Unconventional Job Search Strategies: Smart or Silly?

27 04 2010

posted by Jenna Reisch

Check out this article by Susan Johnston, for Yahoo! HotJobs:

Given the competitive climate, some job seekers are trying unconventional methods like Twitter, blogging, and video resumes to get noticed and (hopefully) get job offers.  According to the Dallas Morning News, one unemployed woman even spent $1,200 to rent a billboard promoting herself. But are these strategies a smart way to get an employer’s attention or just a silly stunt?

Barry Deutsch, partner at IMPACT Hiring Solutions, and Miriam Salpeter, career action coach and owner of Keppie Careers, weighed in with their advice.

Why you should try it: If you’re a strong writer, then starting a blog can be a great way to showcase your writing skills and stand out from the crowd. “A blog is a tremendous opportunity to share what you do,” says Deutsch. “One of the things that recruiters do is Google searches on candidates. Now you can start to develop a real brand around yourself.” He adds that commenting on other people’s blogs can also help you get noticed.

Why you shouldn’t: Salpeter encourages clients who write well to consider blogging, but she stresses that “You have to have someone to edit it for you or be a strong writer. You don’t want to put out a blog that is not well written. And to do a blog, you have to blog relatively frequently.” If you don’t have the time or skills to create your own blog, she suggests Twitter.

Using Twitter

Why you should try it: Twitter’s microblogging platform is great for “building a network and creating a community of people who have an interest in you and who share information,” according to Salpeter. “Obviously, the best jobs to look for on Twitter are social media jobs,” she adds. “However, as Twitter becomes more and more mainstream, the usefulness for making connections expands and grows. It’s about connecting with people in an informal and media-savvy way.”

Why you shouldn’t: Because Twitter is so friendly and informal, it’s easy to let your guard down and post comments that could undermine your professionalism. “What I’m discovering is a lot of people are posting messages and describing their frustration or pain [in looking for a job], not reaching out to others or engaging in conversation,” says Deutsch. Though Deutsch sees lots of potential for networking on Twitter, he cautions that you shouldn’t use it as a “bulletin board for venting your frustration.”

Renting a Billboard

Why you should try it: The Texas woman who rented a billboard says she got two job offers in addition to over 50 calls and emails. “I think it’s very creative,” says Deutsch. Of course, he adds, “The problem with that approach is now you have to invest some money to advertise.”

Why you shouldn’t: Some might call this approach creative, but others might see it as desperate. And as Salpeter points out, “Hiring people don’t want desperate people. [Job seekers] would probably be better off finding a coach than spending money on an advertisement. Even people whose resumes are not bad could be better.”

Posting Online Ads

Why you should try it: Although it’s not a common strategy now, Deutsch predicts that hiring managers will see more candidates “taking out ads [and] targeting them to specific sites. Or taking out a radio spot out during drive time.” Keppie points to an experiment where several recent graduates posted ads on Facebook and targeted them geographically or to a specific company. “This is something that could possibly work for a young person,” she says.

Why you shouldn’t: Of the five grads involved in the experiment, many of them got job leads, but so far none of them landed a job from it. Salpeter does not recommend this strategy to most candidates, because she compares an online ad to “tapping a random person on the shoulder.” Instead, she recommends using social networking sites to connect in a more personal way, “as you would one-on-one.”

Video Resumes

Why you should try it: Salpeter says that job seekers might consider a video resume “if you’re in an industry that requires you to present on a regular basis and if you’re very good at that.” According to Deutsch, video resumes allow you to “engage on a personal level. It’s a great chance to see how [job seekers] communicate, articulate, structure what they want to have in that video resume.”

Why you shouldn’t: Both experts stressed that you still need a written resume, and that video resumes must be done well to be effective. “The fact is, most people don’t really look that good on video unless you have some kind of professional setup,” says Salpeter. “Why would you want to send a video resume that wasn’t professionally done?” She adds that not all employers have time to watch a video, so in many cases an online portfolio makes more sense.

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