Back when men were men, women were women, and Martians had silver jumpsuits and antennae, you could either be educated, experienced, or lucky. Nowadays, you must be all three. You are your own publicist. You tread a fine line between trying really hard to differentiate yourself and foaming at the mouth in desperation.
Some job seekers, like Matt Lindner, are so thorough that it made me retroactively shameful for my hamfisted search. He’s actively leveraging (as opposed to passively being present on) LinkedIn, Twitter, old business contacts, and celebrity as a sausage racer.
His advice: “Get on social media and keep having conversations with strangers (contrary to what your parents told you growing up) because you never know when one of those strangers might be able to open a door for you.” But what about those of us who aren’t as extroverted, and don’t have the Klout score?
CareerBuilder has a list of weird stunts from 2009, which include candidates offering to wash cars and sending resumes inside shoes “to get their foot in the door.” But frankly, that sounds kind of demeaning. I wouldn’t want to hire someone who’s washing cars unless I own a car wash. You gotta have self-respect, playa.
Plus, it’s not that hard–you need just one killer idea. It has to be completely unique, insanely clever, and relevant to your field of expertise.
Being an ad guy, I’ll talk about some great examples from the world of advertising..
Relevance is all-important. In a talk, Chuck Porter mentioned a hopeful skywriting a resume above his house. Cute, but anybody can pay for a plane and pilot. He didn’t get hired.
On the other hand, we have Roger Baldacci, who was applying for a job at Mullen in 1991. They didn’t have an opening. Three months later, when they did, the creative director, Edward Boches, called him.
This was his answering machine message:
“Hi, Roger and Lynn aren’t here to take your call. Kindly leave a message. ||PAUSE|| And if by any chance this is someone from Mullen, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE I’LL DO ANYTHING FOR A JOB. ANYTHING.”
Dude cold waited three months for someone to call. Baldacci got the job and is now a bigwig over at Arnold, where he creates award-winning work. (This story is taken from Boches’s blog post, “10 job-hunting tips for this year’s graduating class.”)
My own meager effort took the form of a rap song, also addressed to Edward Boches. (That’s a guy who gets a lot of job applications. Probably because he has great hair.) I got an interview, but by the time I finished school, they had already filled the position.
The most famous self-promotion campaign of recent times is Alec Brownstein’s Google AdWords stunt. He bought AdWords to the names of creative directors he admired. And whenever they googled themselves, they saw this on top of the results:
Hey, (Creative Director): Goooogling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too.
He got a job. Not only that, the son of a bitch also won a One Show award, and a Clio.
A personal favorite of mine is Mark Trueblood’s choose-your-own-Twitter adventure. This took careful planning, since you can’t edit tweets. Trueblood moved in mysterious ways this wonder to perform. But it served his purpose—he got excellent publicity and more free-lance work than he could handle.
Mark Trueblood’s Twitter stunt was useful in other ways too. I started following him on Twitter because I admired his work. We became friends, and a few months ago, he sent me a heads up. Glass Agency in Sacramento, California, was looking for a copywriter.
Guess where I work now?
Got another crazy job stunt? Share it with us below.