How a ‘Mockup’ Can Land You a Job

When you’re looking for work, you need all the advantages you can get. Here’s an idea that can show off your skills in a way that goes way beyond a resume or code portfolio. Some call it a “mockup strategy.”

Calculating ReportsA mockup strategy requires knowing a prospective employer — and the position you’re aiming for – exceptionally well. Once you’ve learned all there is to learn about them, go out and do the job as though you actually hold the position. Then present the mockup of your work along with your resume to the person in charge of hiring for that position – or even the CEO.

It worked for David Rogier and Tristan Walker, who managed to hit home runs with this approach. Rogier describes the experience in a blog post.

In Rogier’s case, he wanted to work for Evernote. He went out and interviewed 23 new users about their experience with the company’s on-boarding approach, drafted some ideas to improve it, wrapped in 10 slides, and emailed it off to Evernote’s CEO. The result: He got an email back 30 minutes later asking him to come in for an interview.

Tristan Walker’s experience was similar. After inundating Foursquare’s CEO with eight separate emails asking for a job, Walker found a couple of companies who’d be willing to advertise on Foursquare. (Important note: He introduced himself as a student and not a Foursquare employee.) In his ninth email to the CEO, Walker told him he’d found several new advertisers. This time, the CEO responded and he was hired. Eventually, he ran the company’s business development.

Magic of Mockups

Taking the time to do actual work, on your own, before applying for a position demonstrates several things to a prospective employer. First, it shows you’re hot to work there. Second, it gives them a taste of what you can do. Finally, it makes your application stand out among the  slush pile of resumes. Indeed, it might help you bypass the slush pile entirely.

Of course, while the strategy can be effective in grabbing the attention of hiring managers, it isn’t always going to get you in the door. Rogier ran into this himself. He sent three versions of sample work to a hiring manager, who never responded. In that case, ask yourself: Do you really want to work for such a rude company?

5 Responses to “How a ‘Mockup’ Can Land You a Job”

    • The ability to schedule using corporate software is critical for a proj. mgr. Create a schedule with milestones that suit your industry. Write a Statement of Work (SOW– some places will call it a Scope of Work) that matches it. If you have MS Project or other scheduling sw, enter this mock schedule and output as PDFs to attach to the SOW. Include a staffing list, by title/experience/responsibilities.

    • Project Manager can be easier than the example shown.

      Find something that they will agree should be improved.

      Find out whether they use their own resources (Amazon, NetApp) or outsource the work offshore (HDS). You need this for the Work Breakdown Structure(WBS) and scope statement to be credible. If you use MS Project or Open Project, it is best to make a pdf of the docs as many people don’t have either project software and won’t be able to open your samples.

      Build a sample level project plan including high level scope statement, WBS and sample of kickoff and team meeting decks. I sure got moved to the top of the pile when I did this for a copy potential PM positions.

      I used this after I got the call from a head hunter, but the idea of attaching these items when applying makes a lot of sense and many of the web sites will now allow attaching extra doc’s of your choosing.

      Good hunting!

  1. While it may work for some people especially when there is some novelty and persistence, are we setting a dangerous precedent here ? IT companies already have a large labor pool and way too much choice for too little effort/expenditure/risk on their part. For a non-technical position I can understand the usefulness of this approach (which is not all that new to MBAs or law students anyway) but for programmers who already maybe spending significant time outside work on creative projects, this might just be a drag. I am all for ideas that help people reach their goals or put employees in touch with employers, just a bit wary about companies taking employees for a ride because they can. The ‘soft’ part of software has become a double edged sword, unfortunately. IT world seems to be subjected to much stronger pressures of natural selection. Even in comparison to other tech industries such as semiconductors etc.