Zendaya and the talent acquisition process

18 months ago I signed up for an Airtel annual roaming package for Rs 15,000. When it came up for renewal I was offered Rs 15,000 for 6 months. I assumed it was because COVID was over and things were normalising. When it came up for renewal last week, I was offered Rs 15,000 for ONE month! I whined loudly on Twitter and was told it was based on my usage patterns and history. Thanks to the power of digital and AI, Airtel can offer you a very personal price.

How about harnessing that same power for job hunting?

Ad Break: Personal happiness section

I’m so excited – promos for a radio segment, Indeed’s Simply Better Work on Kiss 92 (Singapore) are on! Paul Writer helped with the campaign which launches during the evening drive slot. Strategy is mentally stimulating but somehow when I hear my ad or spot my billboard or enter my event the thrill is different. It takes me back to the start of my career when my Ogilvy boss would take me to smell the sawdust as they put up booths for the next day’s event.

Enough with the nostalgia. Let’s get to Zendaya and her resume.

I’m sure Zendaya has a resume too – her agent probably sends it out to potential producers of shows and events. But how does she ensure that Mrs Nita Ambani wants her resume when she is planning a mega event? I can hear you saying, duh! Zendaya is a brand, she’s famous! True, true. She is also well networked – her co-ambassadors for Bulgari are Anne Hathaway and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. This ensures that you’re prepped and keen to consider Zendaya for your gig even before her resume shows up. I’d hope she sends a custom crafted gilt-edged one but frankly it would not matter much.

How do I work the talent acquisition process

I got one role because someone I met at an alumni event went for morning walks with the hiring manager. And another because I had a casual coffee with the person leaving the role a month before they quit. And for my first job post MBA I pounded the Bangalore pavements with a resume because I really wanted to be in advertising and advertising agencies did not want to hire from the IIMs (thank you Chandradeep Mitra for taking pity on a junior!).

I’m a big fan of pull marketing vs push. Being headhunted is cool, and ensures that the potential employer has an interest in hiring you. I wrote this piece on sales vs marketing on substack primarily for businesses, but it applies to a personal brand too. Basically, you have to do a Zendaya – be known in your field, do a bunch of different roles in your space, and hang out with the right people! The more you network, the more likely that you will hear about an opening before it goes into the public domain!

What about that resume!

I hear people talking about professional resume writers. I think they would help to crystallise how you want to present yourself. When I’ve helped people with rewriting their resume, I have suggested that they have different versions for different facets of their experience. Like Zendaya could have one for singing and another one for acting and another one for singing and acting.

Indeed is the world’s number one job portal which means they host millions of jobs. And millions of candidates applying to those jobs. The least you can do is ensure that you drop irrelevant or negative information from your resume eg don’t talk about experience in a different geography or industry without connecting it to the one you are trying for.

Customise the talent acquisition process with “market of one”

Learn from Airtel’s personalisation strategy. Create a resume that suits the kind of jobs you are targeting. Then customise it for every single job you apply for! You can practically run a campaign that is customised. Pick your dream companies, set up alerts for jobs at these companies, connect with 5 hiring managers per organization and write posts tagging those organizations. Yes, it is hard work, but very fruitful.

In the days when I was pounding the streets it was pretty tough to get a neat printout of one resume let alone make hundreds of custom ones. But with the tech today it is quite easy. And, oh, before I forget, ChatGPT isn’t that great at resumes – it tends to blah too much. Stick to the resume builders on Indeed and elsewhere.

Are you a hedgehog?

Justin Bieber is retiring to focus on his health and his family. He sold his catalog for $200 million so that’s pretty good monetisation of his passion. The best jobs are when you can find the intersection of passion, perfection and profitability. Rama Bijapurkar introduced me to this concept and I keep returning to it both for my personal direction-finding and for businesses. It’s from Good to Great by Jim Collins – here’s my take on it. It’s useful to figure out what you really want to do.

If you’re wondering if I paid for my exorbitant roaming connection, no, I didn’t. I received a call from Airtel’s social saying that the pricing was for current customers and it would go back to Rs 15,000 per year once I stopped being a roaming customer.


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