Billboard Cover Letter: When A Resume Is Just Not Enough

Wednesday, 9. May 2012

Let’s face it, with the ever-present recession and slowed economy, finding a job is tough. So how do you stand out from the crowd? A professionally written resume is a good start, but what happens when a resume is just not enough? Well it’s time to get a little creative.

Take these job seekers for example. Tifani and David have gone above and beyond to get noticed with their billboard, which was placed off of Hwy 80 in Sacramento, CA:

Tifani Goldsmith, a Sacramento native, states that the billboard idea originally came from David, when they both agreed that the investment to market themselves was priceless.

A billboard can be a very creative way to get the word out that you are looking for work when a resume is not enough. Think of it as a unique, if not very expensive, cover letter. But as Tifani pointed out, it can be well worth the investment, especially if it only takes a month instead of four months to land a job.

Since both Tifani and David’s websites are no longer active we can only hope that their investment paid off.

Pasha Stocking was also ‘unemployed and seeking employment’:

After being unemployed for over 10 months, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She created a website and rented a 14×48 foot billboard that was located on Interstate 95 in Fairfield County, CT. Although the campaign was a media success, Pasha was unable to gain ‘suitable employment’ and decided to venture out on her own. She now runs her own Public Relations and Marketing firm called PR Bar.

Although we are unsure if Tifani and David’s investment actually paid off, Pasha’s billboard did not seem to attract the type of work that she was looking for. So what was wrong with these billboards? The features, benefits, and the unique selling propositions are all “I am unemployed”. You wouldn’t focus your cover letter or resume on your status as being unemployed. Why not put a more effective message, like “Hire Me – results driven sales manager between assignments” or “Hire Me – full-time accountant available immediately”.

Here is an example of billboard that sends the right message:

Mark Heuer rented his billboard in, what he describes as a time of “desperation as he was seeking his next career opportunity”. The beginning of the economic downturn in 2008 was hard on everyone, but instead of letting it overtake him Mark came up with a creative way to change careers with his 16×60 foot billboard that was located in Milwaukee, WI, and with the right message, he successfully made that change.

When Facebook Privacy Settings Just Aren’t Good Enough

Wednesday, 28. March 2012

Robert Siegel, host of the award-winning NPR program All Things Considered, recently interviewed Robert Collins, a now previous employee of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. During a routine return-to-work interview, Collins was asked to submit his Facebook username and password as part of the application process.

It may sound shocking, but this is something that has become common practice, so much so that states such as Illinois and Maryland are now putting through legislation that would ban the practice.

Just when you thought setting your privacy settings was enough to dissuade potential employers from creepin’ out your Facebook profile, in order to now land that job, you may have to actually hand over full control of your Facebook account.

Since setting your privacy settings to limited will no longer be sufficient, the only recourse is a complete overhaul of your Facebook profile. Here are some areas to pay particular attention to:

Profile Picture
This should go without saying, but if you are looking for a job, your profile picture should reflect the mature, educated and responsible person you are trying to portray. A picture of you half naked, or doing a keg stand, (or both), probably won’t help your cause.

Photo Albums
It may be kind of fun to share pictures of you getting wasted at a tropical resort with your friends, but if your potential employer now has full access to your account, these types of albums may be safer on your home computer, where only you have access to them.

Tagged Photos / Places
Isn’t it great that Facebook basically allows anyone to tag you in a photo or sign you into a place? Your friends might think it is funny to see pictures of you passed out or know that you just went into the local strip bar, but I’m sure your hiring manager won’t. Before you begin your job search remove any tagged photos that can be incriminating and turn off the ability for others to sign you into places.

Info Page
This is one spot that typically gets overlooked. When you first opened your Facebook account you may have put a whole slew of interests, quotes and other nonsensical garbage on your info page. Remember to clean up the page as well, and just because it is a quote from a movie, it doesn’t mean your boss will know it, understand it, or not be offended by it.

