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What does it even mean to get creative with your job search?

(EDITORIAL) There are often times people give advice that may not always be a match in your job search. Now is a good time to try new things so get creative.

get creative job search

Do you remember in 2008 when people were wearing sandwich boards outside of train stations that read “LOOKING FOR A JOB” or handing out their resumes on busy expressway turn offs? Some of them even ended up in the local news. Check out One Sandwich Board Guy Gets a Job.

That was creative. And also, not for everyone.

How do you get creative in your job search? What does that even mean? Why do people toss that advice out like it’s a fix all?

Creative has a variety of definitions on Merriam-Webster whether you’re looking at it as an adjective or noun and synonyms are clever, imaginative, ingenious, innovational, innovative, innovatory, inventive, original and originative.

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I believe this is a time to get creative but in the sense of ALL OF US opening up our minds to new avenues and ways of working (looking at a variety of job boards – including Remote Job Boards, consider contracts or temporary work, exploring new industries or non-profits, finally starting your business, reaching out to small business owners to see if you can help them with anything).

You still shouldn’t skip the basics as mentioned in this article from Ask a Manager like tailoring your resume to positions or really doing the work up front in your resume and LinkedIn profiles to show your strengths as a candidate. The heavy lifting is still on the job seeker to update your materials and clarify what you are searching for.

You cannot send a generic message “Hey, I’m looking for something!” It needs to be genuine, thought out and tailored “Hey friends! I know these are tough times for everyone. I’m looking for Project Manager roles within Tech companies or suggestions of places you know that are hiring in (CITY).”

The tried and true ways to obtain a new position are to apply to positions with sincere interest and intention and do whatever you can to get your credentials to a human being over a bot and/or applying online. This may be more challenging in COVID-19 times as we see such high unemployment rates but there could be some simple approaches:

  1. Some of the creativity for you may be opening up to your friends and family to let them know that you are looking or could use some help or an extra set of eyes out there for you. This can be a point of vulnerability for some but ultimately, your network is familiar with you and may have some great ideas or leads (or terrible ones, that you can ignore).
  2. Consider signing on with a staffing firm and/or work with recruiters. You may have had your stereotypes in the past, but these folks can be additional eyes and ears for you and connected to companies that are currently hiring. Here are some positive examples.
  3. Optimize your online presence – and I don’t mean you have to build an entire website or start a blog (but that could work). Try updating your LinkedIn, ask for recommendations, add some work samples, reach out to former colleagues, Follow Influencers, consider a LinkedIn Learning Certification course to help strengthen your profile. Consider refreshing any of your social media channels that you feel still represent you professionally and show a side of your personality and interests.
  4. Reach out for informational interviews so you can gather insights that you just cannot find by googling for companies or positions. These can be with people in your network (or out if you are really courageous) and just see if they’d be willing to do a 15-20 minute phone call to share more about their work and company. These are not meant to be so you can pass along your resume but sometimes they lead to that. These contacts can help with unique information like job boards they recommend, professional organizations or even networking (that likely has moved virtually for now).
  5. Is there a position that you’ve always wanted to go for but just never did? Is now the time because really, do you have anything to lose? Always try to get in touch with a real person that works there and even write an intentional and sincere cover letter (sometimes they don’t read it, but this is a time where we are all looking for creativity and genuine people to bring on our teams).

It is tough to give people exact direction because some of this is what you are personally comfortable doing. It does come down to connections and hopefully you have done a good job of truly connecting with people and have a network that you can utilize. If not, maybe some of the above will help like staffing firms and LinkedIn. Technology is wonderful – but it doesn’t replace human interaction and get creative.

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Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

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