Solving the job-search puzzle

Illustration by Frank Neufeld

If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, wrote the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, you are sure to wake up somebody. Nobody agrees with those words more than Justin Bansal.

Following graduation last year, the Business Administration major took to the job-hunting market with all the confidence in the world – only to be hit with a harsh reality. After six months of no prospects, and nothing on the horizon, Bansal launched a unique social media marketing campaign to specifically get hired by Loblaw Companies Limited.

Now, almost a year after graduation, his hard work has paid off. Bansal recently began a job as a data analyst on the central data management team at Loblaw.

And he owes everything to knocking on that gate long enough.

Western graduate Justin Bansal

Special to Western NewsAfter months of perseverance and determination, not to mention a full-blown social media marketing campaign, recent Western graduate Justin Bansal landed a job with the company he was so passionate to work for – Loblaw Companies Limited.

“My campaign was an integrated marketing campaign that leveraged social media to promote my personal brand,” Bansal said. “I launched a website at loblawshouldhirejustin.com. I wrote blog entries on why I was the perfect candidate, my interest in Loblaw, the recruitment process thus far, and posted it to this website.

“The website resembled the Loblaw brand by the use of similar colours. I also changed the headers on my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles so the message would stand out. With the use of similar colours, and a large header image, I knew my profiles would create buzz among my network. I even went so far as to purchase Twitter ads and have them run for a week.”

Bansal soon started garnering attention – specifically 945 website visits, 8,500 Twitter impressions and 300 LinkedIn views. While the job offer didn’t immediately come, a senior recruitment manager at Loblaw, who Bansal had met at an event in Toronto in 2013, took note.

She tweeted to Loblaw senior vice-president of marketing, Uwe Stueckmann:

Loblaws_Tweet1

Less than half an hour later, Stueckmann tweeted:

Loblaws_Tweet2

“I think this moment was a huge turning point for my campaign. It got real,” Bansal said. “My goal was to get the attention of upper management – it was finally happening. I started to message close friends and get their help and advice. I was starting to really believe the hard work was finally paying off.”

Bansal jumped on Twitter and Facebook to seek help in getting that coffee and, more importantly, one step closer to his dream job. Within the hour, he had 32 people tweet Stueckmann, giving reasons on why they should hire him.

Stueckmann tweeted:

Loblaws_Tweet3

“It was an amazing feeling having all these friends and family support me,” Bansal said. “Many employees at Loblaw even began to follow me. I guess they caught wind of what was happening. People were wishing me luck for my meeting with Mr. Stueckmann and I was gaining confidence.”

The impromptu coffee went well, although there wasn’t a job for him at the time. Stueckmann admired Bansal’s persistence, however, and became a key professional connection.

“A month later another position opened up at the company,” Bansal said. “I applied, leveraged my connection with Mr. Stueckmann and, after two successful interviews, I can now say I’m officially an employee at Loblaw.”

While he has no regrets about his process, Bansal wishes it didn’t have to be that hard.

“The job hunt also takes a toll on you mentally, but I learned a lot and met many interesting people along the way,” he said. “I developed some key professional relationships, which I’m sure will help me as I build my career here.”

Bansal said many recent graduates may not have direct work experience for a specific role, or enough experience, but they bring other valuable traits to the business. The whole campaign was his efforts to demonstrate skills like persistence, attitude and professionalism to Loblaw’s management.

“Skills like these are important and each of the transferable skills they bring from their past work or volunteer experiences hold value,” he said.

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ON THE (JOB) HUNT

Recent Business Administration alumnus Justin Bansal hopes his journey to employment can motivate other recent, or soon-to-be, Western graduates, to be persistent in their job hunt. Here are his Top Four Tips to standing out in a crowded marketplace.

  • With any career you choose, its a long journey ahead.
    There’s no easy way or shortcut to the end. It’s hard, but it’s possible, and with persistence, and the right motivation, anyone can achieve it. So, whatever career you choose, it’s important to realize the ideal job you envision yourself having, may not come right away. You have to pay your dues. But it will work out eventually.
  • Along with applying online, look up recruiters from the company on LinkedIn.
    Send them a quick email and arrange a meeting or call. Find out what entry-level opportunities the company recruits for and compare the positions to your interests and skills. If you’ve applied to more than five positions from the company over several months, and haven’t gotten a single call/email for an interview, there’s a problem. Maybe they’re looking for more experienced candidates.
    So, your best bet would be to go for the entry-level roles. Sometimes roles seem like they’re entry-level from the description, but they really aren’t. Every company is different. You’ll have a much better shot if you apply to the right positions so invest that additional prep time into your job hunt.
  • Maintain a professional LinkedIn profile.
    Ensure that if someone were to Google you, that you’re happy with what shows up. If not, make those accounts and content private.
    Have informational interviews with as many people as you can.
    Message an employee from the company on LinkedIn vs. through email, because emails get missed all the time. On LinkedIn, they’ll be sure to get the notification. Let them know you’re interested in learning more about what they do and the company. And definitely don’t ask for a job. This approach is great for two reasons – one, people love to talk about themselves; and two, you’ll have a connection within the company. Once a job opens up, they’ll have you in mind.