Extreme Job Hunting – As the economy hits rock bottom, some job hunters go guerrilla.

Nicole Perlroth, 12.29.08, 01:25 PM EST

As the economy hits rock bottom, some job hunters go guerrilla.


Desperate times don’t just call for desperate measures. They call for last resorts. Just ask investment banker Joshua Persky. After getting laid off from investment bank Houlihan Lokey, Persky spent 11 months searching for work. He met with recruiters, e-mailed résumés, networked with family, friends and old colleagues and even considered a move to Nebraska. On the brink of losing his family’s Manhattan apartment, he finally took to the streets. Donning his best interview suit, he passed out résumés to executives on Park Avenue–all while wearing a giant sandwich sign that read “Experienced MIT Grad For Hire.” Media outlets picked up the story and within three days, Persky was dubbed “the new face of the American economy.”

The extreme approach paid off. New York accounting firm Weiser LLP hired Persky. But that was last June. According to the Forbes.com Layoff Tracker, nearly 200,000 more people have been laid off from America’s largest public companies just since Nov. 1. As the unemployed look for work, some are forgoing traditional job-hunting in favor of guerrilla tactics. But unconventional job searching can range from the clever to the downright disastrous–often with a fine line in between.

Persky has had his share of copycats. Some have even taken his stunt to new levels. Last month, Javier Pujals, an unemployed real estate salesman, sported a sign outside Chicago’s Mercantile Exchange that read “Will Buy Interview” with the name of his new website, www.buyaninterview.com.

Paying for an interview may sound extreme, but according to Pujals, “It’s simply a matter of a supply and demand. There are so many people looking for work and executives hate interviewing. They have to schedule it, make the time and put on a pretty face. It takes three minutes to figure out if this is going to work and they have to sit there for 20.” Within two day of hitting the street, Pujals’ site had over a thousand hits. A month later, he is evaluating four offers and has yet to pay for one interview.

Other attempts at creative attire have been less successful. Actress Sean Young once infamously stormed a Warner Brothers studio lot wearing a homemade Catwoman costume, in an ill-conceived bid to secure the role in the 1992 sequel “Batman Returns.” Director Tim Burton was nonplussed. He gave the role to Michelle Pfeiffer.

Effective or not, job hunting gimmicks are nothing new. Some years ago, Buzznet Inc. C.E.O. Tyler Goldman, then a lawyer in Palo Alto, heard that sports attorney Leigh Steinberg was looking to add to his sports practice. After a dozen interviews–and still no job offer–Goldman put together an elaborate proposal and had it hand delivered by a man singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in a bird suit (the chicken suit was unavailable). Steinberg never saw the proposal. His secretary kicked the singing man out of the office.

In retrospect, Goldman says, “It was a good thing. I don’t think it would have gone over very well.” Goldman was hired anyway and went on to represent athletes such as Steve Young, Manny Ramirez and Troy Aikman.

Recently, The Creative Group, a recruiting firm, published a report on the unusual lengths people will go to get hired. Among the strangest anecdotes executives reported was a man who “used an office building across the street to place a large sign with his qualifications posted.” Another job-seeker “put up posters of himself in the garage where the executive parked.” One applicant “had her name printed on golf balls that got into the hands of executives who were hiring.”

But creative approaches were not necessarily viewed as beneficial. Fifty-two percent of marketing executives qualified these tactics as “unprofessional,” compared to 34% who say they are “OK, as long as the style doesn’t detract from the information.”

“It used to be that people would put their name in a pizza box, or in skywriting or interview on the street. That doesn’t work anymore,” says Harvey Marco, chief creative officer at advertising firm J. Walter Thompson. “It’s like everything else, people become immune to that.”

So what is cutting through? “Not the man in the chicken suit,” says Marco. “The work has to speak for itself. It has to be packaged in a way that says how they think.”

Jay Katsir took that approach a few years ago. Still without a job offer at the time of his college graduation, Katsir auditioned to be one of several students who delivered a brief commencement speech before the one given by TheDaily Show’s Jon Stewart–the official commencement speaker. The day of graduation, Katsir delivered a short comedic speech detailing his college anxieties: “Did I choose the right major? Am I the only one who still wears a retainer?” As he wound down, he noted that many members of his graduating class would go off to work for “banks, banking markets, market houses and stocking marts. I might not join them,” Katsir continued, turning to face the celebrity speaker directly. “In fact, my future employment is still completely undetermined, Mr. Stewart?”

