Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Extreme job hunting - the new normal?

When I mentioned to a colleague that I was starting this blog, he suggested I should write about the UK graduate who spent his last £500 on a billboard in London begging someone to give him a job. Adam Pacitti, who got a first class degree in Media Studies, had sent out over 200 job applications without success, so decided extreme measures were called for. The billboard immediately got picked up on Twitter and his website got 20,000 hits within 24 hours. It took a few weeks, but the investment paid off and Adam's now employed.

I thought I'd see if there were any other examples of this kind of thing, and discovered that not only are there examples - there are loads of them. Nick Begley from New York printed his resume on a chocolate bar wrapper and sent it out to potential employers. Ulrike Schultz from Vienna asked her Twitter followers to help her find a job in London by putting the hashtag #HireUlrike on all their tweets. And in 2009, Alex Kearns, another UK graduate, managed to secure an hour on a plinth in Trafalgar Square to promote his job search.

All these are brilliant examples of using creativity to stand out from the crowd, and it's no surprise that the majority of these 'extreme job hunters', as they've become known in the media, come from marketing, communications or advertising backgrounds. By thinking outside the box, they're proving to potential employers in those industries what they can do.

But it does make me think - how far are we from the day when submitting a regular paper application for a job won't be enough any more? All these ideas sound great and really original, but in my first few minutes of research for this post I'd already found two other examples of people hiring a billboard in order to get noticed by employers. It might be out-of-the-box thinking today, but in a few years' time (or even less) will it only be possible to find a job if we're willing to take such a drastic step? And if everyone's doing it, then it's not a gimmick any more and instead of standing out, we'll just be blending in. Billboards will be the new printed CV. And so it goes on.

Incidentally, there's one more example of people going to extraordinary lengths to find a job - popular BBC TV show The Apprentice, in which candidates battle it out in a series of gruelling 'business tasks' to impress The Boss, Lord Alan Sugar. And yet Stella English, who won the show in 2010, has been in court over the last couple of weeks, telling an employment tribunal that in fact the dream job she competed for never existed and she ended up as an 'overpaid lackey'. So maybe it's not always worth going that extra mile unless you know what you're getting at the end of it.

If anyone does fancy giving extreme job hunting a try, though, Adam Pacitti is now using his Employ Adam website to offer help to others in a similar situation. And he might even make you famous. You never know.