How one woman got retweeted by the queen of Jordan, got the attention from tier 1 VC’s and the CEO & CMO and landed a job interview at Airbnb, while reinventing the traditional resume in the process.
Looking to get hired into your new, dream job? Competition is high? How do you get your foot in the door, in a way the recruiters and hiring managers are rolling over each other to hire you? Take an example from how Nina Mufleh (follow her on Twitter) planned, executed and now is reinventing the resume.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a number of tweets sharing this website Nina4Airbnb, which was designed to attract the attention of Airbnb executives. It worked, as both Brian and Jonathan, Airbnb’s CEO & CMO, were paying attention and responded to Nina. I was blown away by the design, execution and creativity of Nina’s project to land a job interview at Airbnb. It made me realize the way people apply to jobs, especially at hot startups receiving a large amount of incoming resumes, had changed significantly.
Why did she do this; from hew own website:
I fell in love with Airbnb two years ago. First, as a guest, then as a host, and somewhere in between, I found myself completely enamored by Airbnb’s internal culture.
I moved to San Francisco last year with the hopes of landing a job at the company. I soon realized that I was up against thousands of extremely talented people who were all just as interested in the company as I am, but I;m determined to find a way to contribute to your future.
Little did I know I would meet Nina just a couple of days later this all happened. While presenting at the 500Startups conference in San Francisco, I was introduced to Nina, as she wanted to speak with me. Just fresh out of Airbnb, she wanted to get my story, inside scoops and why I had left one of the most desirable workplaces in The Valley right now.
We met a couple of days later, where Nina agreed to answer a couple of questions on how her project came together and the execution on her plan. Since we last spoke, Nina has turned her project into a white paper, so you can follow your own plan and land a dream job at your favorite startup.
Meet Nina Mufleh, one smart lady mastering social media
You can listen to our conversation, or read the transcript below.
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>> TheNextCorner: So, Nina, tell me a little bit your background and specifically we come at your resume that you published online. We started a conversation, but what got you here, and why are we talking here?
>> Nina Mufleh: I’m originally a California native. I was born in Los Angeles. I spent my life, the majority of it, between Los Angeles and the Middle East, predominantly in Jordan, where my family is from. For the past ten years, that’s where I built my career. I was very fortunate to have access to a lot of great opportunities in the Middle East. But about a year ago, I decided that I wanted to increase my opportunities and the work that I wanted to do and work with really stimulating companies in a high intensity environment. So I moved out to San Francisco, and I’ve spent the past year understanding the lay of the land here and seeing what opportunities exist, but also I was confronted by the fact that I don’t have a network, an existing network of professional relationships, which is very valuable when you’re getting started in a new city.
So as much as I was going through the traditional routes of job interviews and applications, I constantly felt that there was a challenge that I was facing that maybe most people that have been in San Francisco or the U.S. for a while weren’t facing. So after a year of going through this process over and over again, I decided to analyze what assets I had and what assets I specifically had control over and how I could leverage those to create the same opportunities that I had in the Middle East. And time and again, it came down to the fact that I’d established the reputation as a leading social media practitioner and strategist in the Middle East, but that was hard to translate over to here. So I did what I guess I do best, and I created a social media campaign out of it, which I must say the success of it sort of beyond my expectations and the interest is extremely humbling, and I’m so appreciative of the world being involved.
>> TheNextCorner: Can you explain what kind of campaign you set up and how did you get the press that your campaign has gotten and the results so far?
>> Nina Mufleh: Absolutely. So initially, the idea was that I wanted to build a campaign to engage Airbnb hosts around the world to activate that community to promote my message. After a while, experiencing the technical delays that I was going through in terms of building that social media campaign, I had to stop it. I realized that even though the design and the development of the concepts are great, there were too many factors, again, outside of my control. So to go through this campaign, I started thinking back to the assets. What is it that I have? I have knowledge of the Middle East. It’s a region that if I do a bit more research on the tourism sector specifically, I can contextualize it. I can weed out the relevant information and create something that I feel would add value to the organization.
>> TheNextCorner: Which organization are you talking about?
>> Nina Mufleh: To Airbnb.
>> TheNextCorner: Okay.
