July 3, 2012
Job-search creativity: fabulous or fatal?
In my previous post, I showcased three examples of unemployed folks who came up with unorthodox ways to promote their qualifications beyond the standard "respond to ads, talk to recruiters, network with your friends" regimen most job seekers today tend to follow.
The question remains, of course, as to whether being wildly creative is a smart strategy to follow when looking for work (or not) -- especially for those not seeking employment in a creativity-driven field such as marketing, advertising or graphic design.
Will attempting an outside-the-box job-hunting technique earn you extra brownie points or signal desperation? Could the attempt to be unconventional instead be perceived as unprofessional? And can you truly come up with an original way to promote your credentials, or will you just be branded a copycat?
This answer depends a lot, I believe, on a careful analysis of both the target field you're pursuing as well as your own personality. For example, while it may be an unfair generalization, I wouldn't normally suggest that folks applying for a position at a law firm engage in shockingly creative tactics. Along these same lines, if you don't feel that a highly unorthodox approach would be in keeping with your personality, it's probably best to stick to more traditional methods, as well.
And yet, as the famous blogger and marketing wizard Seth Godin once put it, "safe is risky." So for those who are tired of trying the conventional approaches, there definitely could be room in one's job search campaign for some creative experimentation.
Along these lines, here's a quick list of some of the innovative job hunting approaches I've come across over the years, just to fuel your thinking a bit:
• Start a blog or podcast series related to your field that will give you an excuse you to reach out, interview and build relationships with top hiring managers in your field
• Try to catch the eye of employers with a highly unusual resume format or by punching up the copywriting of your cover letters with bolder, edgier language
• Instead of conducting your networking one person at a time, employ a one-to-many approach by e-mailing ALL your contacts a note about your work availability, right at the start of your search, including a clear explanation of what you're seeking and where you'd love some help
• Start a LinkedIn Group or facilitate a regular get-together for professionals in your industry, not only to give you more networking exposure but also to allow you to "plug the gap" on your resume, if you're currently unemployed
• Commit to researching and writing a white paper on an interesting trend, issue or development in your field; submit your report to media outlets for publication or seek to land some speaking engagements around it
• Study the "People on the Move" sections in various newspapers and note any professionals in your field who have recently landed new jobs; was an opening created at the organization they just left?
• Arrive at an interview with a formal presentation, case study or impressive work sample in hand; sometimes "showing" rather than "telling" the hiring manager how good you are will create a much more memorable impression
Again, these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. While in general I still believe people should get the "compulsories" of job hunting right before they decide to experiment with highly unorthodox techniques, there's definitely room for a little more creativity in the mix than what we're currently seeing out there!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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