The speech landed Katsir a writing gig on a then-new show called The Colbert Report. Last September, he won the 2008 Emmy for Best Comedy Writing.


Should You Take The First Job You’re Offered?

Tara Weiss, 01.20.09, 06:00 PM EST

There are often many good reasons not to, even now.

When have you been out of work so long that you should take the first job you’re offered, even if it’s mediocre?

Probably never.

Still, it’s something many job seekers consider as their bank accounts dwindle and the rejection letters pile up.

What should you do? To begin with, try not to get yourself into this fix. Resist the urge to apply for just any job that’s even remotely related to your field. If you take one that doesn’t fit in with your career plans, you may find it hard to rejoin your intended specialty once the downturn passes.

So before blindly sending your résumé to a mass of employers, research each prospective firm, its products and its services. Talk to the human resources contact early on to find out what exactly the position entails. If it’s not something that meshes with your professional trajectory or it’s way beneath your skill level, don’t apply for it.

In Pictures: Deciding Whether To Take That Imperfect Job

“I advise clients to strongly consider whether they want to compromise everything they’ve learned, take a lower compensation package and work their way back up in a company,” says Sandy Gross, founder of Pinetum Partners LLC, an executive search firm that specializes in the financial services industry. “I encourage them to think of their next opportunity as a long-term career move, not something they’ll take for six months and then relaunch their job search.”

Take stock of your financial situation with a professional adviser, if you haven’t done so already. This will help you develop a realistic timetable for how long you can afford to be out of work.

You might learn, to your surprise, that you have time to enhance your skills by taking a class that will make you more marketable. You might even be able to do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the opportunity for, like starting your own business. Or you might decide you have enough of a financial cushion to join one of the many start-ups being developed by laid-off Wall Streeters.

If your financial outlook isn’t that rosy and you need to take a job that’s not ideal for you, Gross offers a suggestion: Instead of signing on full-time, explain to the hiring manager that you respect the team and believe in the business but you’re not sure it’s the right move for you long term. Are they open to you signing on for six months or a year, to help with certain projects, and then re-evaluating your role?

This is risky, but it could appeal to employers who don’t necessarily want to pay health insurance or young firms that are willing to take guidance from senior level professionals on a short-term basis.

Annie Levy Sandin, a founder of the financial recruiting firm Emerging Globe Group, in Westport, Conn., has several clients in exactly this situation. She’s hesitant to tell them to hold out for something better, especially if they’ve been out of work for several months. But if they do take a job not really related to their field or at a lower than optimal level, they’d better have a good explanation for future hiring managers.

“Is there anything they can come up with that’s good about the job that they can take to the next situation?” Levy Sandin asks. “If you explain things correctly, you can get away with a lot. You’re never going to admit to a prospective boss, ‘I was desperate and had to feed my family.'”

If you’ve been offered a job that doesn’t excite you and also been interviewed for one that does, try to buy more time with the first firm. Contact your prospective manager at the more interesting opportunity and explain that you’re not trying to start a bidding war, but you’ve been offered another job and they’re putting pressure on you for an answer.

Make it clear that this opportunity seems much better to you. Ask if they can tell you what the time frame will be for making a hiring decision.

The ultimate goal is to find something that fulfills you professionally. The last thing you want is to start another job search in six months.


Sign of the times: an unemployed headhunter

Sign of the times: an unemployed headhunter

Geoff Williams
Jan 23rd 2009 at 5:00PM

I used to see John Kennedy on Twitter, posting about employment opportunities for other people. Now he’s looking for his own job.

As anyone who uses Twitter understands, you often follow people you don’t know, and they follow you. It’s like a group of strangers being on a site, and sometimes you get to know them, and sometimes you don’t.

In any case, Kennedy was, as is known in the job recruitment industry, a headhunter. Giant companies, some small and many Fortune 500 types, pay people like him to find competent people for job openings. Every day, I noticed, he would mention some of the types of job openings that were available to qualified folks in the IT industry.

