How a yellow plastic sand shovel helped get my first ad agency job

By Jeanne Corrigan

I’ve recently reconnected with some coworkers from my first ad agency job at Valentine-Radford in Kansas City. While times weren’t as tough as they are today, it was definitely an employers’ market and I was having a hard time getting interviews. I wanted to stand out from all the other agency hopefuls so I got creative with my search and that made all the difference.

If you’re thinking about a creative approach to your job search, here are three ways you can do it:

1.    Show your personality to get a meeting.

  • In an effort to land interviews, I created a two-part mailer. The first was a light bulb in a box with a note that said, “Bright young professional seeks entry-level position. Illuminating details to follow.”  Then I followed up with my resume. Cheesy? Maybe. Overuse of puns?  Of course. Effective? Most definitely. I think I got eight interviews on the basis of that effort alone.

2.    Keep the conversation going.

  • During this same job search, I was playing phone tag with a department head at Valentine-Radford, but I couldn’t get an interview set up. So, when his assistant called and said he couldn’t find time because he was buried in work, I ran to the store, bought a yellow plastic sand shovel (to help him dig out) and sent it overnight. I had an interview the next week and a job shortly after that.

3.    Demonstrate your understanding and passion for the business.

  • A woman I know wanted to work for an event company that puts on running events. She was an avid runner and wanted to get into event planning. She knew there were no open positions at the time so she would check in periodically with short email message and photos of her race finishes. It took some time but she got the job.

While there are certainly guidelines to being creative in your job search – the approach must fit with the position and the industry you’re going after – I do believe creative resumes can help you stand out and be remembered. When you think about it, what have you got to lose?


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