Long-Distance Longings ... for a Job
March 20, 2013 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Several months ago, I ran across a running ad for a content strategist on the site of a very well-known digital agency in NYC. I found the ad so compelling, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. It listed my relatively rare top-two criteria in a job as key responsibilities, and it listed an intriguing array of secondary responsibilities, which echo my own experience, as well as my long-standing desire to have a job that, in many ways, spans fields. I've studied the agency a fair amount since then, and everything I've read is positive. So I've spent the last several months honing some of my secondary skills to make myself a more attractive candidate. And I've repeatedly checked to make sure the ad is still there, and it always is. I'm now reaching a point where I need to seriously look for a job. I want it to be at this agency. How do I convince them to even talk to me? I'm two states away, and looking for a strategy (no pun intended).

  1. I have something like 15 years of editorial experience: in writing, editing, information management, and design.
  2. And I now have 2+ years of Content Strategy experience (they ask for 2–6), in writing, editing, mock-up design, information management, site architecture, social media, and the like.
  3. I've very much got an "editor's mind" and a "designer's eye."
  4. I've worked with commercial, government, and academic organizations in the past. Over the last two years, I've worked exclusively with nonprofits, which is the core client base of the digital agency.
  5. I have numerous recommendations on LinkedIn, and all my past managers love me!

  1. I've got samples of some of my mock-ups, many of which look good, I think. But of the three or so nonprofits I've worked for in the last few years, not a single Website has been professionally completed (by any standard). This has to do with lack of branch/impoverished agency resources and the like, rather than me. Nonetheless, it looks bad. My strong impression is that digital agencies expect to be able to click on site addresses right on your resume, and immediately click to Websites. I wouldn't dare add a single Web address to my resume.
  2. I've seen the LinkedIn pages of the person who last had the job I want (who has since been promoted), and this person's supervisor. Both came out of glossy journalistic backgrounds; I come from a less glossy book publishing background.
  3. I live North of Boston; the agency is in NYC.

  1. I've contemplated writing notes to someone at the company, through LinkedIn, expressing interest.
  2. I've contemplated putting my interest in this agency in my LinkedIn permanent status field—though I have absolutely no connection to the agency through my network. I share groups with some of them, but none of them seem to talk in groups. (I don't either.)
  3. In the ad, they ask for a resume, optional samples, a long letter of introduction, and salary requirements. I'm planning on writing a crackerjack letter, and including samples, and a resume, of course. But I have no idea what a mid-level Content Strategist with some IA skills gets paid in NY, and neither Glass Door nor Google was illuminating. Do you know?

How should I broach this? Can you think of any way I can help make myself stand out? Also, any idea what salaries are like for someone with experience like mine?
posted by Violet Blue to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What? The job has been posted for MONTHS? What the hell?

First of all, just fucking apply. If, in all this time, they haven't found a fit, then your resume will be an answer to their prayers.

As for salary requirements, be vague, Salary and Bonus to be commensurate with experience is a good start, and you can negotiate from there. Anyone citing a number first is at a disadvantage.

But, I'm really concerned about the fact that the job has been posted for so long. Either it's stale, or an error. Either that or this firm is so disorganized that they haven't been able to fill a position for going on one year already. I'd be suspicious of that.

As for addressing the fact that you're in another location, you have two options, buy a Burner cell phone and get a NY phone number for it, then use a friends NY address on your resume (or go with no address on the resume.)

Or you can put in your cover letter, "I am re-locating to the NYC Area." OR, "I am open to relocating to NYC."

Personally, I'd get a burner and leave my address off. But that's me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:59 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Slightly dumb question: you do intend to move to NYC if you get the job, right?
posted by Oktober at 8:59 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not to threadsit, but two quick replies:

Ruthless — I worried about the permanent running ad thing, too, at first. But I've seen it on other Websites, particularly in fields where the position is a little unusual. They also have more than one office nationally, and I've seen company reviews on Glass Door, and they're good.

Oktober — I absolutely plan to move to NY. I actually have a "dummy" address I could use, but I'm not sure if it's the better part of wisdom to be upfront about my current location, or not.
posted by Violet Blue at 9:06 AM on March 20, 2013

Unless they really, really want you for the gig, having an address outside of NYC -- hell, sometimes outside of the borough -- will get your resume ignored almost immediately.
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's probably a better strategy to look for some sort of human connection to get a job like this. Do you know anyone at the company? Do you know anyone who knows the hiring manager? Is the hiring manager on Twitter? Is the agency on Twitter? Are you interacting with them on Twitter? Are you interacting with their network on Twitter? How about LinkedIn... What LinkedIn groups does the agency interact with on LinkedIn? Are you following the agency on LinkedIn?

I would definitely try to join the conversation online.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:12 AM on March 20, 2013

Last peep, I swear, but ... KokuRyu:

I don't know anyone at the company. I don't know anybody who knows anybody there. The company is on Twitter but their tweets there are pro forma, not conversational. I do follow the company on LinkedIn, but they don't talk there either. Some of the company's workers share content strategy groups with me, but they have no posting history there, either.


Do you think I should attempt to catch the eye of the hiring manager or the content strategy supervisor?

Also, any other ideas?
posted by Violet Blue at 9:28 AM on March 20, 2013

I'm a content strategist and in NYC, and it seems to me that the demand for experienced content strategists is way outweighing supply. The last agency I worked for has had multiple content strategy positions open for months, is open to recruits from out of state, and has hired people from afar. I also get weekly inquiries on LinkedIn (I'm senior level). I'd follow KokuRyu's recommendations, and (I know this isn't common advice) start contacting or applying with recruiters. They're not as generous, however, with out-of-state applicants. I used a friend's NYC address, per Ruthless Bunny's advice, and told them I was between cities, which was largely true.

Regarding the portfolio, post your mock ups, and be sure to include a detailed explanation of what you did for the organization/project.

MeMail me for salary advice.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:40 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes use the NY address on the resume, esp if it is a place you can stay while interviewing.
I don't think you need a NYC burner cell.
Cell phone numbers are not good indications of where you are, especially now that numbers travel with people.
I've lived in NYC for 10 years and still have a Boston cell and no one has thought I live there. Very rarely, someone will recognize the area code and ask if I used to live there and then I tell them yes and that I keep the local number for my mom to call me (aww).

If you can't use the sites you worked on as live examples, do you at least have your own website where you can post designs and mock-ups that you've worked on? Make that if not.

If you must put a salary on the application (it does not sound like you really do here), then I would look on glassdoor to see what people are making and then ask for a range over 20k or so and say that I am seeking a salary in the range of $x-x+20 depending on the rest of the total package including benefits and bonus.
posted by rmless at 2:48 PM on March 20, 2013

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