And then one day, he sent out a message on his own behalf: I am currently looking for new job opportunities for myself…

Kennedy, who worked for a job recruiting company in Cincinnati, Ohio, is part of what seems to be an ongoing trend. Google, of course, made news recently when it laid-off most of its own job recruiters. With fewer jobs available, there seem to be fewer opportunities for headhunters. In any case, I dropped Kennedy an email and asked him about his situation, thinking it might be interesting to get his take on the economy, given that he has recently been on both sides of the employment fence. Kennedy, 40 years old, has been out of a job for a little over two weeks now and is now looking for something else, possibly as a headhunter and maybe in “computer support — but that market has been severely contracted, to say the least.”

So how did it happen?
The numbers had been down and were pretty bad for the two last two years, but there was something of an implication there, that I would have the chance to recruit for the engineering side of the business. The formal news came down when I was taken into a conference room by my immediate supervisor and told that it was my last day.

You work with unemployed people a lot — did that help you at all, in how you were able to react to being let go?
There’s really nothing that can brace you for the absolutely overwhelming shock that comes with the knowledge that the source of your ability to feed and house yourself has just been cut off. In this economic environment, it’s doubly frightening as the path forward isn’t clear at all.

Obviously, it’s bad out there, but have you seen the job market worse?
In my 13 years doing this, this is the worst that it has been, with the possible exception of the very first few weeks after 9/11.

So what should any newly unemployed people be mentally prepared for?
At the larger companies, the process is very computer-centric. Thirteen years ago, you would drop off resumes and stop into company lobbies to fill out applications, and you would sometimes even get to talk to HR and hiring managers on the spot, but above a certain size, pretty much everything is done online now.

Are there any good signs that you’ve been seeing?
That there is any activity at all is encouraging. There’s CareerBuilder, Monster and newspaper ads; people are returning some calls. Hopefully, the new administration will also be able to provide some help. I truly believe there will be good days again, but the question is whether or not they will come in time before many, many people suffer irreparable career harm.

And do you have any tips on getting a job? You, of all people, should.
Network, network, network. Even in more “normal” times, it seems the most rewarding and successful placements come through connections.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle’s Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale). He can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/geoffw.

How to Interview Like Barack Obama: Successful Strategies for Your Job Interview

How to Interview Like Barack Obama: Successful Strategies for Your Job Interview

Courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap

From: Lewis Lin of SeattleInterviewCoach.com

Inspired by Barack Obama’s historic presidential inauguration, I wondered to myself: if Obama sat down with a hiring manager, how would he answer the most common job interview questions such as:

  • What’s your biggest weakness?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in this industry?
In one of my favorite Obama interviews, CBS’ Katie Couric gives us a glimpse of how Obama would answer these questions. Here’s my analysis of Obama’s responses and how you can learn and apply Obama’s style in your own job interviews.
What’s your biggest weakness?
Couric asks Obama a variation of the dreaded “biggest weakness” question:

Katie Couric: What one personal flaw do you think might hinder your ability to be president?

Barack Obama: I don’t think there’s … a flaw that would hinder my ability to function as president. I think that all of us have things we need to improve. You know, I said during the primary that my management of paper can sometimes be a problem.

Couric: You can come up with something better than that, though, can’t you?

Obama: I just use it as an example of something that I’m constantly tryin’ to work on. What is often a strength can be a weakness. So, you know, for me there are times where I want to think through all our options. At some point you’ve gotta make sure that we’re making a decision. So far, at least I’ve proven to be pretty good about knowing when that time is. I think, as president, with all the information that’s coming at you constantly, you’re never gonna have 100 percent information. And you’ve just gotta make the call quickly and surely. And I think … that’s a capacity that I’ve shown myself to have.

As special as Obama may be, we find that Obama is human too; he has difficulty with this question, just like everyone else. He tries to skirt the issue by saying “I don’t think there’s a flaw” and follows up with a vague, innocuous statement about his “management of paper can sometimes be a problem.”
Couric doesn’t let him off the hook, and Obama comes back with a stronger response. Obama is well-known for his deliberate and cool decision making style. And here he’s candid on why this strength can be a liability. But he reassures us that, although this is a weakness, it is not a problem. Although he doesn’t cite a specific example, Obama’s fast start indicates that he is a fast-moving, action-oriented leader — eradicating concerns around his deliberate decision making style.
What is your leadership style?
Couric uses a behavioral interview question to probe Obama’s leadership style:

Katie Couric: When was the last time you fired someone who worked for you and why?

