Damn I Need A Job (dot com)

Damn I Need A Job!Anita Bruzzese blogs about a Larry Dinsmore who had a very simple idea that (a) grew into an additional revenue stream and (b) landed him a job.

The idea was simple – print a t-shirt that says Damn I Need a Job on the front, and put a letter (like an introductory letter: “dear sirs, … “) on the back. Read about what happened on Anita’s blog (she interviewed him). Some of my thoughts:

Damn I Need A Job shirt on the streetFirst, he got a job out of this. From Anita’s blog:

“The local news noticed. Actually I called them and told them what I was doing but they were interested enough to come and talk to me and ran the story. That lead to a chain of events where it eventually got back to the IT manager of the place I am now. So yes, my idea was directly responsible for my employment status today. And yeah, there were some weird looks along the way as well.” — Larry Dinsmore

Second, it was a great way to show his personality (sense of humor, pride vs. humility, creativity, guts, etc.).

Third, isn’t this the simple stuff you’d expect to read about on Dave Perry’s Guerrilla Marketing blog (or book)? Dave has hundreds of ideas… the thing is, who’s actually doing it (without going overboard)? Larry did. It worked, and it is having residual results.

Fourth, the “additional revenue stream” that I’ve blogged about before, the idea of not being 100% dependent upon one employer, is in place for Larry. He is set up to make money on shirt sales, sales of a cover letter package, ad space, etc. And from poking around his site it’s clear that he has other ideas that he is working on (like the video resume module).

I ask myself “what did I do that was creative or different in my job search?” My answer: nothing.

Have you ever done anything creative in your job search? Did it work? Where there any benefits?

21 thoughts on “Damn I Need A Job (dot com)”

  1. When I first got out of school, many moons ago, I didn’t send the conventional resume. I wanted a job in advertising in NY (1982). I created a resume in the shape of a multi-vitamin bottle and packaged myself with 110% of all the necessary ingredients (perseverance, commitment, creativity, etc.) an employer needed in a great employee. Within two weeks of graduation I was working at one of NYC largest advertising agencies. You have to present what you are in a voice which will be heard above all the clamor.

  2. I think that is very creative and fun, but at the same time it can hurt your brand. I say this because some of the high end, high credibility positions would look down on someone who is “begging” for a job. Perception says that if you have a shirt asking for a job, that not only do you not have a job, but there may be a reason for it.

    I apologize for playing devils advocate on this one, but needed to give the other perspective.

  3. @Susan – great example… I wonder how doing that now would be different than back then… in other words, has perception or expectations changed in the last 25 years, with regard to this type of creativity.

    @Dan – no problem on playing devils advocate… in general I agree with you. There’s a great article on Career Journal by Sarah Needleman on going overboard (the same one I linked to a week ago). However, I really like what Larry Dinsmore did. It worked for him. In this crazy world of no job security (at least, none coming from an employer) we need to stand out. When I see this picture, with the two ladies smiling as they read his shirt, I see someone with a great sense of humor, etc. I don’t see a begger, or someone in complete desperation. Sure, the message is desperate but it seems to be a play on his situation.

    Is this appropriate for a CxO? I don’t know… I’d love to see it and think that it would make the international news (if someone like Jack Welsh did this). I don’t think there are any that would give it a shot though.

    Is this appropriate for someone that isn’t an CxO? Is this appropriate for someone outside of IT (afterall, IT is the place where many rules are broken… what we really want is someone that can get the job done, with less emphasis on how many degrees they have), right?

  4. Not sure whether the timeline puts me before or after the guy you mentioned. However, quitting my job to go solo happen to coincide with a major conference of my peers. I knew I needed something to make a big splash so I made up a number of T-Shirts with ‘Will Build Communities for Food’ and the url to my business (https://voxpopdesign.com).

    While I didn’t get any direct offers of partnerships from the shirt it certainly served as a great conversation starter – people were seeking me out to see what it was all about.

    I do agree with Dan and Jason’s observations that this could only work for certain types of job positions. I hope never to see an out of work proctologist wearing a shirt proclaiming ‘Free Exams’. 😉

  5. I think these are all valid comments. But Jason and I had a conversation the other day, and he pointed out that when he was looking for work he did all the “socially accepted” things to get a job, and it didn’t work. When Larry first contacted me, I wasn’t sure about it until I watched the news clip, and realized he was being genuine about his desire to want to work and that people appreciated that. He wasn’t trying to put a fancy spin on his resume or beef up his qualifications. In other words, it was his sincerity and ingenuity and some creative networking that got him a job…along with that T-shirt.

  6. As long as “Something like this” is consistent with “who you are”, it can work for any position. The CxO version of this is to start saying “crazy” things as a speaker at a conference or in a letter to a major industry publication. Same idea: project who you are in a different way in order to get attention.

    Once, when I was *very* sick of large companies, I wrote a resume that was intriguing, engaging, funny, and nothing a Fortune 1000 corporate recruiter would ever call about. Basically, the entire first page was the story of my career, what I liked, and what I didn’t like. It got a lot of calls from smaller companies (and usually not from HR) and set me apart.

    At the same time, I also had to accept that there were a lot of traditional companies that might be great places to work that I turned off at the same time.

    There are hundreds of marketing techniques in the world today that can be applied to a job search. Most people are too scared to leave the pack and be visible, however. So, the pack moves on to the next job board…


  7. Jason,

    I must respectfully disagree with your statement that you did nothing creative in your job search. In fact, you did more than most. You created (CREATED!) JibberJobber (the career management toolset) and are continuing to grow it. You created (CREATED!) it to help you in your career search, and then it became your career.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself – you’ve got creativity blossoming all over you!