The Wall
Finally, we’ve reached hit dreaded Wall. When it comes to Facebook, it’s not only your own actions that you have to worry about, but also those that leave comments on your profile. Delete any unsavory comments made by friends, and don’t forget to clean up your own status updates as well. If they are anything like the samples below, they can be just as bad, if not worse:

If you are not a big fan of self-censorship, you have two final options:

1) Create a second Facebook profile used solely for business interactions
2) Delete your Facebook account altogether

You can read the full transcript of Robert Siegel’s interview with Robert Collins here.

Can Facebook Get You Fired? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Friday, 21. October 2011

There has been a lot of chatter about how employers are using social networking sites, like Facebook, to screen potential applicants, but some bosses are even using these sites to ‘spy’ on their employees.

Like this poor lass:

But who was in the wrong here, the employee for venting her work frustrations on Facebook, or her boss for taking such offence to it that he fired her on the spot? I guess we could say that she should have been smart enough to not even add her boss on Facebook in the first place.

As we mentioned in a previous post, your professionally written resume will only get you so far, it’s up to you to make sure you clean-up your internet reputation before you begin applying for jobs.

ComeRecommended has put together this amazing infographic and 5 ways to make sure you never get hired:

Could Library Books Sink Your Next Career Move?

Thursday, 15. September 2011

How would this look on your resume?

Why not ask Christopher Anspach. He is the 28-year-old Iowa man in the mug shot (and today’s Resume MAG cover star!).  He earned this distinction for not returning his library books on time. OK, also for not returning the library’s phone calls, and effectively becoming a thief.

And now any potential employer researching “Christopher Anspach” online will discover that this guy has spent time in jail for theft. And that won’t endear him to potential employers.

There is only so much that a professional resume writer can do to make you shine. Your pro-active resume can look great, but if the other part of your resume – the photos, articles, and embarrassing tidbits posted all over the Internet – make you look like a con artist, a puppy torturer or someone likely to pick his nose at a client meeting, don’t expect employers to be lining up to schedule interviews. And don’t think you can brush it off with an answer like “I was out of town” or “I really never got their letters”, because you can’t answer interview questions if they don’t even call you for an interview.

Your mother probably told you to behave. More than once. Perhaps more than a thousand times. Hopefully you were listening.

This post was featured in the Yakezie Carnival (sort of edition).

The Importance Of Including Volunteer Experience On Your Resume

Wednesday, 31. August 2011

The stale economy of the last few years has not only made the job market more competitive, but it has also put many people out of work for lengthy periods of time. Having these blocks of downtime can usually send up red flags to potential employers.

So how do you flesh out your resume to make it more appealing to hiring personnel?

Glad you asked.

A recent article at states:

“If you’re one of the millions of unemployed Americans, or if you’re returning to the workforce after an extended absence, your volunteer experience can be the one thing that sets you apart from the competition.”

Volunteer experience on a resume is becoming more prevalent these days. In the not too distant past, employers and jobseekers alike undervalued volunteer experience, or even dismissed it altogether. When it was included, it was often added to the end of a resume as an afterthought.

By giving more value to your volunteer experience on your resume you will not only be able to demonstrate your skills, such as leadership and interpersonal skills, a prerequisite for many jobs, but you will also be able to fill in those employment gaps that usually send up red flags, which can jeopardize your chances to be invited in for an interview.

A professional resume writer can help you to integrate your volunteer experience with your employment experience, creating a cohesive timeline of professional experience allowing you to get one step closer to employment.

Some of the other benefits of volunteering include:

  • The ability to gain valuable work experience
  • Possibility of permanent employment with the organization you are volunteering with
  • Networking opportunities, as we mentioned in Step #3 of our post ‘Not Even A PFO Letter’
  • The opportunity to apply and practice your skills
  • Volunteer experience will also help you to gain confidence in yourself, making transition back to the workforce that much easier.
  • And best off all, you’ll be helping out your community.

If your resume lacks volunteer experience, it is never too late to start acquiring some. Many NGO’s, non-profit and charitable organizations have opportunities to volunteer in your current capacity, or even in a position where you can gain some new skills. So get out there and start volunteering.