I’ve read a number of articles recently about people doing wacky stuff to find a job. For example, there’s this one, about the woman in Dallas who took out a billboard offering her services. Then there’s this one, about the Wall Street guy who stood outside with a sandwich board to get attention (and a job).
On the one hand, I admire the nerve of these folks. They’re creative, and they’re clearly not overly self-conscious. Those are great traits.
But I wonder what sort of employer you really attract with techniques like this. I’ve worked for a few companies where the culture valued style over substance, and I didn’t care for the experience. I felt like it didn’t matter how hard I worked or how much I accomplished, because it was all about the flash. I also found that people fell in and out of favor pretty quickly in those organizations, so being the golden child today offered little job security tomorrow. In fact, there seemed to be a lot of emotion involved in decision-making, which doesn’t generally lead to good decisions.
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to find a job, and some of it seems to focus on all of these nifty tricks to differentiate yourself. Some of that is good, but getting hired is like losing weight: there’s no quick fix, or special formula, or magic pill. You have to do the work. The best way to be hired is to be the best qualified candidate for the job. Sure, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes the golfing buddy of the boss gets it, or the hot chick, or whatever. That’s not going to change. But outside of situations like that, you’re most likely to get the job if you are the best fit for the job. If you didn’t get it, it’s probably because it wasn’t the job for you.
That sucks when you really need a job, or you really wanted THAT job. But working for organizations that hire people from billboards increases the likelihood that you’re going to be disappointed when you aren’t the flavor of the month. The techniques you use to get the job will help determine the sort of people you end up working for.
Being able to promote yourself, to present yourself in the best possible light, is a very important skill. There’s no question that packaging is important, in business and in life. But flashy gimmicks will pair you up with people who fall for flashy gimmicks. Make sure that’s what you want before you strap on a sandwich board.