People often ask me how I ended up at Atlassian. I guess it’s no surprise with the company consistently being ranked toward the very top of the Best Place to Work studies – lots of people want the chance to work for one of the greats. I did, too. I had long been an Atlassian fan-girl and watched from afar as the company grew from small beginnings, through an IPO, and into the $26billion+ company it is today. When an opportunity to join the team presented itself, I jumped at it – but almost everyone I tell this story to is surprised at the way in which I finally found myself here.
You see, prior to joining Atlassian, I had decided it was time for a little career change and after 10 years as an Executive Assistant I moved into a Project Management role in management consulting. What a ride that was! To date, it is one of the most formative roles I have held in my career. The skills I had developed as a senior EA were immediately put to good use and I was running in excess of 10+ projects at any given time for some of the largest organisations in Australia. I loved it, but it was tough and the hours were long. Whilst I ultimately decided that Project Management wasn’t for me, I well and truly thought my EA days were behind me. After a year in that role, I decided it was time to move on and I began looking for a new opportunity.
I remember audibly gasping when I saw the job posting for an Executive Assistant at Atlassian on LinkedIn as I was sitting on the bus on my way home after a long day in the office. Whilst I hadn’t expected to revert to an EA role so soon (or perhaps ever) I knew that these roles were few and far between and I was so excited about the prospect of working at Atlassian that as soon as I got home I spent hours updating my CV and perfecting a cover letter to submit with my application. I’ve always been determined to stand out, and with hundreds of applications already submitted I knew I would have to do something different if I were to have a fighting chance. I found out who the role reported to, and I crafted a message to send to them in an attempt to convey my excitement at the opportunity and succinctly capture the reasons why I wanted to work at Atlassian. I was worried that I might have been overstepping, but I received a positive response to one of those messages (I had sent it to both Execs) and was over the moon.
Weeks had passed and I nonchalantly checked my email one afternoon. “Thank you for your interest in Atlassian” the subject line read. It was the dreaded ‘thank you, but no thank you’ email that so many of us have received before. I was really disappointed, but I had several other prospects in my pipeline that I was excited about and so, with a slightly bruised ego, I brushed it off and went on my merry way. ‘It wasn’t meant to be’ I thought.
Two weeks later, a member of the Talent Acquisition team reached out and asked if they could schedule an interview with me. Somewhat perplexed, but equally excited, I began working my way through the recruitment process. Not long after my third interview I received a call from the recruiter to let me know that I was being offered the position. I was ecstatic. I wasn’t sure how I had managed to clamber my way back into the ring, but I sure was glad that I had.
It turns out that with such a huge volume of applications for the role mine had been filtered out for the simple fact that my title at the time was ‘Project Manager’, and not Executive Assistant. A line had to be drawn somewhere and unfortunately I was on the wrong side of it. The message that I had sent to my future boss had turned out to be my saving grace – he had noticed I hadn’t made it to the interviews and was interested in speaking with me. The rest, as they say, is history.
Moral of the story; if you want something, find a way to stand out. Now I’m not suggesting you start sending cold messages to all manner of people on LinkedIn or elsewhere, but a well thought-out approach specifically tailored to the job opportunity you really want doesn’t go astray and may just land you in your dream role. Almost two years on, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to step outside of the box. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here!
(Fun fact: I landed my position in management consulting in much the same way)
Go get it, folks!