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The end of ‘Dear Lisa Rudgers’…We interview the job-seeker who launched an internet campaign to get her dream job…

Back in October last year we followed the story of Lindsay Blackwell from Michigan, USA, who took her jobsearch into her own hands when she created an interactive job application, with a website and video, to apply for her dream Social Media Director job at the University of Michigan.  

Lisa Rudgers happened to be the Vice President of Communications for the University of Michigan, the recruiter for the role and after Lindsey planned her internet campaign, the title of her social media campaign and website…

It started; “Dear Lisa Rudgers, please hire me. My name is Lindsay Backwell, and I want to be the University of Michigan’s Social Media Director. I love Michigan….”

Nothing revolutionary there, but when you combine a powerful Video covering letter, with the music and editing of a media wiz, what you get is an innovative and very successful viral marketing campaign, that ended up being watched, shared and retweeted by thousands of fans from 78 Countries. It was with great pleasure that we spoke to the very employable, Lindsay Blackwell on the very day she has some exciting updates on her story….

Tell our readers a little bit about the Dear Lisa Rudgers campaign – When and why did you come up with this scheme?

It wasn’t any one thing in particular–I found out that the University of Michigan was hiring a Social Media Director and knew I had to apply. But I also knew that submitting my resume into their job server wasn’t going to position me as a strong enough candidate–I’m young and lack salaried experience in this field. So I decided to do something that would not only get me noticed, but demonstrate my ability to do this job well.

I spent several days poring over the job description and considering other ‘extreme job hunting’ efforts I’d heard about in the past before that proverbial lightbulb went off. I decided to make an ‘interactive cover letter’ of sorts and use my intuitions about social media to launch a campaign centered around the letter. I set to work with a very clear vision of what I wanted to ultimately accomplish, both aesthetically with the site and in terms of the phases of the actual campaign, and I figured out how to get there along the way.

It took me from Friday evening straight through until very early on Monday morning to finish the content, site design, and video. I launched the campaign through email, Facebook, and Twitter before I headed into work that day, and continued expanding the campaign throughout the coming weeks.

Using social media to apply for employment is not new, but your campaign is also innovative – how far has your campaign traveled and why do you think it has got the coverage it has? 

It certainly isn’t. I’ve long admired efforts like Alec Brownstein’s AdWords campaign and Biana Cadloni’s “Hire Me Chipotle” site. But I also knew that in order for my campaign to be as successful as I was envisioning, it had to be unique.

The “Dear Lisa” homepage has had nearly 70,000 page views from over 18,000 unique visitors in 78 countries. It’s been picked up by several major news outlets and a lot of blogs. I think “Dear Lisa” has gotten the coverage it has because it’s something refreshing, something genuine–it tells a very clear story of who I am and what my dreams are, and everyone can relate to that. The support from the public has been absolutely incredible and I’ve so enjoyed following the many conversations this campaign has created.

And how are you getting on? Have you had any direct contact with Lisa herself and have you heard if she is impressed with your efforts?!! 

I am getting on just fine–couldn’t be happier, in fact! I just launched the ending to the “Dear Lisa” story. Although I never heard back from the University about a second interview, I was offered an even better opportunity with a local digital marketing agency called Ingenex. I start as the Social Media Director on Wednesday, and I couldn’t possibly be happier to be joining their team.

Lisa did tell me when she first reached out (less than 12 hours after I launched the campaign) that in all her years of reviewing resumes, she hadn’t seen something as creative and persistant as my approach. I’m very thankful to Lisa for giving me a chance to interview and for being so generous about unknowingly lending her name to my story.

Whats next? We think ‘Dear Lisa Rudgers, the Movie’, should be on the cards! 

“Ha! I’ve heard that a few times–in fact, the rights to the story have already been claimed! As far as what’s next, I’m already prepping for my first few pitches at Ingenex. I’m thrilled to be moving into the agency landscape–I love getting to work with a variety of clients for my freelance graphic design work, so I think that this will be a perfect fit for me. Ingenex also runs a local professional development nonprofit called LA2M (Lunch Ann Arbor Marketing), so I won’t have to sacrifice my interest in NPOs, either. The Ingenex team also teaches New Media Driver’s License classes at Michigan State University, so I’m thrilled to be working at an agency that is continually reflecting on this industry in an academic context as well. I truly couldn’t have cooked up an opportunity better-suited to my talents and interests–or a team of people who are so truly good at what they do.”

Any advice you can give TheEmployable readers on using Social Media to make a story or video go viral? 

Be honest. That’s solid life advice, too, but the same is true in social media and viral strategy. There will always be content that goes viral for its own reasons without any real marketing–but when you’re talking about making something go viral, I think the most important thing is to be genuine and transparent about your message, your company, etc. The Internet may seem vast and wildly temperamental, but at its root is a community of people–and people like to share stories about other people, not the prosaic content so many companies waste time pushing out to the public. Social media is ultimately about conversations–construct your content in a listening framework, and you’ll invite success.

And Lindsay certainly did invite success by using Social Media to power her own story and we wish Lindsay all the best with her new job and her career. One thinks this might be just the opening chapter on an ongoing success story…

We empower you to take ten minutes out to check out Lindsay’s website dearlisarudgers.com and the two videos that she has created to such great effect. Perhaps her pro-action will help you on your own journey, it certainly has us! P.S TheEmployable even get a brief mention in the second video!!!! 


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