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If you've been looking for a new job, you've probably noticed that you are not alone. In fact, there are so many highly qualified people looking for jobs today that it can be really difficult not to feel like just another face in the crowd (or résumé in the pile!).
Competition is certainly stiff. And that means that the job search techniques of yesterday – send out résumés, search the want ads, and wait for a job to fall in your lap – won't even get your foot in the door. What you need in order to get a job today, says Jim Kukral, is the courage to put yourself out there and get the attention of employers by trying something no one else is doing.
"It has never been more important to stand out and get noticed in the job market," says Jim Kukral, author of Attention! This Book Will Make You Money: How to Use Attention-Getting Online Marketing to Increase Your Revenue (Wiley, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-470-59927-3, $24.95, www.attentionthebook.com). "No employer today is going to remember anybody who is just okay, or who falls in the middle of the pack. If you're competing against fifty other applicants for a much-needed job, you have to ask yourself, What can I do to stand out and prove to them that I want it more than everyone else?"
If you're trying to land a new job, but you're short on ideas for getting the attention of potential employers, don't worry. Below Kukral shares five creative ways to use the power of the web and social media to land that new job:
Potential employers have piles of résumés to look through – for the most part, they all look the same. Do something to make yours stand out in the crowd. For example, if you find out that the hiring manager at the company you're interested in loves Dunkin' Donuts, you should have a box of donuts delivered to her office every morning for a full week. Each box should have a picture of you on it and a reason why you're perfect for the job. Kukral shares his own success story of how a "different" résumé landed him a job right out of college:
"When I walked into the CEO's office for the interview, I noticed the walls were completely covered in post-it notes," he recounts. "The CEO told me he liked to keep his ideas and notes in this manner because it helped him to stay organized, and it kept the ideas in front of his face. Later that night an idea occurred to me: Why not use this guy's penchant for post-it notes to stand out to him? I bought a big piece of white posterboard and several packs of yellow post-it notes. Then I came up with fifty different qualities that I thought I represented and had my fiancée (who has fabulous handwriting) write down each quality on a post-it note. I arranged the notes on the posterboard one by one, emulating the CEO's office wall.
"The next morning I arrived to his office early and left the board with his receptionist along with another copy of my résumé," he continues. "About an hour later, I received a call from the CEO offering me the job. Out of all the people interviewing for the position, I was the only one who did something to stand out. This was an early and valuable lesson for me and has since helped shape my career and brand into what they are today."
Facebook is a great way to network with friends and family, but what most people don't know is that it's a great way to network professionally as well. Many companies have Facebook pages that allow you to make contact with their employees. And what's even better, Facebook offers an advertising service (that few people actually even know about!) for very cheap. The service allows you to create your own target ad. It doesn't get much easier than that!
Kukral recommends creating an ad on Facebook about yourself – include your skills and qualifications and what type of job you are looking for – and then target it to the companies where you want to work. Sound simple? That's because it is!
"A great example of how this works is a woman named Miriam Schembari who was trying to get a job at one of the world's largest publishing houses," Kukral explains. "She had exhausted her efforts otherwise: She had sent résumés, called recruiters, posted on job boards, and after six months she had nothing to show for it. She knew she had to do something different to get herself noticed – so she turned to Facebook. She created a Facebook advertisement that targeted only people who worked at the companies that she wanted to work for.
"She ran the ad on the profiles of people who worked at HarperCollins and linked to her résumé. The entire ad run cost her only $6.00. A person who blogs for HarperCollins saw the ad and wrote a blog post with the headline 'Why don't we hire more people like this?' and the blog post linked back to her ad and her résumé. A week later she had a contract gig with them."
Before you go on a job interview, find out everything you can about the people who are in charge of the hiring process at the company. Look them up on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and get to know a little bit about them and their interests. This will help you to know what may impress them, annoy them, or where you may share a common interest that will help you to connect. In the interview, make an attempt to connect – be friendly, honest, and open to sharing a little about yourself as well. The more personal the connection you make and the more they like you as a person, the better chance you have at being chosen for the job.
"Learning a little bit more about the decision makers in the hiring process will do nothing but help you," asserts Kukral. "Learn as much as you can and then use some of those nuggets of information in the interview. Perhaps you discover that one of the interviewers is a huge Yankees fan, or another has children the same age as your own, or one of them attended a local festival over the weekend. It's those details that will help you to break the ice and connect with them personally – and that will in turn make you more memorable."
YouTube is a great resource – and not just for funny videos to forward to your friends. In fact, it's a cheap and easy way for you to show off your skills, and it can pack a big punch when it comes to setting yourself apart in the job search. You can use a video as a chance to follow up after an interview and say thanks. Or you could take the opportunity to send your potential employer something you've put together that displays your creativity or a skill that sets you apart. Send a link to your video via email to the people who conducted your interview as a way to follow up.
"One great example is a man who used his kids' baby toys and made some funny videos about the public relations business and put them on YouTube," explains Kukral. "The videos started to get mentions in the media, and he leveraged that in his job search. He sent the videos, along with the media he had received, to potential employers with a note reading, 'If I can get this much publicity from kids' toys and no budget, imagine what I could do for your clients.' With very little investment, he was able to make a great impression and increase his chances for future employment."
Doing things differently isn't exactly breaking news. Most people are at least somewhat aware of the fact that the job market is flooded with a surplus of talented and qualified people who are all vying for the same job openings. So you have to make sure you're thinking one step ahead of the rest. Advertise yourself in unexpected places, step out of your comfort zone, and, if you have to, invest a little money. You have to put some effort in if you want to see some results!
"A great example of this is a woman named Pasha (HirePasha.com) who took her last bit of money and bought a billboard in a high-traffic area that read, 'I'm ready and available for work, HirePasha.com.' It worked so well that she ended up creating her own public relations firm because of all the attention she got for herself! The lesson here is to not limit yourself just because you think something is too outrageous or unexpected. In this case, it worked!"
"The job market, especially when it is as overcrowded as it is today, can be tough to navigate," says Kukral. "But if you implement a few unique strategies, it can also be a lot of fun. Once you find the strategy that works for you, it will also become very fruitful. Good luck out there!"
About Jim Kukral:
Jim Kukral is the author of Attention! This Book Will Make You Money: How to Use Attention-Getting Online Marketing to Increase Your Revenue (Wiley, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-470-59927-3, $24.95, www.attentionthebook.com). For over fifteen years, Jim has helped small businesses and large companies like FedEx, Sherwin-Williams, Ernst & Young, and Progressive Auto Insurance understand how to find success on the Web. Jim is also a professional speaker, blogger, and Web business consultant. Jim teaches thousands of students around the globe as an adjunct professor for The University of San Francisco's Internet Marketing Program. He has been quoted or featured in some way in online and offline print publications such as Forbes, Brandweek, Entrepreneur, theWall Street Journal, the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Inc., Small Business Trends, FeedFront, Revenue Today, Marketing Sherpa, and Duct Tape Marketing Network.