4 Unconventional Ways to Find a Job In A Tough Market

In: ideas| marketing

16 Sep 2009

Yesterday Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the current recession was “very likely over.” Banks are back to handing out big bonuses. Blue skies are here again, right?

So why are so many people still out of work? Right now there are more than 5 unemployed workers for every job opening. CareerDiva Eve Tahmincioglu recently wrote about how, in her words, “sometimes you just can’t find a gig.” There is a lot of frustration out there and much has been written about searching for a job. The web has no shortage of career advice, covering everything from networking to crafting the perfect resume. But in this type of market, sometimes you just can’t find a job.

Are you using the same tactics as everyone else?
One of the problems could be how you are going about your job search. Regardless of how well you are doing them, chances are you’re doing the same things everyone else is. Having the best possible resume is important, so is having a great cover letter. But you are still competing with other candidates who are using the traditional cover letter and resume process to get a job.

Don’t get me wrong, all the standard pieces of advice still apply, so make sure you do them well. But they have become the new bare minimum.

In the interest of helping you stand out from the crowd, below are 4 Unconventional Ways to Get a Job.

1. Create a “Should Hire Me” Website
shouldhiremeBuilding a mini-website allows you to showcase your abilities and talent in a unique way that grabs the attention of employers. This isn’t an entirely new idea, as it has been done by other job-seekers. Jamie Varon famously tried to get a job at Twitter with her website, TwitterShouldHireMe.com. The site was featured in Fortune magazine, CNN, and other media outlets. While it didn’t lead to working with Twitter, the site opened other doors for Jamie and she now runs her own consulting business. I have a similar story, having used ShouldHireMe.com websites during a job search last spring (see an example here). I was featured in the Baltimore Sun and a few blogs, all of which convinced me to start my own consulting business as well.

These types of sites are extremely cheap and easy to setup. Go to 1and1.com, buy a domain name and/or cheap hosting, and setup a basic page. If you have absolutely no HTML skills, and aren’t eager to learn, you can probably find some help at elance.com for somewhere around $50. Get clever with your domain (ie LetMeGrowYourSales.com or WhyYouNeedtoHireMe.com). Even a generic page you can share with multiple employers can have a huge impact.

2. Advertise on Facebook
etsyadLike many sites, Facebook offers Cost-Per-Click ads on their site. The big difference is that you can target people who work for a specific company. If you see a job from a specific employer, you can run an ad for their employees stating why you would make a great new hire. This works especially well in conjunction with Step 1, when you have your own site. Setup LetMeGrowYourSales.com, then run an ad with a headline such as “Let Me Grow Acme’s Sales” and some copy encouraging them to “find out how I can help your company grow.”

I did this during my job search and it received a lot of attention. The great part is that you can often reach your future boss or someone you will work with, as opposed to just an HR representative who is sorting through huge stacks of resumes. And since you are targeting such a specific group of people, each campaign will only cost a few dollars.

3. Work for Free
This tip is aimed primarily towards two groups of people: new graduates and those looking to switch careers. I’m not suggesting you offer to perform Accounts Receivable duties without getting paid, but if you have spare time and are looking to break into a new field or are just starting out, working on a project for free can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Recent graduate Charlie Hoehn used this method to start his career, and wrote a free ebook about this experience called Recession-Proof Graduate.

While the book is aimed at younger grads, there is valuable advice in there for anyone looking for work. Even if it doesn’t lead to work, at least you something to add to your resume to fill the gap in employment. I would much rather hire a candidate who is making productive use of their time off as opposed to someone who doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything.

4. Be More Interesting
That might sound a bit broad, but the idea is to take this time to make yourself a more interesting candidate (and person). Regardless of how many years of work experience you might have, it’s helpful to have some powerful talking points about why you are remarkable. Writing an ebook is a great way to demonstrate expertise and draw attention to yourself. Who knows, it could also lead to other professional opportunities. Or offer to speak somewhere or hold a free training seminar. Contact the Small Business Administration and act as an adviser in your area of expertise for entrepreneurs just starting out. Consider starting a small business scholarship program, where you will volunteer your services to a worthy company. Any of these will make you more interesting than 99% of the applicants an employer will hear from.

Much like Traditional Marketing, the Old Methods are Dying

The traditional methods of job-hunting worked well when there were an abundance of positions available. But now that they are scarce and competition for each is fierce, having a respectable cover letter and resume is no longer enough. Just as the rules of marketing have changed dramatically, so have the rules for competing for jobs. So start thinking about how you can differentiate yourself from other applicants.

It’s definitely tough out there. But by changing your job search strategy, you will dramatically increase your chances of getting back to work as soon as possible. Good Luck.

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Mark Webster

About Mark Webster

One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.