by Heather Huhman
The job market is, and always will be, highly competitive. You can bet that any job you apply for will have a handful (or five) of equally qualified — and equally determined — job seekers vying for the same opportunity. And, to stand out from the crowd, some job seekers will do just about anything to find and land a job — even if it borders on unconventional (and unprofessional).
But there’s a fine line between appearing determined and appearing desperate.
Here are three extreme job search strategies job seekers have taken, why you should avoid using those tactics, and what to do instead:
Tactic #1: The “Will Work for Food” Sign
After being unemployed for more than four months, a St. Louis man decided to take his job search to the streets. Dressed in professional attire and accompanied by a sign that read, “Unemployed. My family’s dreams don’t work unless I do! Please take a resume,” he handed out copies of his resume to passersby on a busy sidewalk.
Advertising your job skills on a busy, city street does take guts, but it doesn’t give you an opportunity to tailor your resume to different jobs and organizations. And, according to a survey by The Creative Group, almost 40 percent of executives say the most common mistake job candidates make on a resume is including information that’s not job-specific.
What to Do Instead: The nature of the Internet makes hitting the streets with your resume in hand unnecessary. There are plenty of other ways to get your resume seen by the masses, while still enabling you to tailor it accordingly.
Social professional networks and resume hosting sites allow you to post a general resume that can be easily searched and viewed by a wide variety of hiring professionals. If you want to take it up a notch, consider creating a personal branding site for professional purposes and feature your resume, a portfolio, references, and more.
Tactic #2: The Resume T-shirt
You might have seen this extreme job search tactic firsthand — the resume tee. As you’ve probably gathered, this tactic involves printing your resume, job skills, and basic need for a job on a T-shirt and wearing it around town. While this literally advertises your skills and desire for a job, it can come across as slightly desperate — not to mention lazy.
Look at it this way. If equally qualified and determined job seekers are out there doing everything in their power to find the right job fit for them and you’re simply wearing a T-shirt and hoping to be found, what does that say to hiring professionals? What’s more, what are the chances that your “resume” is getting seen by the right people?
What to Do Instead: There’s nothing wrong with taking a creative approach to your resume. In fact, creative approaches, such as video resumes, can help you stand out among a sea of job seekers all using the same, lackluster templates. However, it should still come across as professional and relevant to the industry or company you’re looking to join.
Tactic #3: The Brutally Honest Cover Letter
Considering 51 percent of employers said that they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on their resume, according to a survey by CareerBuilder, honesty is the best policy. There is, however, such a thing as being too honest — especially when it comes to the job search.
When drafting a cover letter, for instance, some things are better left unsaid, such as the exact reason you want the job (i.e. when that reason has to do with a paycheck, above all). Instead of being brutally honest about why you want the job, your lack of experience, where you see yourself in the next five years, why you left your last position or the reason for the large employment gap on your resume, frame your answer in a positive light.
What to Do Instead: Your goal, as a job seeker, is to find the right job fit. And you can’t do that without being honest with yourself and your potential employer. While you want to be honest, you don’t want to teeter on the brink of offering too much information (#TMI). Be honest without being brutal.
As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.” And, when it comes to the job search, that may just be true.