It's a jungle out there. When conventional job search approaches leave you feeling defeated, consider unconventional methods to find a job. We've received many job hunting tips over the years. Some are a little bit crazy, while others are pretty clever. Yet, all have, at one time or another, got the job done.
Don't let hiring managers get you down
Don't fall into the "send resume and salary expectations" trap and forgo engaging on your own terms. Consider sending a $1 gift card and suggest meeting for coffee. At a minimum, the gift will be memorable. If the meeting happens, consider bringing your resume taped to a pound of fresh-ground coffee. Remember, one way or another, getting an interview can be a grind.
More likely, your token gift will merely result in increasing your chances of getting a call-back. Personal notes always help keep you top of mind, especially when hand-written.
When you're getting ignored, get proactive
Never mistake a busy recruiter's lack of response for rudeness and don't take it personally. But don't let it go unnoticed, either. Email a polite note explaining you understand they are busy, and give them a timeframe to get back to you based on a well-crafted end-date. For example, "Let me know by this Friday, as I'll be traveling internationally for the next week."
If they continue to ghost you, they probably aren't interested.
However, sometimes a lack of response could be due to a vacation, family emergency, or even budget approval for your role.
Also, if a recruiter gives an offer to another candidate and is awaiting a response, when that candidate declines, your number may be their next phone call. So be sure to allow ample response time.
If ample time has passed and you just aren't getting any response or feedback, consider withdrawing your application, and asking the hiring manager to keep you in mind if they wish to pursue your candidacy further. You'll feel great staying in control, and this may even spark a response if they truly were interested, but were dragging their feet.
Pro tip: If any point during the interview process, the recruiter texted you, then sending a brief text back is fair game: "Hey, it's Steve. I just wanted to follow up on the copywriter role, as I remain highly interested. Let me know!"
Get dropped behind enemy lines
Does the employer have an Employee Referral Program? Call the main switchboard and ask for sales or customer service. Say, "I'm considering applying for a job" and ask, "Do you have an employee referral program?" Either way, then ask: "Would you consider referring me?"
I just spoke to one of our Business Development Reps about such a cold call candidate. He said: "I would absolutely talk to them. Obviously, I'd want to talk to them to make sure they were a legit candidate first, and would then check their LinkedIn profile. But of course I would consider referring them. The referral bonus would be sweet."
Whatever the answer – "Yes" or "No" – no harm, no foul. You might even get some insider tips to help you on the way. At some companies, the referral bonus is several thousand dollars, so this may be worth their while to get to know you!
Shoot for the top
Target the organization that you would most like to work for and call the CEO's assistant. Explain that your career up to this point has been leading up to a job with their organization. Ask for an audience with the CEO. You'll probably get referred to HR, but a referral coming from the CEO's office sure beats coming from an online job board. If you do get to talk with the CEO be ready to impress.
While this may be a little far-fetched at a Fortune 500 company, at small companies or mid-sized companies, this isn't far-fetched at all. In fact, consider doing an audit on a part of their business where you are an expert. Then ask to have some time to present that audit with the senior leader running that part of the business. They will likely ask you to email it, but now you have one-on-one attention with the key decision-maker.
A highlight is worth 1,000 words
Forget the resume and just send a cover letter that has highlights of the resume quoted. Choose excerpts that are particularly relevant to the job you're applying for and in the letter say something like: "Knowing how busy you are, I imagine it is impossible to do justice to every resume you receive. If you'd like to look at mine, drop me a line and I'll have it delivered to you."
This may not work for companies using tools that auto-scan resumes looking for keywords to determine a candidate match-rate. However, if you send a real hand-written letter to a real person, it will get read almost 100% of the time, as receiving actual mail at work is very rate. In contrast, a hiring manager could receive hundreds of resumes through Indeed or ZipRecruiter.
Admit it, your resume stinks
You want your resume to be short, concise and eye-popping. Add the logos of employers or big-name clients in the left margin of a single piece of paper. Edit the resume down to less than 250 words. At the bottom put "Detailed work and achievements available for serious recruiters only." If you can't get the doc to look slick find someone who can.
Obviously, if you have many years of experience, skills, and certifications, you will want to include those. However, entry level candidates who may have trouble filling a page should find ways to make the resume visually appealing and memorable. The attention to detail will convey that you are actually detail oriented, and not just somebody who says they are.
You dress to impress at an interview, so allow your resume to dress to impress the hiring manager.
Pro tip: Make sure your resume is formatted to print properly, and save as a PDF, as TXT or DOC files display differently on different computers. You spend a lot of time on formatting. Make sure it translates.
Pro tip 2: Include your name and date in your resume file name Recruiters will find, and remember, john-doe-resume-2019.pdf much more easily than resume-final-wffeg.pdf – especially if they are sifting through 100 resumes on their hard drive.
Enlist your references
Get your references to provide you with a single word, phrase or short sentence that best describes you. Compile a single-page document listing each reference and referrer with contact info in the margin.
In the body write something like: "A recent study finds the best candidates often fail background checking. Call any one of us for a personal introduction to (your name) and cut to the chase." Follow up, explaining one of your referrers suggested you call.
Of course, you should assure your LinkedIn references are up-to-date, but everybody does that. So do both, and stand apart from the crowd!
Network, network, network
Like it or not, most jobs are filled through some form of networking. Being an effective networker means that you understand networking is about meeting the needs of others, not yourself.
Contact local recruiters and ask them to please refer you to another recruiter with whom they network. Voila! If they don't network, ask how you can help them. Who knows where that could lead? Recruiters are only paid when they refer candidates, so they will want to help you out – especially if you are a strong candidate.
Also, track down recruiters and hiring managers at your desired companies on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and industry-specific sites. "Follow" them, "friend" them, and comment on their posts. This is a great way to get insights into their day, their processes, their frustrations and concerns.
Start the conversation. You may get immediate response, or perhaps at some point in the future they will ask: "Don't I know you from somewhere?" Social media has made this easy, and expected.
Get tough and get that dream job
Very few people enjoy looking for a job, let-alone putting themselves out to win a battle they probably never wanted to fight anyway. For you, that's a blessing. Rather than cannon fodder, you are resolute, determined, and creative. Above all else, you are willing to do whatever it takes to land your dream job, even if that means an unorthodox job search.
But be careful, there's a war for talent going on.
If you are comfortable with any of these ideas, give them a go. They may not all be for you. They may not all work out. But they will keep you in the game, and you may even find yourself rewarded for your hustle and creativity.