March 27, 2009
Jobless? Web site founder has your back -- and some lighthearted encouragement
LEXINGTON, Ky. — After endlessly trolling through career Web sites such as Monster.com and never connecting with a human, Charlene Helm snapped.
"Every day was a constant battle," said Helm, a May 2008 graduate of Appalachian State University. "I was so frustrated I just typed in 'I need a job.' "
And there at the top of the list was www.damnineedajob.com, a Web site designed by Larry Dinsmore, which offers T-shirts with the Web site name on the front and your résumé printed on the back.
The site didn't land Helm, 23, a job but it helped all the same.
"It just kind of put some humor in the situation," said Helm, a marketing major who has found a part-time job at a South Carolina nonprofit since she discovered the site last year.
The site was born out of frustration, said Dinsmore. In 2005, the Lexington, Ky., man went 18 months without a job. He created the site thinking he might make a little money selling T-shirts and show off his technical skills since he was looking for a job in the computer field.
As luck would have it, a local television station profiled him. Someone home sick from work saw the piece and, yes, Dinsmore was called to come in. He got a job at the Kentucky League of Cities.
The site languished for a few years. But when the economy started to go south, he found himself touched by the people who found it. He said his traffic is up 30 to 40 percent from its previous peak last summer.
Many people come to the site in the same way Helm did. They type "I need a job" into a search field.
"To me," said Dinsmore, "that's kind of an act of desperation."
Though he started the site as a lark, it has become somewhat of a mission because of the e-mails he gets from people laying out their plight or asking for advice.
"I do see the impact that the economy is having on real people," Dinsmore said. He lets people know he's not a career counselor but tries to be sympathetic and constructive in his e-mails.
The message of the site is fairly straightforward: Don't give up. Do whatever you can to get noticed.
Dinsmore even recommends buying or producing a résumé shirt and calling up the local news to follow you in your quest for employment. (Hey, it worked for him.)
He's seen television reports of people who've done just that.
That out-of-the-box strategy might work for some, said Michael Cronk, assistant director of the career-development center at Transylvania University.
But, he said, the most important thing for job candidates to do is network. "That is the best way to get noticed by employers."
Dinsmore said he'll keep up the site and respond to the e-mails he receives.
"I don't have a magic wand or anything," he said. But there are some links to job sites, a forum to share a story and game arcade for a little distraction.
And, as its Note from Larry says, "If this site just made you laugh, then so be it."
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