If you’re in the midst of a job search and concerned that an unconventional strategy may be too risky, remember this: the worst thing that will happen if you try something weird* is that you will continue to not have that job.
I was at a Thanksgiving leftover party (such a great idea!) this past weekend and wound up chatting with a friend of a friend about his career. For purposes of this story, we’ll call him Cranberry Sauce. After a long and successful stint as a software engineer, Cranberry Sauce found himself completely burnt out and in need of a change. For the first time in his professional life, Cranberry Sauce was looking for full-time work outside his field. He decided he wanted to become a CNC router operator. It sounded fun and low stress and there was a company hiring for that position really close to his house.
But what can you do if you’ve never worked in an industry before and don’t have any of the required skills or background? If you’re most people, you might consider taking a class or trying to get an internship. You may even decide that it’s too challenging and not worth it. These are all perfectly reasonable ways to handle this dilemma. Unless you’re Cranberry Sauce. His approach was a bit out of the ordinary:
Cranberry Sauce found out the name of the recruiter for the company and called him. He got the guy on the phone and told him that he would be great in the role. That he would be his best hire ever. Every day. For 3 weeks.
He was positive and persistent and more aggressive than most. And it worked. He’s been at the job for 8 months now and has developed a ton of new skills. While he’ll return to software engineering in the near future, Cranberry Sauce has been able to thrive in his new role and support himself doing exactly what he wanted to do.
Did he run the risk of really annoying the recruiter? Absolutely. Was it possible that it might not work? Without a doubt. Would he have gotten the gig through a more conservative, safe path? Nope – he was already being passed over for lack of experience.
Do you have an idea to do something strange to stand out to a prospective employer? Does it buck convention and possibly make you seem bizarre or pushy? Or are you going to need someone to bail you out of jail if it doesn’t work out? If you’re not going to reap significant negative consequences, go for it! Try it today and see what happens. All you have to lose is the job you already don’t have.
* This assumes your version of weird isn’t illegal or completely obnoxious.