#301 In which our hero reveals the rather unlikely story of how he got his job, part 2.
When we left off, I was again trying to get my foot in the door of a new agency.
I saw the creative director’s tweet, so I fired off the following email:
Word on the street is you're back in the market for a copywriter. I'd love to continue the conversation we begin at Starbucks way back when.
My resume is attached.
I didn’t hear anything back for two days. On the afternoon of the second day I figured I’d send a “hey, you got my resume, right?” sort of email just to remind him that I was still interested. I was also very aware that last time we talked it was mentioned that I didn’t have a lot of online experience. I was assured this wasn’t a big deal, but it still concerned me. As it so happened, I had just finished a really cool internal website project—featuring zombies. It was for the agency Halloween party, and the art director I worked with did a fantastic job. As of this writing the site is still up and functioning at this link, but I imagine it will be taken down at some point. I thought it really expressed my creativity and I hoped this guy would appreciate it.
So I logged into my email account to send off the reminder email and the zombie website link, to find this email waiting for me:
Hey man...good hearing from you. Quite honestly...I worked with you and Brad says great things about you (which is key) but quite honestly, my guess is you're a bit "high" for our salary...I wanted to hire someone a bit more junior...not unless you're interested in taking a big pay cut ;-) Be happy to chat or grab a cup of coffee with you sometime...thanks for the note.
I was disappointed, but what could I do? If they were looking for a entry level writer, I most certainly was out of their price range. So I wrote back:
Yeah, if you're looking for an entry level person, I'm sure I'm way out of consideration.
I'd love to work with you and Brad again. If a senior level position opens up I hope you'd consider me.
In the meantime, here's a project I worked on recently that was a lot of fun:
It's a website for our agency Halloween party. We had a week's worth of games, including a contest where you had to shoot cut-out zombies with a NERF shotgun. I wrote everything you see, including the scripts for the PSA videos on the bottom of the page. I shot and edited those, too.
I'll hit you up for that coffee sometime when I'm in the area.
And I figured that that was it. But then, about 20 minutes later, I got this email:
Dude..I consider myself a zombie expert...me and my son. Have you read The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks? Classic! Thanks for sending...keep in touch...I'll be sure to do the same.
I had no idea that this guy was into zombies, of course. But fate seemed to give me an in. So I followed up with this:
I haven't read that, but I did read "World War Z" by the same author. Highly recommended.
Not to brag, but I won "Best Zombie" in the costume contest this year.
And got this email in return:
So I sent back this:
(Actually, this isn't the photo I sent back. I had a much better one, a close-up on my face where you could tell I was wearing one red contact.)
Dude...LOVE the red contact...killer! Where did you get it?
And at this point, I’m kinda like, what’s going on here? We’re chatting back and forth like old friends, but the whole point of this exchange was that I wanted a job, and it seems like we’re moving away from that. But I figured what the hell and sent this:
The contacts are a brand called "Gothika." You can get all sorts of crazy lenses. I bought these online a couple years ago for a vampire costume (photo attached).
Get the fuck outta here! That rocks! Did you shave your head?
Keep in mind that there are actual emails I'm cutting and pasting here. So when I get a f-bomb email in response, like we're best buddies, I’m still very much where’s this going? But replied with this:
You bet. Shaved my head, shaved off my goatee, the works.
The best part? I lost the costume contest. To a guy who came in drag. Three years later, I'm STILL bitter about it.
And then, got this in response:
I want to hire you more than ever now.
I was home when I received this email and called The Scientist over. “What am I supposed to make of this?” I asked her. I mean, I was all about winning this guy over and making the jump to another agency, but then I started to worry that he was some sort of flake that would make a hiring decision based on a Halloween costume.
But, things at my current agency were really rather shitty, so I continued to play along.
Shit, say the word and I'll shave my head TONIGHT.
And I honestly figured that would be the end of it. This guy would send me an email that said Ha, ha! But unfortunately, like I said before, you’re too expensive for us. But keep in touch!
What I did not expect is this:
Let's grab coffee next week. I think it was the vampire picture. Let me know what works for you.
So we met for coffee. Spent the first 20 minutes talking about zombie movies. This guy, as it turns out, is a zombie NUT. He told me how he and his son will play a game where they pick the best places to hole up in case of a zombie apocalypse. He is INTO zombies.
The funny this is, I’m not. I mean, yeah, I enjoy a good zombie movie as much as the next guy, but I like most monster movies. It was just through a weird twist of fate that I suggested that the agency Halloween party be zombie themed, allowing me the present a zombie website for consideration and giving me the excuse to dress up like a zombie, which in turn gave me an in to showcase my vampire costume from three years ago which, it appears, so impressed this guy that he decided to interview me again.
I mean, I have a good portfolio, and I took his advice and updated it with samples that better showed off my digital experience and my “big idea” creativity in general. I think (I hope!) that he wouldn’t have given the job to any smuck who happened to share his love for zombie movies.
So, long story short, he did offer me the job in the end. Not on the spot or anything, I still had to jump through several painful hopes for their HR department—including talking to SEVEN different HR people. But here I am, working for one of the largest agencies in northeast Ohio, the largest privately-held digital agency in the world, and the #1 “Agency to Watch” as rated by industry mag Advertising Age.