>> Nina Mufleh: It was an experiment, so I wanted to be able to channel my energy and my passion as a community member into something that could add business value to them, and I was aware that probably the Middle East wouldn’t be on their horizon for a few years, but regardless, I thought it’s pertinent information. Some of the information in there is culturally sensitive so the fact that Bedouin tradition is built on a concept of hospitality. I wanted to get some pieces of information out there as well. So my intention was to duplicate the site. I worked with a fantastic designer who had the most amazing patience to deal with me and my detail-oriented nit pickiness, and it took us about a week to put it all together. And my next step was I thought, again, leveraging my relationships in the Middle East, I’ll send an e-mail to a few friends that I have there at night here, so it’s daytime there. They would start tweeting about it. I texted maybe about 20 or 30 people would actually respond to my e-mail, have a reaction and tweet something so that if I managed to get this on the radar of anyone at Airbnb, if they clicked the hashtag, they would see that there’s at least a little bit of social proof, so a couple of people globally talking about it. What blew me away was the fact that by the time I woke up, it spiraled beyond my expectations, and people genuinely thought that this was a really cool experiment, so the ripple effect started by . . . the Middle East had an amazing reaction to it. The Queen of Jordan who’s fantastically supportive, and I think instrumental in the success of this campaign tweeted directly to Brian Chesky about it. Chris Sacca saw that, and so the viral coefficient increased exponentially at that point once a few very powerful recognized influencers saw it, talked about it and then the press came in.
>> TheNextCorner: Yep.
>> Nina Mufleh: That sort of blew me away. It took me a while to digest when I got the call from Business Insider that they would even be interested in talking about my work and the experiment that I was running.
>> TheNextCorner: Yeah. So your campaign consisted very much building on your strengths then setting out a specific strategy how to reach certain people, make sure the campaign was well-designed, and then have the distribution through relationships that you already have.
>> Nina Mufleh: Absolutely.
>> TheNextCorner: Right? Very well. And timing wise?
>> Nina Mufleh: Timing I think is the key. It wasn’t an accident that I utilized the time difference between the Middle East and here to my advantage and also from my experience working with press cycles and looking at conversation cycles on the social web in the past and really being able to dissect and analyze that, I was aware that if I launched this on a Tuesday, I’d have this optimal experience of being able to get the momentum going until Friday and I saw a direct drop in conversation rates Friday evening to Sunday evening and then it picked up again on Monday, so I was really able to capitalize on those ways.
>> TheNextCorner: Yeah. What else did you do to get more distribution? You already had the sweet spot with the people in the Middle East. Were you planning to do other things if that didn’t work?
>> Nina Mufleh: My plan was to just e-mail it directly to the same people that I had contact with at Airbnb. Over the past year, I’ve used Twitter to build relationships directly with some of the team members, and I’m constantly amazed at how open they’ve been to exchanging their personal e-mail addresses and their professional e-mail addresses, as well as meeting for coffees and conversations around my interests. So I knew that I had the ability to get to them directly. What I wasn’t sure of is if I had the ability to sustain their attention enough to actually click on the link. So looking at past campaigns that I did, I was aware that there’s a big funnel in terms of taking somebody from attention in one moment to desire in clicking the link and then action upon that desire. And I think that’s where the social proof came in.
>> TheNextCorner: Yeah.
>> Nina Mufleh: Which other than tapping into my network, what I was able to do was look at my own social media presence so, like I mentioned earlier, I managed over the past few years of building my career in the Middle East to build a pretty average-sized, decent social network on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and a personal blog that I run just for fun about my travel adventures. And I wanted to really make sure that I had a very specific, platform relevant content that I would be able to share directly with followers and people that are interested in engaging with me there and then give them the opportunity to see how the conversation was playing out through a hashtag that I created, which initially, I have to say, the hashtag I was thinking of going with #NinaForAirbnb, but I got great advice from a friend of removing myself one degree from that conversation and just seeing how it organically developed. So I think the less I made it about me, and this is something that I’ve always recommended to brands that we’ve worked with, is the less branded it is, the less it is about you and the more it is about the concept, the more chance that it has of natural, organic, viral growth. And I think this is a great example of this.
>> TheNextCorner: So wait, what did the hashtag turn out to be?
>> Nina Mufleh: It turned out to be #AirbnbMe, so me being the Middle East but at the same time, it sort of has that play on word or of the individual.
>> TheNextCorner: Did you come up with this or somebody else?
>> Nina Mufleh: A friend of mine actually recommended it to me.
>> TheNextCorner: Okay. You were pushing that hashtag. It was not organically . . .
>> Nina Mufleh: It wasn’t. I’ve seen a few others organically come up. Jonathan Mildenhall, the CMO of Airbnb, when he saw the reports tweeted a hashtag #CallNina and I saw that duplicate itself in a few other conversations which I found quite cool, it was an amazing way for me to follow the conversations. The volume on Twitter, I’m still going through thousands of tweets that have come my way directly and indirectly. So I’m grateful that there’s a hashtag where I can actually engage with users and thank them at least through favoriting their content. Thank them for being part of this and sharing the content.
>> TheNextCorner: And so did you do any preparation on your other profiles before you actually launched the campaign to make sure that if somebody does a Google search and did you pay attention to that while that’s being mentioned further by mail, Facebook, Pinterest and all my profiles up to date, did you pay attention to that?
