Even though career prospects may be getting better for young people with degrees, the job market in the U.S. for tech-related, non-technical jobs is a constant battle. There is even a startup dedicated to ‘planting’ non-techies in startups.
As in most aspects in life, the secret to standing out is being not only different, but being remarkable. That’s what Matthew Laird, a 25 year old graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Dual degree in Business Management and Industrial/Organizational Psychology and a Communications minor did.
Fresh out of college, Matthew returned to an advertising agency he had summer internships with for a business development administration role. Coming from an engineering school, he’s been always in love with technology. This passion is what helped him excel at his job, and after only a year and a half, he was supervising all things business development and reporting only to C-executives.
Things were going great, until the company began to take him for granted: “They did not deliver on promises made before beginning to work there and before accepting the promotions”, explains Matt with dismay. For Matthew who is always striving to improve, there was only one acceptable outcome: “I made a huge decision to leave the company, and I began working on my own”. Even though Matthew had a non compete clause in his employment agreement, he decided to prioritize his growth over his comfort, and left to work on his own until the clause expired.
A year later, it did. That’s when things started to pick up.
Looking for a Job, the Right Job
Once the non-compete expired, Matthew began applying and interviewing for jobs in the greater Philadelphia area. He was looking for a really specific position: “I wanted to hold onto a portion of sales in my desired new job, but I also wanted to diversify myself and learn other parts of business”.
After a longer than expected search for work, the perfect position finally presented itself – a Marketing Specialist role at a rapidly growing data and security firm in Delaware. Without thinking twice, he applied for the role. The initial steps were a breeze: “I had 3 years of sales management and administration at the state’s largest (by headcount) advertising agency, enough to get me past the filter and on the phone for an interview”, retells Matt. That first interview was with a phone screener, who took his information and asked some lower level questions about his experience and qualifications. The phone screener is the first step of the ladder, and makes sure you have the skills you list in your CV and that you are, potentially, the right person for the position. Matthew nailed it.
After a few days, Mathew received an email from the scheduling coordinator at the marketing company my potential employer has been using for years: “He was asking when I could have a phone interview with the CEO”, explains Matt, “this man is a well received author, marketer and entrepreneur. He is a trusted advisor and essentially the virtual CMO of my desired employer. Once sending off the times that I was available, I panicked. The sinking feeling of sudden realization that I probably didn’t have the level of content creation skill that they wanted began to eat me up”.
Matthew, driven by panic, started frantically searching his previous job’s to-do list and files for anything relevant to content creation. Actually, he was pleasantly surprised when he remembered that he had done a good amount of work generating copy. The problem was his design skills. They were stale and unused over the last 4 years, rendering him effectively useless. This was made worse by the fact Matt did not have good design tools on his home computer
As he worked in an advertising agency, he had no need to learn graphic design skills, or graphic design software. At any given day, he was surrounded by 50 people who did graphic design for a living. He had the Communications minor, but hadn’t tapped into those skills in years.
Then, the second obstacle came: the phone interview. He was stunningly well prepared, and decided to sell himself on his strengths – “knowledge and experience in creating lead generation programs and analytics as well as managing a sales organization and creating a custom CRM system with no coding experience” – but ‘the question’ finally came up: “What is your experience level with creative software and how often have you used it?”. Matthew answered honestly, and was pleasantly relieved to know that they didn’t expect him to be a modern-day Picasso with Adobe programs. The interview continued on the same positive pace, and ended on a high note: “He complimented me on my energy, enthusiasm and candor around my experience and mentioned continuing the conversation about my potential employment”.
Matthew was happy, but deep down he knew that to really get this job, he needed to walk the extra-mile. When reviewing his notes from the interview, he realized the CEO used the word “infographic” about 15 times when describing marketing content. “Being the salesmen I am, I decided the next interview would probably be in person and they would definitely want to see what I am capable of from a content creation perspective”, explains Matt , “it was in Googling infographics programs and I discovered Piktochart”.
Preparing To Kick Butts With Piktochart
Matthew is a thorough person, so he spent the next couple hours researching over a dozen infographic and design-related software for beginners. He was sold on Piktochart: “the tool itself is intuitive enough for even the most panic-stricken time crunched user, and by far the leading reason was the templates. I couldn’t believe how many amazing templates were at my disposal! Anything I could ask for, there it was.”
Initially, he budgeted 20 hours per infographic, and the interview was only in 4 days, but he was “blown away by how easy it was to convert something so amazing into my own custom chart”. Finally, he decided the price for premium was well worth a shot at an amazing job and that if he was hired, he would continue to use it.
With the templates on Piktochart, it took him 3 hours to make his first infographic. It was an informational piece on the dangers of not utilizing a core service the company provides. After working on it for a few hours, Matthew asked for feedback. The response was overwhelmingly positive: “I sent it over to a few good friends in the creative world asking for opinions. They were shocked…. ‘You did this!?!’ and ‘Matt you are great at this!!’”. After such an energetic confidence boost, Matthew worked on his second infographic, a roadmap of what he would do if hired tomorrow. 2 hours later he was done.
