How To Get Hired When “Nobody” Is Hiring

The masses seem to believe getting hired these days is like winning the lottery. They’re thankful when it happens, but their chances are astronomical.

This is simply not true. If you want a job, they’re out there. If you want a job with someone who’s doing things a little differently, the jobs are definitely out there.

But that’s not good enough. That’s not actionable. Based on conversations with myself (don’t worry, I don’t *usually* have them out loud or in public) and some of my entrepreneur friends, here is how to get a job in any job climate:

Step 1) Stop thinking like the masses.

The masses believe getting hired is difficult because the masses go about it just like everyone else, which is why they’re “the masses.” It’s difficult to stand out from a crowd when there are hundreds or thousands of applicants for a single position. You might be thinking, “Well, that’s how the job application is set up. What am I supposed to do?”

That’s a great question. Lots of companies are still living in the 1900s and aren’t interested in hiring exceptional people in an exceptional way. It’s your choice whether you want to work for a dinosaur or not. (And even if you do, I still think my thoughts in this article are relevant.)

If you look at thought leaders like Seth Godin or Ramit Sethi, do you think they hire people in the traditional way? Not a chance.

Even big companies like Viacom are getting the picture. Last year Jen McCoy wanted to move from Florida to New York City to work for a company doing social media. She had no prospects lined up and didn’t have many contacts. What she did was create a website stating her plans and within weeks MTV (owned by Viacom) hired her to run their MTV News twitter as well as write articles for their website. Was that position listed on Monster or any other job seeker website? Maybe, but probably not. As far as I know Jen created that job out of thin air by being creative …

Which brings me to my next step …

Step 2) Get creative, even if you’re not.

I hate it as much as anybody when somebody tells me to “get creative” or “think outside of the box.” For the most part those are baseless, empty, useless statements from someone who has nothing of value to say. Also, I’m not a particularly creative person so when somebody says that it particularly irks me.

The beauty of the masses is they make it easy for you to get creative because they’re so incredibly, uncreatively, lame.

How does the following look for the regular job hunt? Search online, submit resume, wait. Search online, submit resume, wait. Search online, submit resume, wait.

Does that work? Yes, sometimes. Is it creative? Not at all. Does it put you in any kind of position of power? No way.

Another example of getting creative: Susan Lewis wanted a job. Nothing special there, right? But Susan Lewis got creative, and instead of “looking for a job” she decided to “hire a boss.” Much more fun, right? Beyond that, she created the website SusanHiresABoss.com, got the word out, and guess what? She found a boss.

Here’s the simple reason why any smart entrepreneur or manager will always hire people like Jen or Susan: they need creative people who take action! Which brings me to …

Step 3) Get off your ass and do something.

If nobody knows you exist nobody will hire you. Setting up a website and reaching out to people publicly seems like a daunting task, but you can break it down into smaller, less-daunting tasks. Just get it done.

Bonus: Do This and I Guarantee You Will Get A Job Within The Next 60 Days

This is definitely not for the masses. This is for the bad asses. Work for free.

Not forever, of course, but for a single project or X amount of time. A “trial run” so to speak.

Example:

Let’s say someone came to me (or created a website or blog post) and said:

Karol, I want to be your affiliate manager. I don’t have any experience right now so I’d work for free for 60 days. Here is what I would do in those 60 days:

  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Etc.

After the 60 days are up we can discuss if you’d like to hire me on for the future. If not, we go our separate ways with no hard feelings.

How likely do you think I would be to hire someone who put together a risk free proposal such as this? I’ll give you a hint: I’d hire them.

Am I even looking for an affiliate manager? Not necessarily. But I’d be dumb not to accept a well thought out proposal that has virtually no downside to me.

By the way, this same type of thing will work for almost any position, not just an affiliate manager. Just think “what’s in it for them?” What can you offer the potential employer? How can you increase their business or save them money or save them time? Smart business people want all of that and more.

Working for free also gets you over the biggest stumbling block any entrepreneur or hiring manager has: “Will this person be a good fit?” It’s impossible to answer that question before hiring somebody. Once someone is hired it’s a big mess to fire them. But if you put all the risk on your shoulders it’s completely up to you if you keep the job.

What’s it gonna be? Are you going to complain there are no jobs or are you going to create the job you want?

BTW, here’s a proposal I wrote for HowAboutWe.com today. This isn’t exactly what I’m talking about in this article, but then, I’m not looking for a job. Update (11:25am): They already got back to me. They said they’ll support the project on their site, but won’t pay for any of it. :)

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{ 28 comments }

Brigitte

This proposal of yours puts our recent chat into a whole new perspective. :)

And, yeah. This is excellent job search advice.

One thing I did when I was first starting out was to go on loads of informational interviews to find out about the industry I wanted to break into (PR). It was great, because I got an inside scoop on different companies and loads of referrals. Of course…my big break came at a party, not through these interviews.

Karol

I’m not exactly sure which conversation you’re talking about. hmmm

Regarding your big break coming at a party: that’s another point I didn’t make. Many good jobs don’t come from submitting a resume.

David William

It isn’t often that we see new thoughts on the blogosphere, but damn this is it!

Thanks for the fresh perspective. We certainly need passion and ingenuity. Shoot, I need to do it for myself!

Karol

Thanks David, glad you’re into it. :)

Rosa

Karol, this is great!
I think this is also great for people who already have jobs. If you don’t like your current position, create a different one!

