Gen Z grad reveals how she found her dream job on Instagram—and got hired by ‘shooting her shot’


Getting a job right now is hard. Businesses aren’t hiring amid economic uncertainty and AI advancements and for the few jobs available, employers are constantly adding more hoops for candidates to jump through. 

It’s why 25-year-old psychology grad Ashleigh Spiliopoulou took matters into her own hands when she stumbled upon her dream employer, PR firm Emerge, on Instagram. 

“I fell in love with the whole ethos, the whole vibe,” the Gen Zer explained in a viral TikTok video, before adding that she trawled their website only to find “they weren’t hiring.”

Instead of waiting for a job to come up, Spiliopoulou emailed Emerge’s founder directly with her CV reimagined to look like the company’s website and the subject line, “proposal to hustle”—and it worked. 

Now, one year later and working as Emerge’s senior account executive, she’s describing cold emailing employers as the “life hack to avoiding long interview processes.”

“Don’t wait for the opportunity to come because when you do that you’re against so many people—you get lost in the noise,” she concluded in the TikTok video that’s racked up over 1.3 million views.

“If you’re looking for a job and there’s a brand that you like reach out to them, put yourself out there and just be like ‘I’m going to shoot my shot, what the hell have I got to lose?’”

Businesses willing to “create seats at the table”

Many Gen Z graduates are currently finding themselves “unemployable”—but Spiliopoulou wasn’t one of them.

The London-based TikToker was a semi-professional Heptathlon athlete before venturing into the world of PR. She had a full-time job when she emailed Emerge.

“I’d become quite disillusioned with PR as an industry. I felt like it was talking the talk and not really walking the walk,” Spiliopoulou told Fortune, adding that she wanted to be “part of an organization that was pushing itself to the limits and was really delivering.”

“I woke up on a Saturday morning, which is how a lot of my decisions get made and I was like, I just want to change my life,” she said, adding that she didn’t get out of bed for two hours until she had hit send on the email that would change her career.

“It was a pretty on-the-moment decision. But I feel like when your gut tells you to make a decision, you should just do it.”

In the worst-case scenario, Spiliopoulou’s email would have fallen on deaf ears. 

“There’s nothing to lose—yeah, your ego might get a little bit burned, but that’s about it,” she added. But by Monday, Emerge’s founder and CEO Emily Austen had responded with the offer to meet for coffee.

“We are always looking for new talent, so despite not actively hiring for this role, we can create seats at the table,” Austen wrote back, in an email viewed by Fortune

Even once it came to meeting in person, Spiliopoulou kept the ball in her court and acted more like the employer than a hopeful candidate.

“I asked them a lot of questions,” she recalled, including what its hybrid work policy and work-life balance was like. 

“The world is big and there are loads of opportunities out there—even though it can sometimes not feel that there are—and I just didn’t want to jump into something which wasn’t going to be right, because there’s so many things I could do.”

In the end, she described the process as “the absolute easiest process and interview” (after all, there were no other candidates she was up against). So she recommends unemployed Gen Zers to “just be a human” and email their elevator pitch to dream companies.

This isn’t the first time she has cold-emailed an employer

It’s not the first time Spiliopoulou has emailed an employer out of the blue asking for work—it’s how she landed one of her first gigs while at university.

“It was for a social media company called Vinco, which basically did the results for athletics competitions and as an athlete myself, I always felt like the results were very slow to come up on Twitter and Instagram, they weren’t very detailed and didn’t have a lot of insight” she explained.

“So I just messaged the founders like, ‘I think I could do a better job, here’s my background’ and I got a job,” the Gen Zer added. “Being exposed to elite athletes, the people who shoot their shot and just go for it are the ones who get what they want—and now I just live that way.”

Plus, she’s not the only one who’s successfully “shot her shot”.

“This is how I found my job,” one user commented on her TikTok video. “My position didn’t even exist in the company and I’ve now started a whole department on my own.”

“As a founder, I have hired every single person who sent me an email like this, and they are my best employees,” an employer chimed.

However, even Spiliopoulou noted that creative industries and startups may be more receptive to random emails from aspirational workers than finance bosses, for example.

“My approach wouldn’t work for every company,” she told Fortune

“Those really big corporations are a little bit more structured, they are a little bit more red tapey—they can’t just do things like that, they’re not as agile and nimble.”

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