Can Creative USA-style Job Hunting Techniques Work in the UK?

Copyright (c) 2012 Alison Withers

Despite further signs of improvement in the availability of work for permanent staff in the UK during March 2012, for the third month in a row, advice is always welcome on how candidates can stand out from the crowd to maximise their chances of getting an interview.

The latest from the USA is a trend for what is called creative job hunting and there are many examples of innovative techniques people have tried.

A 57 year-old who lost his job after his company closed down took to walking the streets wearing a sandwich board printed with details of his situation and availability for work. This particular idea has already been used in the UK and has caught the attention of some local media.

Another idea being tried in the USA is having the basics of a CV printed on a t-shirt. This is backed up with advertisements on the car window and a series of postcards delivered to potential employers and has resulted in generating some leads for those who have tried it.

Creative types who need to demonstrate that they are up to date with the latest in technology and social media trends could set up a web-site CV. Another very useful option that takes advantage of the internet and social media is to post notifications on Facebook and Linked In of what a candidate is looking for and asking people to pass on leads and contact names.

A variation on this last idea is for those who have already identified a particular company they are really keen to work for and ask for introductions or contact names of people within the organisation they can approach. This not only demonstrates an enthusiasm for the company provided the candidate has thoroughly researched it before trying this route.

For those willing to consider work experience or an internship the risk is that they are being used as free labour and that this will not lead to the offer of a position. Another approach that has yielded better results in the USA is for candidates to contact a company and ask to shadow an employee.

This demonstrates commitment and means that it is not necessary to wait until there is an internship or work experience opportunity. For the candidate it also has the advantage that the company will get to know them in a way that it cannot via the traditional CV and interview route and has led to job offers. The other advantage is that the individual doing the shadowing can gain an insight into the company and its culture, putting them in a better position to assess whether it is right for them.

It may be worth trying to cold call companies even when they are not advertising to find out whether there are opportunities either available now or expected soon. Interviewing a person already working for a company can also be a fruitful approach.

Many jobs, particularly the senior and executive PA and EA roles are not widely advertised or are only available via a specialist recruitment agency and although this is a more traditional route to finding a position it should not be forgotten.

The advantages of registering with an agency are that the candidate not only has access to positions they may not otherwise have heard about but also they have the back-up, advice and guidance of experienced professionals who can help them perfect their CV and interview skills.

The more innovative techniques being used in the USA may require a degree of self confidence and it would be interesting to see whether they would work in the business environment in the UK.

Some Americans have adopted creative job hunting techniques to try to stand out from other candidates and they may be worth trying in the UK also. By Ali Withers.

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