Harvey Mackay

Creative Ways to Land a Job

I love creativity, and one of the most fruitful uses of creativity is landing a job. You have to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Over the years I’ve encountered some very creative ways that people have found jobs, and I would like to share some of my favorites with you.

Social media is a great way not only to meet potential employers, but also a place to post some of your work or start a blog. How about creating your own website?

Enhance your resume by adding images, graphs, color and design. Make a video. One person even wrote a song.

Send some extra special items with your cover letter and resume, such as cupcakes, cookies, a box of chocolates or doughnuts that spell out your name. As hokey as that may sound, it can work.

I really get a kick out of crazy stunts. Like sending a potential employer a shoe with a resume and a note, “Just wanted to get my foot in the door.” One guy took out a billboard touting his qualifications. I’ve heard people doing radio ads and creating an imaginative brochure or direct-mail piece. Still another sent a singing telegram praising her skills.

One reader shared with me that when she was looking for a job, she went to the Atlanta airport and passed her resume out to dozens and dozens of business travelers. She thought this would be a good idea, since a high percentage of travelers during the week are on business. As she passed out her resumes, she told the recipient to please give it to a decision-maker.

“It was incredible how many phone calls I received!” she said. She had several interviews and got a “great job in medical sales.”

Another individual I personally counseled was zero for 100 in trying to crack the advertising ranks right out of college. She went to one of the top ad agencies in Minneapolis and offered to work for free for six months to get her foot in the door. It ended up in a permanent job.

One woman who had been out of work for four months saw an ad for her dream job with a local TV station. The standard tactic -- a cover letter and her resume -- netted absolutely nothing. So she launched a more imaginative campaign, which included letters from the fellow she was dating, from her lawyer, from her 80-year-old mother, even from her priest, who wrote, “I’m enclosing this in hopes that you will hire" the woman. "It’s depressing to look at her sad face, and besides, we haven’t had a donation from her in months.” She got the job.

Steve Schussler, founder of Rainforest Cafe and a good friend, had a dream of working in sales for a radio station in Miami. He went to a container company and purchased a wooden barrel large enough for him to fit in. Then he went to a costume shop and rented a Superman outfit, complete with blue tights, red shoes and cape. He paid two friends to deliver him in the crate to the radio station manager’s office. As it turned out, the manager was in a board meeting, but they insisted he come out, which he did with the entire board. When they finally slid the lid away, Steve flew out of the crate like a jack-in-the-box, gasping for breath. He smiled at everyone and announced, “I’m your new super salesman.” One of the board members said, “Son, you are the sickest person we’ve ever met. You’re hired.”

One of my all-time favorite job stories happened years ago, when my youngest daughter was graduating from the University of Michigan. Seated up in the rafters, I watched thousands of graduates parade across the stage collecting their sheepskins. Suddenly, a roar went up from the crowd. A female student was walking across the stage with a placard on top of her graduation cap. In huge white letters were the words, “I need a job.” After the program ended, businesspeople were falling all over themselves to give her their cards.

Did she land a job because of her creativity? I don’t know, but I do know that 8,333 graduates without jobs sure wished they had thought of it first.

Mackay’s Moral: Creativity has no script; it is inspired ad-libbing.