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 major in Business Management and Industrial & Organizational Psychology did.
Fresh out of college, Matthew got a job at an advertising agency where he’d had summer internships, this time in a business development administration role. Coming from an engineering school, he’d 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-level 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", explained Matthew 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 he left to work on his own until the clause expired.
A year later, it did. And that's when things started to pick up.
Not Just Looking for a Job…
Once the non-compete agreement expired, Matthew began applying and interviewing for jobs in the greater Philadelphia area. He was looking for a 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", said 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 he or she 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 his potential employer had been using for years: “The coordinator asked when I could have a phone interview with the CEO", explained Matt.
“This man is a well-received author, marketer, and entrepreneur. He’s 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 skills that they wanted began to eat me up.”
Matthew, driven by panic, started frantically searching his previous job's to-do lists and files for anything relevant to content creation. 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 that Matt did not have good design tools on his home computer.
When he’d worked for the advertising agency, he’d had no need to improve his graphic design skills or acquire graphic design software. On any given day, he was surrounded by 50 people who did graphic design for a living. He had a Communications minor, but he hadn't tapped into those skills in years.
Then came Matthew’s second obstacle: the phone interview. He was well prepared, and he 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”eventually came up: "What is your experience level with creative software and how often have you used it?".
Matthew answered honestly, and he was pleasantly relieved to know that they didn't expect him to be a modern-day Picasso with Adobe programs. The interview continued at 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 go the extra mile. When reviewing his notes from the interview, he realized the CEO used the word infographic more than a dozen 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 was capable of from a content creation perspective", explained Matt. “It was through searching the internet for infographics programs that I discovered Piktochart”.
Preparing To Kick Butts With Piktochart
Matthew is a thorough person, so he spent the next couple of hours researching more than a dozen infographic and design-related applications geared towards 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 with the interview only 4 days away, he was a bit panicked. 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 PRO was worth the shot at an amazing job, and he knew 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. I got responses like ’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 he was hired. 2 hours later, he was done.
Matthew stopped by the local FedEx office the night before the interview to print some high quality single page infographics: "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, with these infographics, I'd get the job for sure."
With that boost of confidence, Matthew went for the win.
The Interview Day
The interview day finally came, and Matthew was feeling extremely confident. He 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 with whom Matthew had already interviewed: "Well, I know you said you haven't done a lot of content creation, and that’s ok, but how do you plan on completing the job's tasks without that experience?".
Matthew’s brain went full throttle as he sprung his Piktocharts on them: "Well, in the last 4 days, I threw together some pieces to show what I can do given limited time, 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", said Matthew. "Right then and there, I knew I got the job.”
The rest of the interview was essentially a walk in the park on a sunny San Francisco day. Matthew spent the remainder of the meeting, which was scheduled for an hour but ran nearly three, answering strategy-based questions: "It felt like my first day". The next day, Matthew received an offer letter for every penny he’d 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 visuals, I was just a sales guy looking for a marketing job. With the visuals, I was a humble marketing professional who understood sales", explained Matt. He now 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 versus other software alone justify making the jump to PRO 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 – A Step-by-Step Guide
After reading Matthew's inspirational story, you’re probably wondering how you can create your own resume infographic to land the job of your dreams. It's a relatively straightforward process:
Step 1: Self Analysis
Start by sitting down and grabbing a cup of coffee or tea. Take a second to analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. It's OK 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 side, list your weaknesses. You should start thinking how to maximize and play to your strengths while working to cover your biggest weakness.
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 business ecosystem. Start by analyzing the company with whom you’d like to work, the scope of your role, the company’s competitors, and what they’re currently doing. This will allow you to get a bird's-eye view of the entire industry while narrowing down the specific place your target company occupies.
The entire goal of this exercise is to show up at the interview with something (like an infographic) the interviewers don't expect. A great idea is to explain to them how you can solve a specific problem you think the company is facing.
After completing this analysis, you may discover that the company you are interested in has a few weak spots. Maybe it needs to start exploring paid advertising, or perhaps their social media efforts could use 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 the company, how you plan to 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 havin, and what the results could be if they were to hire you.
If you are looking for advice on transforming information into a clear, concise infographic, this post will help you out.
Step 4: Choosing a Template That Works & Designing The Infographic
The fourth step once you have a basic structure laid out is to choose from one 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 of time and effort.
Once you've picked the right template, you should start designing your visual.
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 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 to the closest print shop. Piktochart has a great built-in function that allows you to download your designs in seconds!
If you’d like to present slides at your interview, you can start designing your infographic as a presentation from the dashboard (choose the presentation format before choosing your template). Then you can 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!