Previous installments of this series offered Hail-Mary strategies for résumés, interviews, cover letters and thank-you letters. This time it's social media. The standard ammunition – a full LinkedIn profile with a pretty picture – isn't likely to be enough. Here's the heavy artillery but beware, like actual heavy ammunition, it could recoil on you. Nevertheless, when you feel you're a long shot, there's not much to lose, right?
Most of these tactics are applicable to all social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and if you're a fluent writer, blogging.
A hotter headline. Instead of the standard, "experienced software engineer" yawner, might it be worth substituting something that might more intrigue your target employer? Let's say you'd love to work for Apple. How about, "Aspiring Apple Computer Rock Star Coder?" Another example: A marketer might try, "Social media is overrated. True human connection isn't. I make that happen." Or, if true, describe yourself as having a rare combination that employers crave: "Salesperson who's driven but ethical," or "Executive who sees the big picture but sweats the details."
Risky pix. Even employers are seduced by a good photo. A Hail-Mary pic goes beyond the standard headshot. For example, that aspiring Appler might wear an Apple-logo shirt and baseball cap while sitting at a Mac, looking fascinated at a page full of computer code.
Video tease. It's tough to pull off a full-length video résumé, but how about one that's 10-seconds and consists of the headline plus just enough of a tantalizer to make the employer want to spend more time with you? For example, our aspiring Apple coder's video might show him or her in the aforementioned pose whereupon he or she turns to the camera and says, "I've seen your code: your C, your Python, your Ruby. Not bad. Could be better. Call me and I just might show you." You'll turn off nine in 10, but you only need one and, on paper, you don't look that good or you wouldn't be reading an article on Hail-Mary tactics.
Speak human, not résumé-speak. In LinkedIn's summary section, most employers expect to see résumé-speak: "Demonstrated excellence in driving profitability in a high-velocity organization." Fools. The rare, wiser employer, the one you'd probably like to work for anyway, might be more attracted to human language, for example, words of emotion such as "My favorite job was as assistant director of a corporate career center. I'd love another job like that!" You might even try humor: "I actually wrote this LinkedIn entry myself – no hired gun, I promise."
Offer a sample. Take a cue from Costco. It gives free meatballs, not because it wants to feed the masses, but because it hopes one meatball will make you buy 10 pounds worth. Same principle: Offer to do an assignment for free: "Just email me the assignment and a deadline. If I can do it, I will let you know and get right on it."
Do the play-by-play. Post every good event that occurs during your job search; the cool employer who actually returned your call, that an employer loved your infographic describing your last job, whatever.
Retweet your dream employers. Follow your dream employer on Twitter and post a tweet or three daily that could make that employer think, "Hmm, now that's a person I might want to hire." After a while, especially if the employer retweeted one or more of your tweets, send a direct message to the account asking if your tweets are intriguing enough that someone from the company might be willing to talk with you about possible employment.
Be a good groupie. On LinkedIn and Facebook groups, post one good idea or link per day for a few weeks. Usually, repeated exposures to your brilliance are required for you to have made an impression strong enough to make the employer want to consider you for a job. Hey, ad agencies say it takes six to nine impressions just to get a person to change toilet paper brands. Isn't it appropriate that you give an employer at least six to nine exposures to you?
Today, where résumés and cover letters ever more take a back seat to LinkedIn and even Facebook and Twitter presences, one or more of these Hail-Mary tactics may net a good job even to long shot you.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian called Dr. Nemko "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach" and he was Contributing Editor for Careers at U.S. News. His sixth and seventh books were published in 2012: How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School and What's the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on www.martynemko.com. He posts here every Monday.