When I interview people, I want them to “hire themselves”. They do not ralize how much control of the situation they have. And so they always take the same route like you described.

Karol

Thanks Rosa. Great point about creating a new job if you don’t like your current one. The general point is that there is always a way to make things happen if you want them to happen.

Elana Miller

Tim Ferriss had a great guest post by his now full-time assistant not too long ago:

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2011/03/10/12-lessons-learned-while-marketing-the-4-hour-body/

(Hope you don’t mind me posting the link). Basically this guy did exactly what you describe to get hired by Tim Ferriss – he sent him a detailed and specific email outlining how he could help Tim’s social media presence, point by point. At first he worked for Tim for free, but now I’m pretty sure he’s paid, and he’s had a great mentorship experience too.

Karol

Great read! (And I think I need to add Tim’s blog back to my RSS.) Thanks Elana!

meg

Karol, you are in for a very very interesting time ;D

Karol

hehe, I’m not actually going to do the 30 dates in 30 nights thing without a title sponsor. But I’ll be in for an interesting time whatever I happen to be doing at the time. :)

Karol

I’m assuming that’s what you were referring to. If not, I take back everything I said. Sorta. :)

Erlinda

This is a new spin on the job search dilemma. The dream jobs never make it to jobdango – they are created within the organization itself. Great take on the job search problem!

Therese

Yes! I couldn’t agree more. In order to succeed, you’ve GOT to think different than the masses, and you’ve got to get outside of the box and make your own way. More people need to be exposed to these sort of ideas. Karol, you and I must be thinking on the same wavelength, because this is exactly what I wrote about a few weeks back:

http://www.theunlost.com/?portfolio=stand-out-or-get-out-how-to-escape-mediocrity-and-do-the-work-you-love

I mention Charlie Hoehn (whom Elana mentioned above) in this post, who is a master at the “working for free” concept and who has a great e-book on the subject. Charlie has worked for Ramit Sethi, Tim Ferriss, and others using this approach… and he started off as “just a regular kid.”

Karol

Thanks for sharing Therese. Charlie really is kicking ass, huh? :)

Therese

Yes… yes he is :) Thanks Karol.

Chris Clark

While I generally agree with working for free, your post over simplifies the process to a detrimental degree.

I say this from experience; having sent dozens of well-tailored “will work for free” e-mails and getting either no response or a response indicating that the individual was creeped out.

First, a better option is to establish a relationship with someone beforehand and THEN ask to work for free. Taking the long view has in my experience proven to be far more effective than asking for something right away.

Second, while free work is great, being really good at something and charging for your skill is even better. Sometimes to separate yourself from the masses you just need to take the initiative to be really good at something.

Criticisms aside, I really do like the post.

Karol

There are so many variables … while I’m sure your e-mails were awesome, the website pitch is better and shows that you’re action-oriented and serious. That said, establishing a relationship (or getting an introduction from a mutual friend/acquaintance) will always work well.

Chris Clark

Agreed, and to your point creating a blog post or website is not much more difficult than sending an e-mail yet it’s just enough too differentiate yourself from 95% of seekers.

Ryan

Karol, there are only a handful of individuals in my RSS feed who I read religiously, you are at the top of that list.

I would absolutely agree with Rosa. Many of my friends tell me how much they hate their job and the work that they do. The first question I always ask them is “How have you tried to re-define what you do?”

They always look at me with this blank stare on their face. I then go on to tell them how to create their own position/work doing the things they want to do and doing them exceptionally well.

No one is ever going to give you exactly what you want because they don’t know or care about it. You need to take control of your own life.

Being a guy who custom built his own role out of thin air I now find myself on the other side of the equation with folks constantly trying to get my attention. As such, the folks that get my time these days are the ones with creative/interesting proposals since they show initiative and are actually offering ME something.

Karol

Ryan, thank you. That is such a big compliment I don’t have much of a response because “thank you.” :)

“No one is ever going to give you exactly what you want because they don’t know or care about it. You need to take control of your own life.” < -- You nailed it. While there are a lot of people out there that will be happy to help, nobody is going to do it for you. Especially if you don't show initiative and do the work yourself.

Liz Jurcik

Thanks for the hint! I’m trying the unconventional website to find a potential employer by advertising I want a boss. So far people think it’s wildly creative – so if anyone out there wouldn’t mind passing it along, all the credit goes to this site for giving me the impetus to do something different!!

Nick

Great article! I thought it was really innovative and decided to share your idea on my Engineering Job Search blog (if you don’t mind).

Karol

Sure, thanks Nick. :)

Gabe

your bonus here struck a cord with me- I have been thinking about doing something similar but didn’t know how to approach the situation. thanks for that bit

Eric

ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL!! I’m a very creative individual and I wanna work with creative people!!! THe job market is full of LAME and STATIC minded people!! The greatest accomplishments in history have been made by CREATIVE PEOPLE whom we’ll always remember!! CHEERS to this article!

Aubrie

So “Search only, submit resume, wait” turns into “Make a website, wait.” I’ve had a website for three years before I couldn’t afford to keep it running. Because I only got three jobs from it. Because advertising costs money, and I can’t spend money without a job. Can you say “vicious cycle?”

Karol

No but I can definitely say “missed the point” and “bad attitude.” :)

Aubrie

Missed the point in terms of your post? or in terms of my website? Regardless of my attitude, I do realize other people really love the ideas in this post, and I actually am seeking to understand why.

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