I recently came across CornOnTheJob.com, a blog by Philadelphia-based headhunter Rich DeMatteo. Helping job seekers with good advice is important to Rich, as it is to me, and I enjoyed visiting Rich’s blog. Rich just posted on a topic that was on my on-deck circle: job candidates “thinking outside the box” to gain attention. There are definitely many job seekers acting “outside the box”…but I’m not so sure these folks were “thinking.”
The Boston Globe did a very good piece on “outside the box” (more like “beyond the pale,” unfortunately) job seekers making spectacles of themselves, including, among others, Pasha Stocking of Connecticut who blew $2,500 for her “HIRE ME!” billboard that earned the “odd news” type of national media attention…but no job opportunities.
Since that Globe article, others have joined this group of job hunters gaining attention, but not the “good” kind of attention that will land them a job. Chances are you have heard of one Trina Thompson, who has sued the college she graduated from seven short months ago because she remains unemployed. Now we can all agree this is the worst public spectacle attention a job candidate can get. Rich gives Thompson a well deserved dressing-down along with some good common-sense advice that Trina Thompson should have done already (join LinkedIn, look into a resume writing professional, etc.). The Onion sums up Thompson’s hapless lawsuit with suitable irreverence. Litigious mediocrity is not a good personal brand to embrace, Trina…
But Rich DeMatteo and I have agreed to disagree on the virtue of an “outside the box” tactic by Sean Christman, a recent La Salle graduate.
Rich wrote: “On Wednesday, July 22, Sean found himself wearing his finest suit, standing on the median of a busy Philadelphia street (presumingly during rush hour), holding copies of his resume for passing cars.” Rich gave Sean a “brilliant” thumbs up for his gambit and vowed to connect with Sean Christman for an interview. I can certainly understand Rich going to bat for a fellow Philly kid trying to hustle up something – anything – even if it’s randomly passing out his resume to passing motorists.
I suggest Sean’s tactic actually falls more into the category of “inside the box” job searching than it does an “outside the box” negative attention-grab (but I think it was that too). Sean’s tactic is basically just a more public, visible version of a conventional wisdom, “inside the box” job search: Send your resume to every company and online job board possible. There are, unfortunately, scores of frustrating job seeker stories that begin with “Joe/JoAnne sent hundreds of resumes to employers and job boards, without one response…” As posted elsewhere here, wide distribution of resumes is not a job search strategy – it’s tanamount to buying lottery tickets; and the days of sending out 100 resumes to get seven of them turning into interviews and one job offer simply doesn’t work anymore.
If passing out resumes, be it via email to company websites and job boards en masse, or given to strangers driving by on a busy street, is an “inside the box” job search, and resorting to spectacle “outside the box” tactics will give you attention, but not the kind that will help get a job, what’s left? I suggest the answer lies in building a better box.
As an example, I would like to point to fellow Bentley University alum Jayna Dinsmore, whose job search after a major company layoff 10 months ago has taken her on a round trip that has happily culminated in a new job.
Jayna tried to “build a better box” through asserting herself as an expert in the effective use of social media for business. Jayna launched a blog on the subject, Little Miss Social Media, in tandem with active networking efforts, including co-founding the Bentley Success Network (which is how I met Jayna).
Jayna also offered her marketing services to the New England Job Show, a new experiment in which job seekers shoot an ePitch, or a 30 second video of their elevator pitch, at a Chelmsford, Mass. local cable TV access studio. The ePitches were then featured with the other segments in the show and distributed throughout several towns and cities in MA & NH, Comcast OnDemand and online on YouTube and their blog. Now Jayna, as Social Media Integrator, and the founders of New England Job Show did get substantial media coverage, including interviews by Associated Press, the Boston Globe and others, and even a live Fox & Friends interview. However, none of that media attention was of the variety that might translate into any job opportunity.
What didhelp Jayna finally hit paydirt was leading a free seminar to Bentley Alumni: a hands-on intro to using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A fellow Bentley alum and former colleague of Jayna’s saw that she was teaching an intro to social media class and got in touch with her to discuss launching his social media offering…resulting in a job offer. Best of all, Jayna tells me the job she accepted is her ideal job; “the one that I envisioned as being an ideal fit for me long before I knew this opportunity ever existed.” Well done, Jayna!
Bottom line, there is good, bad and ugly attention job seekers can draw to themselves. The “bad” or even “ugly” attention might get you your 15 minutes of fame (infamy?) on TV but that’s about it. “People say, ‘Hey, you’re famous [for your ‘HIRE ME!’ billboard],’ Pasha Stocking told the Globe. “Yeah, I’m famous. I’m famously unemployed.”
The “good” kind of attention is the kind that earns you recognition as an authority, an expert, a go-to person in your field. Networking, blogging, presenting, personal branding, “doing the job in your interview“…will earn you that “good” attention.
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