Archive for June, 2010
Guest Post by Jerid Gunter
Watch Jerid in the news here.
Job hunting. No doubt, there are several emotions that come with the idea of hunting for a new job, and there are many of us who are aboard the job hunting roller coaster. When I graduated from Western Kentucky University with my BA in public relations back in May 2009, I moved back home to the Kansas City area and was quite hopeful for the opportunities that surely awaited me. Admittedly, I was quite delusional to the fact of how bad the economy was at the time of my graduation. One year later, with an internship and volunteering experience under my belt, I was still at the starting gate with my job hunt. I became completely open to relocating, and I submitted countless resumes and applications to various jobs across the country. The feelings of hope and excitement gave way to anxiety and frustration.
While I was delusional as a fresh college grad, I wasn’t delusional to the fact that my resume wasn’t turning heads. There’s no question that unemployed PR pros with five to 10 years experience are at the front of the line for any open position. I had to come up with something creative. So, with the “trained mind” of a PR practitioner, I tried to get my creative wheels turning. What could I do to stand out from the pack?
Part of the job of a public relations practitioner is to create or raise awareness, whether it’s for an event, organization or individual. In my case, I was looking to raise awareness about myself. I can’t quite tell you how I came up with this idea, but after watching a YouTube video of a creative way a job seeker received attention it must have created a spark for me. I decided I was going to stand on the corner of one of the busiest street corners in Kansas City, wearing a sandwich boy sign and carrying copies of my resume. After much thought of the message for my sign, I came up with: “This college grad can’t get experience without an opportunity. Hire me! firstname.lastname@example.org.” In addition, I created a group page on Facebook (“Jerid’s Job Hunt Extravaganza!”), inviting all of my friends and sharing my crazy idea with them.
While I thought this was a good start, it certainly wouldn’t be a full-blown PR campaign without a little media attention. While I wasn’t sure if I’d really be considered newsworthy, I went ahead and e-mailed all four major news networks in Kansas City, explaining my situation and what I was planning to do. I told them exactly when and where to find me. One station contacted me via Twitter at about 4 AM the day of my event, telling me they’d possibly come by and cover my story. Sure enough, they contacted me while I was at my post, and did a live shot on the morning news, as well as a taped segment that aired during one of the evening newscasts. If that wasn’t enough, I had another station call me right after my interview with the first station, asking if they could cover my story. Of course, I welcomed the coverage. Yet again, I was featured on the evening news on that station as well.
After my day with the media, I thought I was a shoe-in for a great job. I just thought it was a matter of a couple of days before I’d have a handful of interviews and a couple of job offers on the table. The operative word: thought. The job offers didn’t come. Since my street sign escapade, I’ve had one job interview (not even PR related) and wasn’t awarded the position. I posted the online versions of my news stories on my Facebook profile and group page, as well as on my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. I got all kinds of praise and encouraging words from friends and people I didn’t even know. While it’s been fun reading all of the comments, I’m still just working my part-time job at a little coffee shop that everyone’s heard of.
Why do I share my seemingly failed attempts of finding a job? It’s not an attempt to throw a pity party for myself. I know I’m one of countless other job-seekers. It’s also not an attempt to discourage you in your job hunt, quite the contrary. I’m certain that my street sign story is going to help me land a job in some form or fashion. Whether the video catches the right eye of a potential employer, or it’s an experience I can refer to during a job interview, it will be a tool I can use to distance myself from other job candidates. I share my story to encourage you to BE CREATIVE. Do something that makes you stand out…just don’t get yourself into trouble doing so.