John McCain: Well, we had to make a change in our campaign. It was going in the wrong direction. We knew we had serious problems in our campaign and the way it was being managed. And that will be well chronicled in the books that are written after this election. But, it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun. And I still value the friendship of the people that left our campaign. And it was just that we needed a different direction. It certainly wasn’t anything that had to do with personal differences.

Barack Obama: I have directed people to be fired during the course of this campaign. I would prefer not sharing that with the public because obviously I don’t want to embarrass them. You know I don’t mind people making mistakes, but I want them to learn from their mistakes, and, what I won’t tolerate are people who put their own ego or their desire for self-aggrandizement ahead of the team. You know, I played sports as a young person, and still try occasionally as an older person, and I am a big believer in “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” And I don’t tolerate a lot of drama or people back-biting or trying to push people down to push themselves up. When I see evidence of people who are not acting on the basis of “how are we getting our mission accomplished,” then I’ll give them a couple of warnings, and if it’s chronic, they won’t be part of my organization.

Obama gives a direct yet discreet response. Then, he uses what I call the “springboard tactic” — answering one question and discussing another question. In this case, he talks about his management style. Here we get the sense that he is team-oriented and accepts mistakes, but has low tolerance for organizational politics — hence his nickname “No Drama Obama.
By comparison, John McCain’s response is not as strong as Obama’s. McCain responds with a vague and rambling anecdote. There’s no spring boarding here. Instead, McCain is apologetic, possibly even sheepish, about the firing. His response doesn’t give us the sense that he’s the self-assured, rational, and strong leader that Obama is. To top off his ineffectual response, McCain volunteered some unsavory tidbits about how his campaign was managed, further damaging his leadership credibility.
What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in this industry?
Couric’s question on “the best and worst thing that has ever happened to this country” is the most similar to this often asked job interview question. Just like the “opportunities and challenges” question, Couric’s question tests Obama’s subject matter expertise and his judgment in identifying and distinguishing critical events.

Katie Couric: What do you think is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to this country?

Barack Obama: The best thing that ever happened to this country was the founding fathers and the starting premise of America. “We hold these truths as self evident that all men are created equal endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That idea just kept pushing throughout centuries, through a civil war, through civil rights, through women’s rights. It became the North Star for people, not just in America but around the world. The worst probably would have to be slavery in this country. Although the treatment of Native Americans oftentimes … showed great cruelty. You know, but slavery was a stain on this country. Fortunately, we had people like Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman and Dr. King and you know, so many were able to battle through that legacy. And we’re still wrestling with it. But it’s one where I feel more optimistic about the direction of this country.

Offering details is the easiest way to convey credibility in a job interview. By quoting the Declaration of Independence, Obama shows that this is not an off-the-cuff response. He is trying to convince the reader that he is intelligent and knowledgable, and the quote helps cement that image. And of course, the quote’s theatric effect cannot be underestimated. It subtly draws parallels between him and America’s founding fathers. It also breaks up the interview’s staccato rhythm.

Obama’s mention of Native Americans is also noteworthy. It wasn’t necessary, but it does show that he considered other alternatives before deciding on his final response. The interviewer is free to ask follow-up questions around the Native American issue. Without the mention, his choice of slavery may come across as trite and one-dimensional.

14 things to do if you are laid off from a tech job

I saw a great piece of advice in a recent story on U.S. News & World Report called 10 things to do on the day after you’re laid off: “Write a thank-you note to your former boss.” I like that. It can’t hurt, and if your boss hears of openings elsewhere, you’re now that much more likely to get the referral.

Geeks and other tech employees are a little different from the vanilla workforce, though, so I wanted to put together a list of specific things that people in our part of the economy might want to consider if they’re let go. Here’s the rundown.

Quoted passages in this story are from other CNET employees, many of whom, like me, have spent time among the alternatively employed.

Whole article

The Real Way to Get a Job Using Social Media Revealed

The Real Way to Get a Job Using Social Media Revealed
December 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm | In Career Development, Networking, Personal Branding, Recruitment, Success Strategies, eBrand, social media |

The question everyone is asking right now, after hearing about the 1.9 million layoffs in the past year figure, is “how do I get a job”? This is the wrong question to ask yourself because it forces you to apply to positions that aren’t the best-fit for your personality, passions and possibly, expertise. You have to think more broadly!

Read the whole story