This spring, I spent 31 days walking the El Camino de Santiago de Compostella, a magnificent journey across Spain. During this trek, I learned that it doesn’t matter how I got to my destination as long as I made it. While walking my Camino, I met dozens of inspiring people who taught me that it may take 25 days, 30 days or even 40 days to complete the walk, but the challenging journey would fade away once I entered the city of Santiago de Compostella.
As I considered my specific destination on the walk, I was simultaneously considering where I was heading in my life. I had just received my Master’s degree in Marketing and was ready to start an exciting career in branding. I didn’t have a clue as to which company I’d like to join, but I knew I needed to work somewhere that was a great culture fit for me.
While walking in Spain, I made a list of ideal qualities for my future employer. These included: inspirational, young, passionate, adventurous and daring. My goal was to work in marketing for sports or travel, my biggest passions in life.
I completed the walk and returned to the life in Amsterdam with a piece of paper folded up in my old pair of jeans, that contained a shortlist of companies I’d enjoy working for. When I pulled it out, I honed in on “Booking.com” scrawled in my handwriting. Through a bit more research on the company and the clear fit with my professional goals, I knew it was the place where I wanted to be.
As I spent three months traveling after I finished my Master’s, my bank account was hurting and my first application to Booking.com was rejected. I needed something stronger than the old-fashioned CV and motivation letter to give me a second chance. Without too much planning I started a #hire_tom campaign on Twitter and directed some tweets towards Booking.com. To my surprise, this simple effort caught up as the Global Head of Recruitment (@JenRecruiter) from Booking.com retweeted my message. From then on, things escalated quickly.
I looked her up on LinkedIn. We connected and I sent a couple of messages explaining my desire and motivation to work at Booking.com. I made more contacts from the recruitment team and employer branding team. Three get-to-know-you interviews and multiple phone calls and emails later, I was offered a full-time role in the Booking.com Marketing department.
Whether on the walk in Spain or in a job application process, it pays to be persistent and motivated. Because of those qualities, I was rewarded with a chance to prove myself. My advice to anyone still struggling to find his or her destination is that many companies are not hiring based on skills and experience alone. They are choosing personalities that will fit best with the culture at the organization. You don’t have to be the smartest kid in the class to get the best opportunities. You just have to find people who believe in you. I did and look where I am now.