  8. I once put on my cover letter “Fred Behle, A Wise Investment in Your Company’s Future.” It got me the interview and then the job. It was a huge step for me to go out of my comfort zone but I am glad I did.

  9. Would you do me a favor?

    I need your help — and would like to include you in my next best-selling job search book as a reward!

    After reading these comments about “novel approaches” and “comfort zones” I just had to ask you all to consider the following:

    According to readers of my last book, “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters,” one of the touches which made it so “real” where the ideas that came from others –- recruiters and job hunters alike. The short stories which chronicled the creative ways candidates used to get in front of hiring managers inspired a lot of people to have the courage to try new things.

    That’s why I need your help for my latest book, “101 Ways To Find a Job Today: How to Get Hired using the Guerrilla Marketing Secrets of Infomercials, Junk Mail and Vacuum Cleaner Salesmen”. It’s a fun title that will pull well on store shelves.

    I’d like to include YOUR success story — something that you or a friend/client/coworker did that was CREATIVE and PRODUCED A JOB INTERVIEW.

    All you have to do is email it to me for review and possible inclusion. Just like my last book, you’ll receive full acknowledgment next to your story if it appears in the book [name, company, website and email address [if they want]].

    To give you an idea of what I’m looking for you can either contact me personally and I’ll email you 3 examples or you can read 47 more by signing up for the Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters newsletter at http://www.gm4jh.com

    My deadline for submissions is July 31 2007. But sooner is better. think about it – immortality [kinda] or at tleast tha ability to help others out of their comfort zone and into jobs they’ll love.

    Please email your CREATIVE JOB-SEARCH SUCCESS STORIES for review me at dperry@perrymartel.com with the word “book” in the subject line. I will acknowledge ALL stories received and inform those selected when the book comes out.

  10. I am definately in the creative do something different category in life, however for job search it can be a bit misleading. The (relatively few) offbeat approaches that get the interview tend to get the press while the ones that fail (the many) are never heard about. It’s like thinking all entrepreneurial ventures are like Google or YouTube because that is what you hear about.

    Having worked for one of the big outplacement firms and as a solo career coach practitioner, I advise people to take the approach that has the greatest liklihood of success. In job search it is active networking, a good solid well written resume which includes accomplishments, and great interview strategies.

    It may be a bit mainstream but it works-

  11. Creativity is under-rated. I actually think you can be very creative in your job search. I am a firm believer that differentiation can work for anyone in any industry. The t-shirt worked in this example, it may not work for someone else. What I can pull off may not work for someone else. I believe that your creativity must fit who you are or it is not genuine. I am sure that is why it worked in this case.

  12. Jason,

    As I always say, it goes back to one’s personal brand. Larry put his on a t-shirt and a consumer (employer) bought it. We’re in a pro-consumer world now. Their has never been a better time to be who you are and find the right role for yourself.

    Would I advocate sending a pink, scented resume to a straight laced, conservative financial institution? Probably not. But, would someone that likes pink, scented resumes want to work for that place in the first place? Probably not.

    To many people end up in a corporate culture that is “so not them.” Perhaps Larry has shown us a way to pre-interview the company.

    “Those that take exception to my shirt aren’t my kind of people anyways.”



  13. I love the creativity, a trait desired in almost every occupation except accounting. But the focus on what “I” want is, I think, a mistake. Gotta look long and hard and FOCUS ON what the employer wants.

    And I think that’s where the creativity will come in in the 21st century: creative ways to determine the employer’s real needs and an interview structure that explores that, not the usual palooka of ‘what I did on my summer vacation’ or ‘why I think I will make a good employee.’

  14. I think it all boils down to the type of job you’re looking for, the type of company that will hire you, and who you are as a person whether this will work or not. Looking for a gig at a big firm on Wall Street? Avoid quirky video resume. Looking for a creative job in marketing? Creative job hunt away. But that’s just my two cents. Perhaps it depends a lot on the personality of the recruiter as well. . .

  15. wow, it’s really interesting to see the different takes on this strategy! I would love to hear what Larry thinks, and what the peripheral affects have been (like getting mentioned in this world famous blog :p).

    Clearly this isn’t for everyone, or for every position. It doesn’t trump networking, but it can be a great tactic. It has to be on-brand. It should be clever, and as Dave Perry says “brilliantly simple, simply brilliant.”

    The bottom line is, it worked for him. And afaik he was going for a boring ol’ IT job 🙂

    BTW, Kent, I usually underrate my own creativity… you are absolutely right. Before my first programming job I thought I had not a creative bone in my body. It came down to the fact that I’m not artistically talented, but I can think of creative things. Can’t we all?

  16. I have had a similar idea over a year ago but only I didn’t know how to go about it, because of peoples perception there goes that nut (I wanted to hold a big sign up in the middle of rush hour traffic on the hwy) displaying my need for a job, but of couse I could not go through with it; one company said to me we receive millions of resume daily in other words good luck, looking for a job is very draining I wish employers will just take the time and look at peoples resumers because there is still alot of honest, reliable good people out there.

  17. This is a really old post but it was so intriguing I had to answer. When I was looking for a job in public relations, I had three dimensional plastic objects that were pneumonics of my name, and I put them in a small jewelry box. I put my resume in an envelope and taped it to the jewelry box. I think this is called “lumpy mail.” I had a friend in art school draw the objects and make them sort of a letterhead, which was on my resume and cover letter. When I did my follow-up calls a few days later, everyone remembered what I gave them and most remembered my name, too.

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