With more than three job seekers for every opening, it takes more than printing your resume on premium paper stock to get noticed.
By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Renting a billboard, handing out flyers or printing up T-shirts with your contact information used to seem like an outlandish way to get a job but now unemployed workers are going to just such lengths to get attention.
There were more jobs lost in 2008 than any year since 1945 and more layoffs are announced practically on a daily basis. Unemployment now stands at 7.2%, a 16-year high, and the number of job seekers outnumber openings by three to one, so it's no wonder people are getting creative.
"In today's marketplace it is critical that you stand out in a crowd," said Eric Winegardener, a vice president at Monster Worldwide. But standing out is harder than ever when there are 11 million unemployed people in the crowd.
Most experts agree that networking is the best way to find a job, and many job searchers are aiming to broaden their network online by using sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But with sites like those becoming mainstream, job seekers need to think outside the box to make contacts.
Jacob Share, 33, started an email chain by sending his resume and job search objective to his family and friends. He asked them to send it on to others and offered a monetary prize in the amount of $150 to the person who led him to a job as a Web developer.
"The process went quickly after I sent my initial mailing to almost everyone I knew," he said. "It only took one friend's forward beyond that initial mailing to get a referral that lead to the ultimate job offer."
To find employment as a private duty registered nurse in Hobe Sound, Fla., Peggy Greco, 53, printed a T-shirt with her Web site and contact information and wears it while riding her bike ride around her neighborhood.
Even though she hasn't gotten a job yet, Greco says she has gotten a few calls so far - and lost about five pounds.
Kelly Kinney, 29, has been looking for a full-time position as a marketing manager for over a year. She also decided to put her resume on the front of her shirt, along with her cover letter on the back and hit the streets.
After landing a few interviews, Kinney is hopeful to have an offer by the end of the week.
Other job seekers have worn their contact information on sandwich boards, posted it on billboards, or even printed it on cocktail napkins to get attention.
Unconventional vs. unprofessional
Tony Beshara, author of "Acing the Interview" and "The Job Search Solution," encourages job seekers to employ such unusual strategies to find jobs. "People spend hours crafting their resume," he says, but "it can get lost in the shuffle."
Instead, he advocates putting more effort toward getting face time. "Wait in the lobby of the building where you want to work and ride the elevator with the manager," he said. "Try to bypass HR if you can."
But others say unconventional strategies can be a gamble. "I think your odds are far better by standing out through the traditional means," said Winegardener from Monster.
Winegardener recommends that job seekers focus their energy on getting informed about their job prospects, including who is hiring and where the demand is for their skills, in addition to tailoring their message to each employer and being mindful of the details, which means having a "perfectly accurate" resume and following up every interview with a handwritten "thank you" note.
More than half, or 52%, of marketing executives and 26% of advertising executives said they view unusual job-hunting tactics, such as sending a potential employer a shoe "to get a foot in the door," as unprofessional, according to a survey by The Creative Group, a staffing firm specializing in advertising and marketing positions.
David Perry, co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters," says job seekers should aim to be creative, but only as long as it's specifically targeted to the job they want. For example, Perry suggests appealing directly to the hiring manager in the department that you want to work in.
"You can rent a billboard, but you are far better off deciding who you want to work for and crafting a message especially for them."