>> Nina Mufleh: Absolutely. As a social media strategist that is something that I’ve definitely taught organizations to do plus other high profile personalities to do, and it’s something I’ve always paid attention to for myself. What is my personal brand? How do I come across for somebody that’s searching for me the first time? I say one extra step that I took in this case was being, for the past few months I’ve been very aggressively trying to go after Airbnb specifically because I think the opportunity to work with Jonathan Mildenhall would just be an amazing . . .
>> TheNextCorner: I can only attest to that.
>> Nina Mufleh: I would imagine. You’re very lucky to have had that opportunity. It’s something that as a longtime fan of Coca-Cola and Airbnb, I think just my selfish reasons are I think I can learn so much from him as an individual. So this was a little catered to his past experience. If you noticed the more subtle images in there, all of my social media profiles, with the exception of LinkedIn, have me in a Coca-Cola t-shirt and the picture that went out with the Business Insider article have me in Airbnb t-shirt. So I thought even on a subtle level, I really want to drive in these messages and capitalize on both those brands.
>> TheNextCorner: Yeah.
>> Nina Mufleh: . . . however I can.
>> TheNextCorner: Good job.
>> Nina Mufleh: Thanks.
>> TheNextCorner: You talked about your passion for travel. Tell me a little bit more what kind of travel did you do? Where do you like to travel to? And tell me a little bit more, or tell me one great experience that you’ve had traveling?
>> Nina Mufleh: Wow. It’s hard to narrow down the great experiences, so I’ll start with how I like to travel, where I like to travel. I grew up in a family that prioritized learning about different cultures and understanding them. And I was very fortunate to have these experiences from a young age, be it going abroad with my parents, taking advantage of school trips where we actually competed in the region in the Middle East against other schools, and we would be hosted within our competitors’ homes. So again, that’s a very similar experience to Airbnb and this connection that it creates.
But also in the past few years, I decided I wanted to step away from the idea of group travel in the sense that I realized I was going to the same places, the same destinations which I love over and over again, just with different friends each time. And I thought I want the opportunity to just immerse myself in another culture or another city, not necessarily always a culture, and get a deeper understanding for that. So that’s where I really started using Airbnb.
I took a couple months between consultancy projects, I guess you could say moved to New York, had some fantastic experiences on my own over there. Past that, I got a little more . . . the wanderlust in me, and I decided I wanted to go to Iran where my mother’s side of the family is originally from, but I’d never had the opportunity to go. So I went there, explored that. I think that was probably one of the most unbelievably mind-opening trips and powerful trips that I’ve ever taken in my life.
>> TheNextCorner: And what’s higher in your list? Where do you want to travel next?
>> Nina Mufleh: Wow, that’s also challenging to answer. I think the U.S. has a lot of very interesting destinations that I haven’t taken advantage of.
>> TheNextCorner: Yeah.
>> Nina Mufleh: And in the ten years that I was in the Middle East, I remember constantly coming across an option. Was it Alaska? Was it the South or New Orleans or wherever? And thinking I was there for so long, and I didn’t take advantage of that and so now I think that I have an opportunity to actually reverse that mistake that I made earlier, so I say that most likely, I’m going to make some geographical choices over the next few years, at least since I know I’m committed to being here for the next few years, and then seeing what opportunities I have to explore the rest of the word.
>> TheNextCorner: I’ve been here nine years in the U.S, and I haven’t traveled a lot, so it’s high on my list as well.
>> Nina Mufleh: That’s awesome.
>> TheNextCorner: Next to Argentina.
>> Nina Mufleh: Oh, absolutely. I’ve never explored Latin America.
>> TheNextCorner: I loved Latin America.
>> Nina Mufleh: And I think that’s a place that . . . food wise, culture wise and people wise, I just think that’s a really interesting place I’d love to be.
>> TheNextCorner: Well, thank you very much . . .
>> Nina Mufleh: Thank you.
>> TheNextCorner: . . . for this conversation. And I will make sure that you get some extra exposure.
>> Nina Mufleh: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
A couple of points we can learn from Nina’s project;
- Do something remarkable to get the attention. As Seth godin has written in The Purple Cow, being remarkable these days is a good way to get noticed. These days, Airbnb gets thousands of resume’s per month. Having a remarkable way to get noticed will get you in front of the line to get a call back from a recruiter.
- Know your audience. Two of the founders of Airbnb have a design background. The efforts Nina put into her new digital resume shows she has taken their background in consideration in the design.
- Leverage your network & relationships. How to get noticed can be accelerated when you can leverage your network to broadcast your message. As Nina’s website was tweeted by the queen of Jordan, it really helped to get the message in front of the right people really fast.
You can now follow Nina’s plan using her white paper she has just published today! Download it here…