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A man in a suit stands out on the city streets, wearing a sandwich board over his shoulders. "Almost Homeless,...
A man in a suit stands out on the city streets, wearing a sandwich board over his shoulders. "Almost Homeless," the sign reads, and then in smaller print below it his situation is spelled out clearly. With an ailing wife and his next mortgage payment due in a few weeks, he's trying his hardest to get a job and end nine months of unemployment. It's the hallmark image of Depression-era Americans, their desperation for work forcing them to look for any employment they can get by any means necessary. Except this isn't the 1930s, and this man, Paul Nawrocki, was most recently earning a near six-figure salary as an Import Operations Manager in the toy industry. Nawrocki is one of the millions of unemployed who are scrambling to find work in a tight job market. It's a market that now heavily favours the buyer—that is, employers—who find themselves with an abundance of qualified applicants. Even though, 30 years later, many of us are still waiting for all that wealth to trickle down, we are seeing how poverty is slowly trickling up. It's a reality that's leaving even the people who have jobs a little panicky, and job hunters world-wide have become more creative in order to successfully compete in this landscape.
In Ireland, Galway native Mac An Iomaire became frustrated after sending out nearly 200 resumes and landing only two interviews. It wasn't until he spent his life savings—a little more than $3,000 CAD—on a billboard advertising his services and credentials that he was finally able to turn things around. And two Dutch creative types took advantage of Twitter's website design—the one that shows the last five users who followed you—to place the message " H I R E U S" right on potential employers’ pages. And Matthew Epstein, from Georgia, USA, used his marketing skills and $4,000 to create a website and promotional video, featuring his character Mr. Moustache, targeted directly to Google, where he'd hoped to work.
These may seem like extreme cases, but they also work—and may very well become the norm. Epstein was the only of the examples above who didn't get his wish: Google rejected him, but the exposure landed him a job at investment startup SigFig. Like it or not, you've got to go the extra mile these days to catch a potential employer's attention. A resume and a cover letter alone probably don't cut it anymore. And, lying on your resume is never a good idea, but even more so now when so much our lives are on public display across social networks. Epstein's advice is to narrow your search to places you actually want to work, and then go for it. That doesn't mean the irreverent Mr. Moustache approach will always be the right one. You've got to know your audience, and act accordingly. Don't be afraid to get creative, though, and really make yourself stand out.