In May 2011, Dianez Smith was ready to take her career an epic level. She was tired of not getting interviews and working a low-wage retail job. Dianez literally took to the streets in search of leads. Armed with a homemade sign, dozens of résumés, and a sharp business suit, Smith stood at the corner of a busy Washington D.C. intersection. The recent college graduate desperately wanted land a job that would put her bachelor’s degree in studio art to use. She passed out 17 résumés in total to anyone who would give her a second glance. Smith’s résumé eventually landed her an interview and a job as a receptionist at a law firm.
Dianez Smith’s case of standing on a street corner may be extreme, but she was willing to look in an unexpected place to find job leads. With the economy still in a state of recovery, the job market is flooded with applicants. You have to stand out from the crowd just to get an interview. The idea of doing this may cause your creative side to balk. After all, you’ve polished your résumé until it sparkles and you’ve come to dread attending the same old networking events. In short, you’re tired of searching the same employers, in the same way everyone else does. In fact, you’re itching for the novelty of trying something new. Or maybe you have yet to search for a new career, but you want to start in a unique manner. If you’re willing to take a path less traveled, you may find surprising leads in your job search.
- Your “Other” Network
Other realms of your community can be a great source of unexpected job leads. The idea is to expand your network beyond the professionals you normally interact with. First try asking the people outside of your immediate circle of friends (assuming you’ve already told your friends how to identify leads for you.) Consider all of the folks with whom you are on a first-name basis. Your neighbors, your barber, your hairdresser, your trusted mechanic, and the parents you know from PTA meetings and kids’ sports and activities. Think personal relationships VS professional ones.
If you want to expand even further, look into community workshops, neighborhood events, and Meetup.com gatherings related to your interests. The point is to meet and network with different people to search for job leads. I’ll use Meetup.com as an example. You might be into web development and content management. So you find a local group dedicated to WordPress (yes, they exist), and decide to attend a local event. Such meetings could be the perfect place to ask for job leads. Or if you attend social gatherings completely unrelated to your profession (i.e., clubs, board game nights, or even religious services), take a moment to ask for leads there. You never know who may be the source of an important job lead.
- Online Marketing
In August I wrote an article titled “5 of the Craziest Ways People Found Jobs.” In this list I wrote about one man who got a job by advertising himself on Google’s AdWords. There’s no reason why you can’t market yourself in a similar manner. Set up a personal blog or website if you don’t already have one. Get yourself a personal domain name to brand as a URL. Naturally this would be YourOwnName.com. Next, create a page just for your résumé. Once you have such a page you’ll purchase an ad and use it to promote your résumé and highlight your achievements in a few words. For the AdWords URL you’ll want to use that personal domain name you bought.
If Facebook is more of your flavor, purchase a social ad. Use the title of the ad to target the business you want to work for. Make sure to include a professional picture, and a 25-word description about yourself and the job you want. Make sure to link these ads to your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page and your other social media outlets. Ask friends on these networks to share the ad. You want to target people in your profession in order to generate job leads.
- Become a Public Speaker
Volunteering to speak through community and professional organization can be a great source of job leads for those willing to try. It can be a breakout way to garner attention, establish expertise and value, and to expand your network. By public speaking, you’re marketing yourself to other professionals outside of your usual network who can then market you by word-of-mouth. Seek out clubs, civic groups, and professional organizations. These engagements can be used to gather job leads from attendees. If you’ve never spoken in public before, or the task seems a little daunting, you will definitely need to practice. Christopher Witt’s Entrepreneur article “How to Get Started in Public Speaking” is a good starting point.
Be bold and refuse to leave any stone unturned by looking for leads everywhere you can think of. Strike up a conversation with acquaintances and steer the discussion to job leads. If you don’t mind contracting work, try a few gigs on sites like Fiverr or Elance. In addition to making some extra cash, try asking clients about job leads. Consider putting out ads asking for leads in your local newspaper and on Craigslist. These sources are a little more risky, and you may end up with irrelevant leads, or no job leads at all. The point is, never stop looking and asking for leads.
These methods are not a substitute for a solid résumé, strong networking, references, and researching the company you want to work for. You can think of it as a quirky complement to the good practices you’re already using. As the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”