My Unusual Job Search Tactic Helped Me Get a Job

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Perhaps no job search advice is more confusing than the instruction to "think outside the box" in order to get a hiring manager's attention. Anyone can come up with an outrageous way to get noticed, but not everyone can do it and actually get the job. Every once in a while you see a news segment about a guy who stood at an intersection wearing a sign that says, "I have an MBA and need a job. Hire me." And sure enough, he gets hired.

But if you talk to hiring managers, you'll also hear about applicants who washed the CEO's car or brought cookies to the office every day for a week. These people came across as peculiar -- even dangerous. Instead of a job offer, they received a restraining order. Naturally, you begin to wonder if anyone actually gets an offer from a reputable company using an unusual method. Or is it all an urban myth?

Sarah Feingold is the general counsel for Etsy.com, an online marketplace where artists sell their creations. As a jewelry maker, Feingold is part of Etsy's target audience, but as a lawyer, she saw more than a way to sell her products -- she saw a chance for the perfect job. We recently asked her how she managed to get a job that combines her two passions at such a hot website and found out that it wasn't done in the traditional way. Her story is proof that unusual tactics can work.

Q. How did you become the general counsel for Etsy? Did you deliberately set out to sidestep the traditional job search?

A. As a lifelong artist, I went to law school intending to become a lawyer for artists. In fact, while in law school I wrote the e-book 'Copyright for Artists.' Years later, I was working at a law firm in Rochester, N.Y., gaining valuable experience, but I wasn't passionate about my job. I started selling my jewelry on Etsy.com and I was very impressed by many aspects of the site. And then I started doing research on the company.

At one point, I reached out to Etsy's customer service. I explained that I was an artist and attorney and [that] I would love to work with them. I got an immediate reply from my current co-worker, Emily. She thanked me for writing and said she'd keep me in mind.

I continued to research Etsy and I realized that they did not have an in-house attorney. I knew that as Etsy's in-house attorney I could help the company in many ways. I wrote up a short pitch and sent it to Emily. From what I understand, Emily forwarded my message to Rob Kalin, Etsy's CEO, and eventually we spoke on the phone.

After hanging up the phone, I booked a ticket from Rochester to New York. I sent Rob a cover letter and a resume and told him I was coming to town for an interview. Rob and I met and I was hired on the spot. I sold most of my worldly belongings (including my car) and moved to New York [a] month later. That was almost four years ago.

Q. Did you think you'd actually get the job or were you surprised?

A. No one was more surprised than me. I still can't believe it.

Q. Did you have a plan B in case your resume didn't get noticed?

A. I was gaining experience at a plan B job (which I obtained through traditional methods) and was reaching for plan A.

Q. In the message you sent CEO Rob Kalin, did you make a case for your qualifications or did you focus on Etsy's need for counsel?

A. I focused on Etsy's need for counsel and the things I could bring to the table based on my qualifications.

Q. Do you think sidestepping the usual methods is right for everyone or only in certain circumstances?

A. Trust me, this tactic is not for everyone. I would not suggest that everyone book airline tickets and request an interview with a CEO. My story illustrates the need to do your research and not be afraid to take calculated risks.



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