Larger-Than-Life Job Search Tactic

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Mark Heuer turbo-charged his job search by attracting potential employers to his online resume through an outdoor billboard advertisement. But he says the most important thing job-seekers should do is communicate directly with people.

For the past week, Heuer's Web address and giant-sized photo have appeared on a 14-foot high by 48-foot wide sign overlooking a busy highway outside Milwaukee. The billboard, which he's renting for 30 days from Clear Channel Communications' outdoor division, advertises "Results Driven Sales & Operations"

That exposure has already yielded several thousand Web hits, four "solid" job interviews and coverage on CNN and Inside Edition, among other national and international media outlets, along with local news media in Wisconsin.

But when asked how he'd advise job-seekers to stand out amid the blur of competition, Heuer tells eFinancialCareers News, "The first key is to get away from your computer. I think you have to get out in the venues of networking, whether it's through the traditional venues of networking, or linkup groups.... People don't go knocking on the doors like they once did. We need to go out and knock on the door instead. Because those who knock on the door will win out over those who just type things into the portal."

Returning home to Wisconsin in October after a six-month military logistics contract in Iraq, Heuer had a tough time finding employment despite more than 15 years' experience managing sales, service, production and procurement in industries ranging from laundry facilities to coffee. After four months, he decided to push the envelope in a bid to separate himself from the sea of job applicants.

News Coverage Magnified Ad's Impact

Heuer won't release how much he paid for the billboard. But he understands the risk he's taking. "If we fail (to find a job soon), can we afford to take that loss? Absolutely," he says, adding that he's managed his finances conservatively.

Results thus far have surpassed Heuer's expectations. "I didn't realize the media was going to push it as much as it did," he remarks. "The media is giving it more exposure and giving it more contacts" than the highway ad could have generated on its own.

Before you rush to rent a billboard yourself, consider: all that free news coverage that magnified Heuer's visibility is in all likelihood a one-off phenomenon - his reward for coming to market first with a novel idea. Any would-be copycats should expect only the crumbs that Heuer's media blitz left behind.

We'd also add another risk: If your professional edge rests on expert knowledge (research, investment strategy) or a special ability (trading), then a highly visible advertising campaign might cheapen your personal brand. Any marketing tactic you adopt should respect the culture of your profession and your industry.

Heuer is now eager to see the online brand he developed survive after he is eventually re-employed. "Maybe it becomes Mark4Hire and then I just use it for tips - to advise other people," he muses. "A lot of my friends have said, 'Mark, your greatest talent is helping people. You should find a way to do that.'"

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