Matthew stopped by the local FedEx office the night before the interview and had them print up some high quality single page prints: “When they handed a test print of them to me, I had this feeling of confidence I’ve never experienced before. I knew then and there if I was as prepared for this interview as the last one, and with these charts, I’d get the job for sure.”
With that stunning confidence, Matthew went for the win.
The Interview Day
The interview day finally came, and Matthew was feeling extremely confident. That happens when you are over prepared and eager to share your work. Matt was ready to amaze the audience (the CEO, CFO and the CMO of the company!) with his Piktocharts, anxiously waiting the right moment: “The whole time in the back of my head I was thinking ‘ask me about my content! Ask me how I plan on making my lack of skills work!’”.
Finally the question came from the CMO Matthew had already interviewed with: “Well, I know you said you haven’t done a lot of content creation and that is ok, but how do you plan on completing the job’s tasks without such experience?”. Matthews brain went into full throttle as he sprung his Piktocharts on them: “Well in the last 4 days I just threw together some pieces to show what I can do given 4 days, no knowledge of the detail of services you provide other than the website, and a lack of experience. I hope this shows what I am capable of given the opportunity”.
“The look on their faces was exactly what I had hoped for. It took every ounce of my energy not to stand up and shout for joy”, retells Matt. “Right then and there I knew I got the job”.
The rest of the interview was the closest thing to a walk in the park, on a sunny San Francisco day. Matt spent the remainder of the meeting, which was scheduled for an hour but ran nearly 3, answering strategy based questions: “It felt like my first day”. The next day, less than 24 hours later, Matthew received an offer letter. Every penny he asked for plus a commission on sales.
Some Closing Words
“I can say with the utmost confidence that Piktochart was probably 50% of the reason I got the job. Without the charts I was just a sales guy looking for a marketing job. With the charts I was a humble marketing professional who understood sales”, explains Matt. He is a few weeks into his new job, where he uses Piktochart at least once a week to create everything from infographics to forms, reports and more.
Matthew suggests everyone in marketing, growth, content creation or reporting should be using Piktochart: “As I mentioned earlier, honestly is a big deal to me. I can honestly say this product is a MUST HAVE for anyone needing tools to create marketing collateral or fancy content. The time savings vs other software alone justify making the jump to premium membership, not to mention the additional templates and support available to premium members. I can’t wait to start seeing the inevitable spike in new customers from my creations”.
Applying for a Job Using Infographics – Step by Step Guide
After reading Matthew’s inspirational story, you probably wondered how you could create your own CV infographic to land the job of your dreams. It’s a pretty straightforward process, so here it goes:
Step 1: Self Analysis
Start by sitting down, and grabbing a cup of hot coffee. Take a second to analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. It’s OK, even expected, to have some weak points. Everyone does! A good exercise is to divide a paper in two. On one side, list your strengths and on the other, your weaknesses. You should start thinking how to maximize and play your strengths, but also cover your biggest weakness. Matt did it brilliantly.
Step 2: Analyzing the External Factors
Now that you know what your strengths are, it’s time to see how you would fit in the whole ecosystem. Start by analyzing the company you want to work in, the scope of your role, their competitors, and what they are currently doing. This will allow you to get a bird’s-eye view of the entire industry, while narrowing down on the specific place your target company occupies.
The entire goal of this exercise is to show up at the interview with something (an infographic) the interviewers don’t expect. A great idea is to explain them how you can solve a specific problem you think the company is facing.
Let’s see: After you go through this analysis, you’ll probably discover that the company you are interested in has a few weak spots. Maybe it needs to start exploring paid advertising, or their social media effort could use an improvement. You should think about how your personal strengths can cover the company’s weak spots.
Step 3: Structuring Your Infographic
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty! Grab another piece of paper, and start mapping out the basic structure of your infographic. It should contain the problem you are trying to solve for that company, how you will solve it, and why you are the perfect person to do it.
The entire theme of the infographic should be how you can solve a current problem they are having, and what the results could be if they were to hire you.
If you are looking for advice on transforming information into a clear, and to the point infographic, this post will help you out.
Step 4: Choosing a Template That Works & Designing The Infographic
The fourth step, and once you have a basic structure laid out, is to pick one of of the dozens of templates we have available that fits what you have in mind. Matt strongly recommends starting with one of our templates versus designing from a blank canvas, as it will save you hours.
Once you’ve picked the right one, you should start designing your own piece based on the template you selected.
If you are a first-timer with no design experience, don’t worry. Matt was a newbie too, and he aced his interview with Piktochart. You might find this post on creating your first infographic really useful.
Step 5: Preparing Some Winning Printouts and Slides
Once you are done, you should download your infographic as a .pdf or .png file, and head up to the closest printing store. Piktochart has a great built-in function that allows you to download your designs in seconds! If you would like to present slides at your interview, you can start designing your infographic as a presentation from the start (choose the presentation format before choosing your template) and then export it as slides or publish your infographic and switch to the presentation mode (if you have Wifi at your meeting). Either way, come prepared and show it to your interviewers!