So, You Want to Apply for a Job with Us?
It's not everyday that people say that they want to work with you.
And why would they? Unless one of a few things were true.
- They need a job
- You have a job
- They want to work with you
- They want to be paid
- You want to pay someone.
- Working together will create mutual value.
- They like what you do.
While there are lots of reasons people want a job, hopefully they truly want a career—a place that is in alignment with who they are, helps them advance their future, and along the way, meet their needs.
Its not always easy finding that job though. When it comes to applying for jobs, I've been there. You wouldn't believe the hoops that I've had to hop through to try to get people's attention.
One time, I created a campaign for the folks at an agency that I thought would blow them out of the water.
I create a custom label for that went on cans of mandarin orange segments. I included several of these custom-labeled cans along with mandarin oranges in a customer made fruit crate.
It highlighted my skills % on the nutritional values, and coordinated with my portfolio. They were sexy. They looked real. By real, I mean, they looked like a real CPG brand.
A week later, I sent them a follow up. "Let's talk, I have the right tools," including a hang juicer and a can opener.
I thought I had this one in the bag. Surely, they would reach back out, right?
Nope. They didn't reach out, say thank you, or acknowledge me.
I was pretty furious. While I didn't anticipate making the change to their agency, I did want to start a conversation.
Now, had I gotten this gig, I wouldn't have kept going on my journey, and Quantum wouldn't be where it is today. So, i'll take it as a blessing in disguise.
Yet, of all my experiences, there's none more frustrating than ones where you want to create value, and show that there's a fit. In that statement alone, there's a nugget to be found.
Value. How do you create value?
Well, whether you're trying to apply for a job here at Quantum, or any firm for that matter, I'd love to share some of the lesson's I've learned.
Lesson #5 DO YOUR RESEARCH
Every successful plan has to start with research. For candidates wanting to work at the home of BrandScience, research is par for course. Its expected that our solutions for brands comes from researching their proprietary category data, evaluating the laws of growth, researching the trademark electronic search system, as well as numerous other areas.
So, what type of research do you do? Here's a short list to get your started.
Who is the Founder?
For candidates for any company, have you researched the founder? Do you know his/her name? Do you know the basic flight pattern of their career path (school / major high points)?
You wouldn't believe the number of emails I get not knowing my name, how to spell it, or even that know my preferred pronouns (he/his). Misgendering isn't offensive, but a little research would in-fact show that I'm cisgender male expressive. Using Sir/Madam is a hard no from me. Oh, and "whom to this concerns." This actually concerns YOU the applicant.
What size is this company?
Do they have a big team? What's the basic structure? What can you figure out? Are they in an office? Do they work remotely?
Without understanding the basics of who they share their business to be, how do you know how you're going to fit in?
Quantum is a virtual, result-based, business, meaning we don't do clock-in/clock-out, but we do meetings, do have in-person workshops, and meet clients on-site. I currently lead all the initiatives, and work with an "avengers model," meaning we work with tiered industry partners exclusively with superpowers we don't have (web, video, ads, digital, etc). We create all our brand identity, strategy, consultancy in-house, with our own research, design, and strategy team. Currently quantum works on a contingency-basis with 10-99 partners with other agencies to fulfill these roles.
What are their main services?
This one is always surprising to me. If you don't know what a company does, how can you say you want to work there?
I have had students and previous applicants show me their vast print work or their web work. That's great. While those have branding applications, that's not exclusively nor part of what we do.
For designers, I want (and need to see) extensive brand development experience, seeing art direction across multiple platforms, how you translate experiences across physical to digital, retail to online, and so on.
For brand strategists, I want to hear what you started with a brand and where you took it. What opportunities you sought out, how you built more brand channels, and how you built and scaled the marketing through testing, optimizing, and scaling content and experiences.
For researchers, I want to hear that you understand how to investigate qualitative and quantitative data, know how to visualize data, and how you could help research things like the trademark electronic search system, using AI to help increase the speed and efficiency if our searches, establishing the newest practices for BrandScience methodology.
At Quantum, we provide brand identity design, strategy, and consultancy services. With the addition of Brandpreneur, and speaking, our services fall into three buckets: Design and Strategy, Coaching/Workshops, and Fractional Chief Strategy Officer buckets. A little poking around is incredibly important to understand HOW they do the WHAT.
Who have they worked with?
Understanding clients and category experience gives you an understanding of their past trajectory. While Quantum has largely worked with CPG, BrandScience works universally, and in over 65+ categories and counting.
While we have big name companies like Mars Petcare, smaller local and regional companies benefit from the power of BrandScience, allowing them to grow and thrive on the growth levels they aspire to.
What can you do for us? What is the connection between why you're contacting us and why we should pay attention?
This is typically where every contact email I get lacks.
While most emails are quick to say "this is who I am, this is what I've done, and this is what I can do really well, " these same emails fail to connect HOW we can benefit from having you specifically.
The things you share are often based on your PAST experiences and don't prime the world of imagination for the future.
You need to help the new potential employer envision how you fit in, what you bring to the table and are co-creating together.
When I'm looking at applicants, I want to hear their personal connection to branding, what they think of BrandScience, and how they could really be an asset, and make our jobs/lives easier, better, and how we could grow as a team, a company, and organization forwards a stronger expression of the desired future for Quantum.
How Do I Craft a Good Email?
While there's no one-size-fits-all answer for this one, I will tell you what not other employer EVER wants to see.
"Hello Dear Sir/ Madame, (<<< I didn't research)
Me-me-me-me-me-me- for this job.
I've done this this this this this and am good at that that that.
You'll find my attached resume highlighting all these things I just talked about redundantly.
I look forward to hearing from you. (Presumptuous).
The best emails I've ever gotten are simple.
- They often ask a question. "What if I could make It easier for Quantum to get more clients that you want?" Intrigued.
- They open kindly and unassuming. "Hey Stæven, I'm Bobby (or name). Would love to throw my hat in the ring for the Opening/Position.
- They say things like "I'd like to see if this is a good fit," "Start a conversation," and "get to know you more."
- The emails don't assume that we'll contact them right away.
- The best emails areNOT filled with their accomplishments, but rather say in-spirit, "I'm contacting you because, let's connect."
- Show a genuine interest in Quantum, BrandScience, and the work we're doing.
- Are connecting dots with where they want to go and where we want to go, and seeing those fit.
Now, if you came to an employer and said all these things, that's great. But its another thing to meet them. What does that mean?
You Need to Be Authentic and Genuine.
The best candidates for any job with an employer have an understanding of how they present themselves and how others experience them. They're able to create a conversation and hold enough back to pique curiosity, ask questions, and invite a discussion.
More importantly, there's three things that I explicitly look for:
- A Great Personality. You can always teach skills, but you can't teach personality. Chemistry, Connection, and Community are only possible based on someone's ability to share who they are.
- A Passion for Continual Learning. The best candidates for a role aren't there because they just know what they know, but rather they're willing to learn MORE, and always be humble, learn, and be approachable.
- They See Themselves as Lucky. You may be surprised about this one, but if you're familiar with the idea of Abundance/Lack mindset, this is it. Someone who see positive things in their life, focuses on attracting more of what they want, and are an active participant in their journey is paramount.
There's no one template for writing an email, but there certain variables. Remembering you're talking to another human and looking to create a value with their company.
Be your best self, share value, and communicate how you can help.