10 Guerrilla Job Search Tactics That Work

In my opinion, there are two things most job seekers do wrong: they are too general and they are too boring.

I frequently write about the #1 problem of entry-level candidates: lack of focus. If you want to get hired today, you have to be a perfect fit, and it's OK to adjust your marketing materials (resume and/or cover letter) to show that.

Why do I feel most candidates are boring?

Most job seekers do what everyone else is doing: they conduct their job search solely online. Just like everyone else.

As I said in a post last week, 80% of job seekers are applying to 20% of open jobs. Career experts claim that only 20% of open positions are posted online. So if you want to get a job faster, become part of the 20% that is seeking 80% of the jobs (which aren't posted online). Make sense?

So, step 1 is to take your job search offline!

But how?!

Get Guerilla

What does "guerrilla" mean in terms of a job search?  It means get creative and do things differently!  Engage your audience and surprise them.  Here are ten guerrilla marketing tactics you can use in your job search.

1. Pick up the phone. Isn't it lame that I have to include this tip in a list of "creative and unique" networking tactics?!  The truth is, I bet only 1% of people actually pick up the phone to introduce themselves, ask for a coffee meeting or start a conversation.  You aren't cold calling for an interview or a job, you are simply starting a conversation.  Don't over think it!

If you decide to pick up the phone, let the person know who referred you to them or how you know them.  Did you meet at a networking event?  Did you get his or her business card at the Cubs game?  Did you look her up in your sorority alumna directory?

Chances are they won't answer or be interested in talking to you the first time you call.  Follow up again via email. Still no answer?  Make one last attempt by emailing them a week or two later.  It's VERY normal to contact busy people a few times before getting a response. In many cases, they'll thank you for your continued follow up!

2.  Stop job hunting and start company hunting. The beauty of a guerrilla-style job search is that your efforts will be very targeted.  You've researched industries, companies and even people.  You know what you want and who you want to talk to.  This is not a reactive job search where you apply to 50 jobs online and sit by your phone and wait.  Find companies you like, then look into their competitors and their vendors.  Target companies, not jobs.

3. Send a coffee mug. I first heard about this idea on an awesome podcast series called "Secrets of the Job Hunt" and have since run into this idea many times.  Sending a coffee mug helped former job seeker Janet FritzHuspen land a job within two weeks.

  • If you find out about an open position you'd like to apply for, send a coffee mug along with your resume and cover letter in a box via FedEx/UPS ground so you can track the package.
  • In your letter, state that you'd like to set up a time to discuss how you can contribute and add value to ABC Company as their (title of position you are inquiring about).
  • When the package arrives, give the person a call about 20 minutes later and say "you just got my package" and go from there.

This tactic will not work every time, but word on the street is that it works almost every time.  This tactic is better suited for more creative industries and positions rather than for a legal or banking positions.

4. Send an article. In this tactic you are simply sending interesting articles about the company, industry, or competition.  You can put a sticky note on the printed article that says, "I thought you might be interested in this."  Also, make sure to include a note that lets the hiring manager know you like their company, what you are interested in and how you could contribute to their firm.  Set up free Google alerts to stay on top of the newly published articles of interest.

5. Get in touch with ex-employers. Most people only look at the future when conducting a job search.  Therefore, you should look behind you.  Hopefully you left your previous positions on good terms and can send a short email saying hello and letting them know you are on the market.  That's it.  All you have to do is let them know you are available.  They have tons of clients and contacts, and perhaps they even need you back.

6. Take advantage of temp jobs. Let's say you were offered a temp position at a company you like.  A lot of people would pass up this opportunity.  A smarter thing to do is to accept the temp position and start networking with those within the company.  Since you are already working on site, it's easy to send an email and grab coffee or lunch with those in your building.  It's likely that you will be offered a formal interview now that they know who you are.

7. Start work at the interview. Rather than being like every other candidate, consider getting a head start on getting hired.  If you're applying to a marketing position, bring a fresh marketing campaign idea into the interview.  If you are going into sales, come in with a list of leads.  If you are interviewing for an editing position, bring in a copy of one of the publication's articles with your edits.  If you haven't been granted an interview yet, you could also use this approach by proposing an improvement or new idea and sending it to someone within the company.  This is a very proactive approach which shows the employer that you are a hard worker who takes this position very seriously.  You are also adding value to the company before you even start, which is something most wouldn't bother doing.

8. Consider using a "guerrilla resume."Authors David Perry and Kevin Donlin of "Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0"  recommend using a resume that includes endorsements of your work in the left hand column (these quotes can be pulled from your LinkedIn recommendations) and up to 5 logos of well-known companies or clients you have worked with.  Although most traditional HR folks would disagree with this approach, they feel color and visual appeal will help you land a job faster.  Perry and Donlin's website also offers a free informational CDwith tons of guerilla job hunting tips.

9. Use Twitter. I've personally seen the effects what Twitter can do for one's professional life.  So why not use it to help you find a job? The catch here is, you don't use Twitter to find a job.  You use it to build relationships. Authors Susan Britton Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan and Deb Dibrecommend thinking of Twitter like a cocktail party that you use to achieve your job search goals.  They also suggest strategically using lists and hashtags.  For more great tips, check out their new book "Twitter Job Search Guide."

10. Get smart and get out there.

  • Read your local paper and don't hesitate to contact those featured in the articles.
  • Read popular business books.  Doing so will provide you with tons of conversation and examples for an interview or when meeting new people.
  • Volunteer doing something you love.  You never know who you will meet.
  • Start a simple business while you are unemployed, you may be hired on full-time by one of your clients.
  • Take a class at your local college, get more training, or obtain a certificate in something that will add value to you as a candidate.

Will you go Guerrilla?

  • Do you agree with using a non-traditional job search and networking approach?
  • What guerrilla job search tactics have you used?  Did they work?
  • What are other examples of guerrilla job search tactics?
  • Which one of these tactics would you be most likely and least likely to utilize?

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women find and thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media practice at a digital agency in Chicago. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helps develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.

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