Extreme job hunt: Applicants ditch resumes for guerilla tactics
When traditional job-hunting methods fail, some are turning to the unconventional.
As unemployment climbs, jobless Americans are doing more than asking for a job. Some are affixing résumés to their cars. Others are posting job appeals on YouTube. A few are even offering rewards for job referrals. To quote a lyric from the musical “Gypsy,” some people have decided that “you gotta have a gimmick” these days to land a job.Skip to next paragraph
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Take Pasha Stocking of East Hampton, Conn. She paid more than $1,000 to rent a billboard in April on Interstate 95 in Bridgeport. It sported her larger-than-life picture and the words “Hire Me!” The single mother of three, who lost her job as a marketing and sales director last June, says she’s received at least 300 e-mails and a few job prospects as a result of the billboard, after months of getting nowhere. “I definitely think I’ll get a job offer out of it,” she says in a phone interview.
Then there’s Jann FritzHuspen. After 18 months of looking for work, in September she express-mailed a coffee mug along with her application to three prospective employers, asking each if they’d meet her for coffee. Two ignored her. The third agreed and, a month later, offered her a job as executive director for a nonprofit organization in Roseville, Minn.
Standing out in a crowd is key to finding work, says Allison Nawoj, a career adviser at CareerBuilder.com. But now that 3.3 people are competing for every job in the United States (in December 2007 the ratio was 1.9 applicants per job opening), being noticed is tougher.
In an October survey by CareerBuilder, 1 in 10 hiring managers reported seeing “unconventional” applications, ranging from an applicant offering foot massages to a cover letter written in verse.
“It’s something on the rise, especially in the past few months” as unemployment has risen, says Ms. Nawoj.
The wait for a job has become longer. The average period of unemployment hit 23.4 weeks in April, compared with 17.9 weeks in 2008, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Opinion is divided, though, on the value of extreme job hunting. Gimmicks attract attention, but they need to be done with care and don’t always yield quick results.
Ask Joshua Persky, former investment banker. For a week last June, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate walked New York’s Park Avenue wearing a sandwich board that read, “Experienced MIT grad for hire.” He got news coverage and about six serious job leads, but no work. He was forced to move in with family later in the summer.