After graduating from Davidson College in 2009, Marian Schembari sent out scads of resumes and cover letters to the big publishing companies she wanted to work for. No results.
So she decided to sell herself direct.
Using Facebook's self-serve ad technology, she created eight ads in a two-week campaign. They featured her face with a short headline that said "I want to work for..." then listed her favorite companies: HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group, Random House, Inc., Rodale, Inc., Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, McGraw Hill and Hachette Filipacchi Media.
Within two weeks, her ad received thousands of clicks and she had two scheduled interviews. "I was just blown away by the success," said Schembari, 24, who is now a digital account manager at Young & Shand in Auckland, New Zealand.
With the matching process between jobs seekers and employers becoming increasingly difficult, one way to cut through the noise is to take out your own ad on Facebook or LinkedIn. Targeted advertisements can help you reach out directly to your dream employer, instead of passively waiting for a job posting. With 100 million users on LinkedIn and 500 million on Facebook, you're likely to find a hiring manager who wants you.
"Targeted advertising helps you reach the decision-makers in a relevant and engaging way," said Ryan Roslanksy, director of product management for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions in San Francisco.
How Google Hires
| Resume Debate: PDF v. Word | How to Get Paid What You Deserve
Facebook has offered precise, targeted self-service ads since 2007. LinkedIn began its targeted ad service in January 2011.
Both sites have a tool that allows you to create an ad, link it to your personal website or LinkedIn or Facebook page, and target specific individuals and hiring managers. For instance, the settings allow you to target women who say they are in a hiring position at an advertising firm in New York.
Clicks or Impressions
You can pay for the ad via credit card, with LinkedIn charging a minimum of $2 a bid plus a one-time fee of $5. Facebook costs a minimum of $1 a day. You also have to bid the price of your ad -- thus if someone else is willing to pay more to reach that same female hiring manager at the ad firm, their ad will appear on that person's Facebook or LinkedIn page and not yours.
Payment options are either by "clicks," the number of times someone clicks through to your website, or you can buy "impressions," the number of times your ad appears to your targeted hiring manager or company.
To maximize chances of connecting with the right employer, it's best to buy "clicks" instead of "impressions," said Jacob Young, 34, interim chief executive officer at SocialTown LLC, a Chicago-based social media consulting firm. That way, you're assured employers will click through to your landing page with your resume and related material about your fitness for a particular job.
"If you want to be sure people see your resume, you want to go with the pay per clicks," Young said.
The most important item to include in your ad's headline is the name of the company you want work for, said Schembari. That directness will draw the attention of a potential employer. It's better to simply say "I want to work for [name of organization]" than look for a specific position because it exposes you to more options within a company, said Schembari.
Design a Simple Landing Page
Once a user clicks on your ad, he will find himself on your landing page. Your site should have a copy of your resume and your contact information in an easy-to-read format, Young said. Do not make the process of finding you difficult for a recruiter or an employer.
A personal website as your landing page can be more professional than a LinkedIn or Facebook page, Schembari said. Plus, a well-organized website shows off digital design skills.
Including testimonials of people you have worked with is a good idea as long as they agree, Schembari said. Having such references can spark a potential employer's interest.
And, of course, everyone prefers a happy worker. Make sure you're smiling in the photo you include.
Target Your Employers
Effective targeting is key for your campaign, Young said. Research potential employers. For example, if you would like to work in digital marketing, target several of the top firms.
If you know where the company has offices, you can geographically target your ad. You may also want to focus your ad on people over a certain age, who are more likely to have sway in an organization, he added.
But be careful not to be too limited, Schembari added. Many times someone without hiring power will see -- and be struck by -- your ad. That person, if impressed, may forward your information to the appropriate person within a company.
And remember, targeted ads should not become your only method of reaching out to employers, said David Perry, managing partner of Ottawa-based recruiting firm Perry-Martel International and author of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0.
Continue networking, looking at job postings and sending out cover letters.
Chris Prentice is a reporter for FINS.com, where this story originally appeared. Write to her here.