How I got a phone call interview with Airbnb without applying

I checked the careers page. There was an IT Support role. I kept looking at the pictures. The workplace looked fun. Young people, nice colours, plants, natural light, exposed wood on the cabinets.

That’s a place I could work.

I kept reading the requirements.

  • Proficiency with Apple devices.

  • Able to work in a team.

  • 3-years experience in an IT support role or equivalent.

That’s me. There were more but I can’t remember them. I only remember the ones I was eligible for. Confirmation bias.

I was working at Apple as a Genius. Plenty of time with Apple devices, iOS and macOS. Plenty of time with a team. Plenty of offering support to customers.

Another requirement was Microsoft Office. I hadn’t used it in 3-years. I ignored it. ‘I can learn it again,’ I thought. Sometimes the difference in someone who knows about something and someone who doesn’t is reading one article about it. You’d be surprised how many people came into Apple asking questions which could be answered with a 150-word publicly available first result on Google search support article. To troubleshoot I’d Google the issue with the customer and show them the article. Teaching to fish.

The job was in Ireland. I was in Australia. I showed my girlfriend the role. She spoke.

It’s in Ireland.

Yeah.

That would mean you’d have to move to Ireland.

Yeah.

I looked back at the screen. The role looked fun but I loved her more than the pretty colours on the careers page. I wanted to apply anyway. See how I’d go.

You had to send in your resume and a cover letter to apply. Plus fill out some other contact details. I didn’t. I went to LinkedIn. And typed in Airbnb hiring managers to the search bar.

A few came up. Some from the US and some from Ireland. I messaged the ones in Ireland.

Hey (name),

I’ve been looking at the IT support role on the careers page and am thinking about applying. Before I submit my details, I’d love to get your advice on whether I’m on the right track.

Do you mind giving a 1-minute look over my resume and cover letter before I send them off?

Best,

Daniel

LinkedIn messages had a character cut off so it had to be succinct. I wasn’t asking for them to accept my application via LinkedIn either, only advice. Everyone loves to give advice.

One girl replied. The two others didn’t.

Hey Daniel,

Thank you for this. I’ve forward it on to my colleague, (name), who’s responsible for the role. She should message you shortly.

I thanked her.

Then I got a message from one of the other two people I reached out to.

Hey Daniel,

My colleague, (name), forwarded me your message, I’d love to help. Can you send through your details?

I sent her my resume and cover letter.

They were in top shape. I put effort into each. Going back through the role requirements and tailoring my resume to suit. I gave examples in the cover letter of situations I’d dealt with which were on the listing.

She messaged back.

Your resume and cover letter look great. Are you available for a call sometime this week?

I replied saying I was available.

She gave me the details, there was a time difference so the call was going to come through at 7 pm my time.

I read back over the role description. Wrote down some notes of different stories I could tell. Prepared for the tell me about yourself.

The call came through. We spoke for 30-minutes. Most of it was situational experiences.

Tell me about a time where you had to work with multiple different support cases at once.

When a technical issue arises, how do you deal with it?

Then some logistical ones.

This role is based in Ireland, are you able to relocate.

Yeah.

I hadn’t thought the relocation through. But I wanted to apply anyway. See how I’d go. Whether I’d be able to get a job at Airbnb when I didn’t really meet all of the requirements.

The phone call ended. She said she’d get back to me in a couple of days.

An email arrived from her. It said we’ve decided to move forward with other candidates.

I was disappointed. Then relieved. Moving to Ireland would’ve been cold. But the phone call taught me something.

The conventional way would’ve been to send my papers through the careers page. Would that have led to a phone call the next day? Maybe. Probably not.

I went straight to the source instead. I asked myself.

Who is the right person to talk to?

Then I found them.

It won’t always work out how it did above. Sometimes messages don’t get read. The two tricks to getting them read is to keep it short and ask for advice rather than a guaranteed request. And don’t take it to heart if they don’t get back. Everyone has things going on.

My brothers have been using career sites for jobs lately. They’ve applied everywhere without much response. Career sites are great but they’re crowded. Better to go where it’s least crowded.

Send a message to someone. Or walk into the building and ask who’s best to talk to. They’ll say you can apply on the website. But then you’ll say, thank you, I’ll do that, before I do, is there anyone I can talk to get some advice about the company and the role?

Maybe: Sure, let me find them for you.

Also maybe: Not at the moment, best to apply on the website.