right people to speak to?

Kenny S.”

{Note: This is a template that changed if that specific person had a something I could personally relate to. Such as being a graduate of the same college.}

The reason this message worked for me was that it shows that I’m aware of the other person’s limited time and if they didn’t want to spare me the five minutes, they have the option of telling me who to contact. Just keep in mind, you only have 300 characters for your pitch. Feel free to use this one. Also, this only helped my chances of getting an actual response by a small percent.

I was able to get accepted invitations from 256 employees, getting actual conversations from only 7 of them. It’s a game of numbers. The good thing is that through those 7 team members, I was eventually able to get in contact with the head of recruitment and have my resume recommended by someone from the strategy team too. But, this was still not enough for me to succeed. I had to do more.

Bonus ~ Use second connections on the search page of LinkedIn to get less friction when sending invites. Once you’ve connected with 20 people cold, you’ll be able to leverage second connection search. It’s easier to get accepted invites because people assume you know people on the team. 🤔😴

Related: There Are No Longer Six Degrees Of Separation

Interviewing for information

To preface why interviewing for information is so important, I want to make sure one thing is clear: you’re never going to ask for a referral when someone actually responds to your invitation to connect on LinkedIn. This is the quickest way to get blocked.

What you want to do is gather info not only for the potential interview but, to also know what to do once you’re hired. The person you ask doesn’t need to be the recruiter or decision maker; you can ask any team member. At the very least what you’ll gain is a better understanding of the culture — finding out if you really want to join the company you’re applying to.

One of the people I reached out to was someone on the team who had the same entry level position I was applying for. When I was able to convert them to get a phone call I made sure to ask the right questions to maximize the value I could get from the call.

I asked them:

  1. Their opinion on the team culture and their experience so far (I wanted to make sure VaynerMedia was really a team I wanted to join).
  2. Their advice for what I can do during my first 90 days to provide the most value to the team (read this article to find out why it’s so important to plan ahead, first impressions matter).
  3. More information about the role and how they interact with the rest of the team (getting as many first-hand accounts of the day to work can help you map out what to expect ahead of time, getting granular info).

I learned that VaynerMedia encourages team building. I was able to realize that I have to be willing to volunteer my time to do tasks not in my job description to get ahead (this is also great for skills acquisition and networking).

Content leads to more opportunities

While I was doing network outreach to as many employees as I could, I was also creating content for my profile. Your profile’s visibility, and more importantly credibility is limited if all you’re doing is adding your professional experience as it grows. Your profile is more than just a resume, it’s a library of insights. Using both LinkedIn articles and SlideShare, any professional can showcase their knowledge and expertise.

The goal of creating content, however, isn’t only just to show off what you know. If you want people (and possibly recruiters) to consume your content, it has to help people. I’m still learning digital marketing, but if there’s one thing I can write about is getting employed and documenting my journey of being a young professional fresh out of college.

To make things simple, I focused on consistency first. Making sure that I published one article roughly every two weeks. This allowed my profile to stay on my growing networks newsfeed and in addition to this, I shared my content on relevant LinkedIn groups as well.

The advantage of creating content for your profile is that your competition isn’t (yet). I knew that I needed to take a different approach from everyone else, this part of my strategy was another significant contributing factor to my success.

Related: The Easiest Way College Seniors And Grads Can Start Creating Content On LinkedIn (8 Minute Read)

Executing during the interview

Because I interviewed for information before my actual interviews, I already knew what they were looking for in the ideal candidate (this long process helps maximize your chances of success). All I had to do was to talk about my skills and how they mapped to the position I was applying for.

What I didn’t expect was to be placed in a role that I didn’t apply for. I’ve heard in the past that there are often open positions in a large organization that aren’t publicized right away (they are usually promoted internally first). I guess I lucked out somewhat, but they did mention via email that my LinkedIn profile had some impact on how they came to their final decision.

Also, here are some questions I asked during the interview:

  1. How are account deliverables planned?
  2. What does planning for contractors renewals look like?
  3. What advice do you have so I can maximize the value I bring to the team during my 1st 90 days?
  4. What does a typical week for this position look like?

Disregarding the first two questions that are more focused on agency work, the important ones are the last two. Having a good understanding of what to expect and showing your eagerness to provide value helps you to stand out in any interview. I believe that these questions helped to solidify my chances of getting the job.

Related: How To Stand Out During Your First 90 Days At Your New Job

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I’m not saying that this strategy works for everyone, but it certainly worked for me. Perhaps if you adopt just one of the things I did here, your chances of getting into your dream company will increase. If you do get some results, let me know! I’d love to chat about your success and see what you’ve learned from the experience. The way we’ve been applying to jobs is outdated and it’s up to us to try new methods. It’s the only way we’ll be able to stand out.


This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse on June 7th, 2017. Subscribe to my newsletter for more articles like this one: eepurl.com/by4v59