In April, an online resume modeled after Airbnb’s website went viral, racking up nearly half a million hits.
The resume -- or what she describes as the "campaign" -- was crafted by Nina Mufleh, who had been trying to land an interview with Airbnb for some time. Figuring that she might grab somebody's attention if she showed the company what she could do for it, Mufleh researched Airbnb's rapid growth, its influence in the hospitality industry, and what she felt was still missing from its portfolio -- the Middle East.
The resulting project bears an undeniable resemblance to Airbnb’s own front page. “It’s the first visual people see,” Mufleh said. “That’s why the design is so in line with the brand’s identity.”
The real weight of her report, though, comes from the content. Mufleh outlined a business strategy, potential partnership opportunities, key international events in the area, and how she would fit into the company. “For someone who’s really busy, someone high-level, it’s data that appeals to them and could be considered for an expansion plan,” she said.
Mufleh tweeted her work to Airbnb’s three cofounders and shared it with other executives, including the head of product and the head of development. “I wanted to make sure this landed on the screens of top decision-makers,” she said.
Unlike the usual resume, Mufleh’s project highlighted her potential.
“She took it into the future, as opposed to traditional resumes, which look at the present and the past,” said Julie Cohen, a Philadelphia-based career and leadership coach.
Cohen likened the resume to a “mini-internship,” since it's clear that it wasn’t something she had pulled together on a whim.
“The purpose of this document is still an introduction. It’s to get an interview,” Cohen said. “This is her attempt to say, ‘I can do anything.’ Is she someone they want to create a position for? And this opened a lot of doors for her -- she got the PR, she got the buzz.”
After seeing little return from the hours spent reworking her traditional bullet-point resume, Mufleh was coming from what she called a “moment of desperation” in looking for work. But she knew she had a strong background to pull from. She had cofounded the Online Project, a social media agency based in Jordan, and was a frequent Airbnb host in San Francisco. She also thought she had some useful insights to offer.
“The Middle East is a region that tends to be painted with a lot of wartorn stories, but the culture is about hospitality, and that fits into Airbnb’s story of being anywhere and welcoming people into your home,” Mufleh said.
Though she designed her campaign around Airbnb, a company valued at around $24 billion, Mufleh hoped her work would draw a wider audience. And she was right: Soon after posting her project, she was flooded with responses from readers -- and interviewed with several major Silicon Valley companies, including Airbnb, Uber, LinkedIn and Dropbox.
In the end, Airbnb said there wasn’t a job for her. But Mufleh recently accepted a position as a freelance growth manager at Upwork, which connects companies with freelancers. She wrote about her experience in the hopes of guiding others in their job search.
“I started doubting myself -- that if this was tailored toward the company and spread the brand in a positive way, and they weren’t interested, would it mean that other companies wouldn’t see my potential value?” Mufleh said. “I went up and down the last couple of months, and I felt this responsibility to tell everybody who said this was an inspiration to keep going on.”