April 1, 2010

Getting creative with your job search strategies

One of the most common pieces of advice that I give to students looking for a job is that it does pay to be creative in your job search strategy. Whether its searching for jobs on Craigslist or finding a unique way to advertise your services, a little creativity can go a long way in today's ever more competitive job market.

Recently, I put into practice what I preach and I had some surprising results.

Just like every other graduate, I myself have been actively searching for a job once I'm done school. It's definitely not been easy, given the state of our economy, and I find myself wondering why I'm not getting any call backs.

Recently, I changed things up, inspired in part by the success of Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski, a British graduate who stood outside newspaper offices and handed out home-made business cards.

So here's my story ...

I came across one of England's best communications/PR companies, Octopus Communications, after researching the organization behind some of the recent campaigns I saw while living in London.

After going through their website, I checked out their job board but didn't see any advertised entry-level positions. They did though have an email address for the office manager so I wrote her a quick email. A few weeks later, I got a response asking me to forward a copy of my resume and cover letter.

Now, I had previously spent hours re-doing and re-organizing my resume for a job within the marketing/PR/communications industries, so thankfully, I just had to make a few tweaks. But because I had spent so much time on their site, I got the sense that the agency is very creative and they like to think outside the box.

So that got me thinking ... what can I do to show them that I share the same work values and can think outside the box?

Then it came to me - I could write them a poem.

Sure, it was cheesy, and you might even say desperate, but within about 30 minutes, I crafted a poem that touched on their five core values and how I represented and embodied them. I sent it off and a week later, I received a response saying that my poem was well-liked and had been circulated around the office.

And a few days ago, I found out that my poem was going to be featured on their blog in a posting on how you can stand out from the crowd. If you want a good laugh, click through to their blog, read my poem, and feel free to leave a comment.

Of course, just because I had one success, I figured I could use the same strategy again. This time, I applied for a position with another digital marketing firm and they asked applicants to send in a 50 word answer on "why I'm an ideal candidate".

So again, I went on their website and scoured it for information I could use. I thought about going the more traditional route and stating, "I am an ideal employee because ..." but let's face it, that sounds boring.

Instead, sensing the success I was having as a budding "poet", I also wrote my answer in a poem form, only this time, as an acrostic poem with each letter of my name running down the left-side in a bold font.

Again, I had success and was invited to come in and interview with them.

So the moral of both stories ...

If you find yourself stuck in a job search rut, consider changing up your strategy. Think outside the box and get creative - and no, I don't mean using fancy fonts or scented paper.

You don't have to go crazy and it doesn't have to cost anything. But showcasing a unique way to get people's attention is definitely a good strategy in today's tough job market.

And in all honesty, something unique, innovative, and creative can be the difference between your resume moving to the top of the list and sitting in a pile with applications from everyone else.

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