Getting Attention in a Tough Market

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People are starting to do some pretty crazy things to get the attention of prospective employers. (In case you - somehow - missed it, one guy wore a sandwich board advertising his availability in New York. In the end, that didn't get him a job, but the blog he created sure helped.)

So when would a job seeker cross the line and get labeled a loon? It's hard to say, but it's probably at the point when you go from assertive to aggressive, or when your innovative marketing idea starts registering on the "strange" scale. In the case of sandwich-board man Joshua Persky, he at least wore a shirt and tie under his ad, and so maintained a professional image.

Street corner advertising not your style? That's okay. Definitely don't go beyond your comfort zone, but here are a few things that might get the attention of prospective employers:

Send a Business Improvement Idea

Don't give a prospective manager the entire solution, but say just enough in your note or e-mail to catch his attention. For example: "I had to click through five screens before I could find your sales-contact information on your Web site. Imagine how much business you're losing. I can fix that problem for you." Blog about ways to solve technical problems and e-mail links to your postings to prospective bosses, with a note saying: "Give me ten minutes and I'll tell you how this solution can help you."

Send Something Catchy

Drop off a stress ball in a package with your resume and a note saying: "You won't need one of these if you hire me." Or mail a prospective manager a bundle of play money with a note: "Potential savings on your next project - if you hire me."

Suggest a Meeting

Leave a message for a prospective manager confirming when you'll be by to drop off your resume and introduce yourself. She might - might - surprise you by popping out to meet you. If not, leave your information in an envelope with a note saying, "Sorry I missed you. I'll call Friday at 10:00 to discuss my qualifications." Be sure and write it down so you'll remember to call at the promised time.

Send a Short Presentation Validating Your Qualifications

Maybe it's the outline for a business plan, two slides highlighting the business outcomes from a recent project you managed or an old west style wanted poster describing your skills and attributes. E-mail the piece to a prospective boss and then follow-up with a phone call.

Host an Online Meeting

Draw attention to yourself and create networking opportunities by organizing a Web conference on a topic close to your area of expertise. Or, host a user's group and send out invites to prospective managers. Line up an expert speaker to make sure managers are interested in participating.

Be Consistent - and Persistent

One call or e-mail is probably not going to do it. You'll have to keep up your campaign until you get hired. But if it's done professionally, a unique, personal marketing campaign will have a positive impact on your target audience.